Leyton News

‘Flagship’ housing scheme in hot water after council land mix-up

A road the council believed was a public highway is actually privately owned
By Victoria Munro

A CGI of the finished Coronation Square scheme (credit: Taylor Wimpey)
A CGI of the finished Coronation Square scheme (credit: Taylor Wimpey)

The council’s “flagship regeneration scheme” is in hot water for the second time due to a mix-up over land ownership.

The £190million “Coronation Square” scheme on the Score Centre site in Leyton, which promises to deliver 750 new homes, was awarded planning permission in April 2020.

Just over a year later, Waltham Forest Council leaders had to give developer Taylor Wimpey a £6.9million discount on the land and agree to buy all 1,762 square metres of commercial space being built after “unforeseen costs” threatened to “significantly” delay construction.

Now, the scheme has once again run into trouble after the council discovered that a road it believed was a public highway was actually privately owned by waste company Bywaters.

A CGI of the planned scheme (credit: Taylor Wimpey)

A report prepared for a private meeting of council leaders, to be held on 24th August, reads: “In late 2021, the council was made aware that the adjacent landowner had placed items on public highway land that fell within the red line boundary of the… Coronation Square development. 

“The council wrote to the landowner to request that they remove the items from the highway. The landowner responded and advised that the land was in fact within its ownership and provided legal documentation confirming this.”

Taylor Wimpey warned that, without public access via this road, “there could be fire, servicing, refuse and access issues” to one of the five planned flat blocks.

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Both the council and Taylor Wimpey have been in negotiations with Bywaters to gain access since March but “these negotiations have, to date, been unsuccessful”.

The council may therefore need to use a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO), a legal way of forcing landowners to sell – or in this case provide access rights – where not doing so obstructs a project benefiting the “greater public good”. 

While the report states officers will “continue to engage” with Bywaters in the hopes of avoiding the costly and complex process, it asks council leaders to authorise a CPO “as a last resort”.

A CGI of the planned scheme (credit: Taylor Wimpey)

The report adds: “Without the land, there would be a loss of economic, social and environmental public benefits, including the loss of housing units.

“Taylor Wimpey started construction on site in May 2021 and works are progressing at pace. The first residential units are due to be complete and occupied by the end of 2022.

“Coronation Square is the council’s flagship regeneration scheme and will deliver 750 new homes, 50% of which will be affordable. It will also deliver new sports, leisure, health, community and commercial facilities on the site.”

Bywaters own a waste management centre just next door to the Score Centre site and originally planned to work with the council and Taylor Wimpey to “deliver a cycle and pedestrian link from Osier Way to Dunedin Road”.

This was to form part of their own housing scheme, set to deliver “730 new homes, a two form primary school and public realm improvements” on the site.

However, the report notes that “outline planning permission lapsed in 2021” and “negotiations… to continue delivery of the link were unsuccessful”.

Both Bywaters and the council have been approached for comment.

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