David Gardiner gives his verdict on the current plans for up to 502 new homes in Walthamstow town centre
My partner Jean and I, with a lot of help from others, have been helping to run an intensive campaign to prevent the owners of The Mall in Walthamstow from radically remodeling the town square in pursuit of their own commercial gain.
Their proposals would involve a ‘land grab’ of 32 percent of the existing open public space to extend the shopping centre, cutting down the majority of existing mature trees, and building four new mega-towers of luxury flats, potentially up to 29 storeys high, casting a heavy shadow across what would remain of the town square during summer months.
I find the idea of this destruction of the only public open space in the town centre quite repellant. This scheme has nothing whatsoever to offer the people of Walthamstow. We don’t need more shops and we don’t need luxury flats for the wealthy.
The incentive for this remodeling is greed, pure and simple, and Waltham Forest Council’s interest in approving it lies in the extra cash that they assume will flow their way in the form of council tax, business rates, and whatever other fees and sweeteners they can procure from the developer of this scheme, Capital & Regional.
Emotional responses aside, how do these proposals line up with the requirements of the London Plan, written by the Mayor of London’s Office and published by the Greater London Authority? The current edition states: “Development… should… sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of the [town] centre… be in scale with the [town] centre and contribute towards an enhanced environment, urban greening, public realm and links to green infrastructure.
“In housing terms… there is a particular need not just to increase overall housing output but to ensure that this is affordable, especially to families… it is essential that new provision creates more mixed and balanced communities and neighbourhoods.”
The plan also states that “existing trees of value should be retained and any loss as the result of development should be replaced”.
You can download the document from london.gov.uk and find as many more violations yourself within minutes. I think we know what the answer would be if you or I submitted a planning application for a loft extension or a garden shed that contravened half-a-dozen regulatory requirements.
I hope our borough’s planning department will have the courage and integrity to demonstrate that there is not one law for the ‘big boys’ with the deep pockets and another one for the people like us who exist merely to vote the councillors into office.
Comments on planning application 171355 are open until 26th July: