Report by James Cracknell and Victoria Munro, Local Democracy Reporter
Waltham Forest Council is launching a second public consultation on its draft Local Plan.
The document, called ‘Shaping the Borough’, puts forward the local authority’s proposals for meeting the housing targets set by the Greater London Authority, with the council aiming to build 27,000 homes over the next 15 years – more than doubling the current annual construction rate to 1,800 per year.
An initial consultation was held last year, with a new second draft now incorporating people’s initial responses, as well as a separate document providing more detail on over 60 specific sites. Proposed development is chiefly focused on the south of the borough, in key places such as Lea Bridge, Leyton and Whipps Cross. A new railway station at Ruckholt Road also forms part of the plan.
The number of homes the council is proposing at each site ranges from just eight homes on Brandon Road car park in Walthamstow to 3,000 homes at the current Leyton home of New Spitalfields Market, which is set to move to Dagenham in 2026.
The latest draft of the council’s Local Plan was approved at a cabinet meeting earlier this month. The council will now consult with residents again before submitting the finished plan to the government next year. Speaking at the meeting, cabinet member for housing growth Simon Miller said the plan was “one of the best local plans in the country” and also “one of the greenest”.
Cllr Miller added that the consultation process prior to the publication of allocated sites was “the most involved, lengthy, extensive and inclusive of any local plan consultation undertaken in the UK” and that the proposed new planning policy framework would give the council “a robust defence” against “unscrupulous property developers”.
Other large sites deemed suitable by the council for housing development in the borough include Leyton Mills Retail Park, where at least 2,000 homes and a new school are earmarked; Whipps Cross Hospital, where around 1,500 homes are planned by Barts Health NHS Trust as part of its hospital rebuild plans; the Estate Way industrial site in Leyton, where 1,430 homes and a new nursery could be built alongside the Dagenham Brook; Bywaters Waste Management Centre in Leyton, where 1,250 homes are now planned alongside the 750 homes approved for the neighbouring Score Centre site; Tesco in Leytonstone, where 650 homes could be built; Sainsbury’s in South Chingford, where 430 homes are earmarked next to the North Circular; 440 homes at Low Hall Depot in Walthamstow; and Lea Bridge Gaworks, where plans were recently submitted for 550 homes.
Among the hundreds of responses submitted to the first Local Plan draft were critical submissions from key public bodies such as Historic England, Thames Water and governmental departments. Historic England said that it wished to “stress the implications for existing local character” should new homes be built without “a sensitive and contextually aware approach”. Thames Water also raised concerns that the level of development proposed would require “likely upgrades to the wastewater network” – noting that the nearest sewage plant to the borough, Deephams, was expected to reach capacity in 2034.
The Conservators of Epping Forest, run by the City of London, also challenged the council “to match the stated targets for housing and employment with a commensurate target for new green infrastructure provision”, while Mark Furnish from Sport England added that “the existing [sports and leisure] provision within the area may not be able to accommodate this increased demand without exacerbating existing and/or predicted future deficiencies”.
Phoebe Juggins, from the Department of Education (DfE), wrote in her submission to the council: “DfE notes that substantial growth in housing stock is expected in the borough. This will place significant pressure on social infrastructure such as education facilities.”
There was more positive feedback provided by housing developers, including Berkeley Homes, which affirmed its support for the council’s “ambitious growth agenda” and applauded them for “their ambition to deliver truly mixed-use, high-quality developments and create vibrant and quality places”.
The site allocations section of the council’s Local Plan is now out for public consultation, until Monday 14th December. The full second draft of the plan is due to go out for consultation from Monday 26th October, with the same deadline for responses.
To have your say on the Local Plan:
View a map of proposed sites for home building in Waltham Forest: