Planning permission has been granted for £130million plans to rebuild a council estate in Walthamstow – with fewer council homes.
Waltham Forest Council wants to double the size of Marlowe Road estate, near Wood Street, from 214 to 436 homes. The additional homes provided will be for private sale to fund the redevelopment scheme.
A planning committee meeting at Waltham Forest Town Hall on Monday 23rd November heard that although the number of council homes in Marlowe Road will be cut from 166 to 150, the number of habitable rooms for social rent will rise by 21 thanks to a larger allocation of family-sized properties.
Current residents in Marlowe Road will need to be relocated for several years while their homes are rebuilt.
Forty-eight properties on the estate are currently owned privately following their sale under the government’s ‘right-to-buy’ scheme, and these will be subject to Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs).
Melanie Briggs, a Marlowe Road homeowner, told Monday’s meeting: “These are much-loved family homes.
“The destruction of these homes without the consent of the people living in them is unlawful, except where it is in the public interest.
“How is this in the public interest when there will be no increase in the provision of social housing on the estate?”
Among other concerns raised by residents was the loss of dozens of mature trees, the height of housing blocks proposed being too high at up to seven storeys, and a loss of sunlight for neighbours.
A popular play space in Wood Street opened just three years ago will also need to be temporarily relocated while construction works take place.
Jo Arkell, a resident in nearby Waverely Road, told the meeting: “I believe there is merit in developing Marlowe Road, but we do have serious concerns.
“We all want to see the area thrive. The buildings proposed are not in keeping with Wood Street, which has absolutely flourished over the last few years with a mix of old shops and new boutiques.
“This proposal plonks high-rise housing blocks on to Wood Street, blocking sunlight. The play area will be closed for two years and when it reopens it will be in the shade.”
Despite the concerns, the redevelopment plans for Marlowe Road estate were approved by councillors on the planning committee with five votes in favour and none against.
Councillor Alan Siggers explained that the increased density on the site should be welcomed. “We have a housing crisis in London and one of the reasons is that London is awash with small dwellings,” he said.
“Our population in Waltham Forest is going to grow every year by 3,000 people and space is at a premium, so we can’t continue to have low density housing.”