Furious residents were told councillors couldn’t “find any valid reason to refuse” under national planning laws By Local Democracy Reporter Josh Mellor
Unpopular plans to build new flats on top of existing buildings in a small Leytonstone estate were given the green light earlier this week.
The proposals, approved on 6th December, will see developer Southern Territory add ten flats to three three-storey buildings in Brockway Close.
Waltham Forest’s planning officer Teodora Dimitrova said the permitted development proposals were “not a planning application” and could only be rejected by councillors if they failed a “technical assessment”.
Southern Territory’s proposals were “acceptable” in planning terms, Teodora added, as they would not “cause unacceptable harm” to the living conditions of residents.
Several unhappy Brockway Close residents urged the council’s planning committee to reject the scheme, arguing the extensions would affect their light, privacy and safety.
Resident Gemma Oke argued that a recent Planning Inspectorate decision for a similar proposal in Leabank Square, Hackney, showed the committee had the power to reject the scheme due to its impact on surrounding homes, such as a loss of light.
She added: “There is precedent and legal capacity for you to consider these proposals and to refuse permission if they don’t meet the requirements set out by law – you are entitled to say no.”
Assistant director of management and building control Justin Carr said planners had already taken into account the Leabank Square decision.
He added: “Nevertheless we considered that the impact on the street scene and character of the area is not harmful and certainly not sufficient to justify refusal.”
Noah Blackmore said he was “extremely concerned” about the loss of light to his home, which he suggested the planning report only “vaguely” mentions.
Southern Territory’s owner Tas Alexandru and planning agent Jerry Bell argued that “only nine” windows would see a 20-30% loss of light, which is considered a “minor impact” in planning terms.
Jerry added: “I appreciate that people are concerned about noise, but with the prefabricated structures a lot of work is going to be off-site and then brought onto the site.”
The committee voted in favour, saying the controversial “permitted development” rules introduced by the government in 2020 gave them no choice.
Councillor Steve Terry said he was “rather bound” by the law but that it was “often really difficult hearing concerns”.
Committee chair Jenny Gray added: “I know that residents will be disappointed but we are constrained in what we can do.
“It’s been established there are differences between this and [a planning decision in ] Haringey and Hackney. We can’t find any valid reason to refuse this… but thanks for coming.”