Struggle to finalise 15-year homes plan continues

The council will consult residents on its Local Plan for a second time this year

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Stock image (Credit: Unsplash/Nikola Johnny Mirkovic)

Waltham Forest residents will be asked again for their thoughts on where new homes should be built around the borough as the council struggles to finalise its 15-year plan.

Last summer, government planning inspectors refused to approve Waltham Forest Council’s draft Local Plan, which set out where 27,000 new homes could be built over 15 years, due to “significant concerns” about whether it was “justified and deliverable”.

While the council refused to back down over the 27,000 figure, which would mean an average of 1,800 homes a year, it made changes to the list of sites it deemed suitable for “tall buildings” of ten or more storeys.

Six sites – four in the north of the borough, one in Wood Street and one in Leytonstone – were removed from the list, while three sites in Walthamstow town centre and one site in Leyton were added.

As a result, the council now needs to consult with residents again about its revised plan, with the rerun consultation expected to take place this August.

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At a meeting of the council’s growth scrutiny committee on 31st January, assistant director of place and design Sarah Parsons said the council hopes to hear from a more diverse mix of residents this time around, as many of the previous 3,239 representations appeared to come from “white, middle-class homeowners”.

She added: “We’ve learned a lot about community engagement and there have been real improvements in the way in which we engage with local people. It’s not the easiest subject to discuss with people ‘do you want an Aldi in your town centre or Lidl?’ – so how are we going to do something that is meaningful?

“We would like to think it would be a very different beast and to hear views from people in the private rental sector, young people and people with learning disabilities. It’s a little bit ‘watch this space’, but we’re really keen to meet that challenge.”

A report summarising the new responses is due to be completed in “early 2023”.

Since the last round of consultation finished early last year, the council has carried out further public consultations on “area frameworks” for neighbourhoods including Chingford Mount, Lea Bridge and South Leytonstone.

Early last year, Chingford Mount residents criticised the council’s “digital-first approach” to consultations on sites for redevelopment in their area, which one local slated as “​​flawed from start to finish”.

A public examination of part one of the Local Plan is due to take place at Waltham Forest’s town hall from 7th to 10th March this year.

Further information can be found on the council’s website here.

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