Backlash over 20-storey scheme

How the Inland Homes scheme would look as viewed from Forest Road
How the Inland Homes scheme would look as viewed from Forest Road

Homebase redevelopment provokes angry response from local community, reports James Cracknell

A developer has revealed its plans for a series of towers on the site of Homebase in Walthamstow.

Inland Homes, which bought the Fulbourne Road site for £28million, presented its proposals in an online exhibition last month, provoking a backlash from some residents who say it doesn’t fit with the local area and would impact negatively on nearby Epping Forest. A campaign called Fulbourne Road Development Community Group has now been formed to fight against the plans.

The development would comprise 650 homes in eight buildings up to 20 storeys tall, plus 850 square metres of commercial space, 9,500sqm of open space including new public squares, and a £6m contribution to local infrastructure improvements. The ‘affordable’ housing element would be 35%, below Waltham Forest Council’s 50% target.

A four-year construction period would provide 190 jobs, while the scheme would support around 40 permanent jobs once built. However, dozens of jobs will also be lost from the closure of Homebase, which currently occupies the site.

The development becomes the latest in a long line of high-rise schemes planned for Waltham Forest. A number of towers, up to 22 storeys, are currently being built next to Blackhorse Road Station; several others of similar height are now planned next to Lea Bridge Station; and two 31-storey skyscrapers form part of a proposed extension to The Mall adjacent to Walthamstow Central Station.

The Fulbourne Road proposal differs in being nearly half-a-mile away from Wood Street Station, but it does lie within an area dubbed ‘Forest Road corridor’ which the council has earmarked for 1,250 new homes. The Epping Forest Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI) is 500 metres away.

Alistair Martin, a Greenway Avenue resident, told the Echo: “Does anyone look at the recent jumble of mismatched high-rise towers at Tottenham Hale and Blackhorse Road and think ‘this is great’?

“The local area is defined by its proximity to Epping Forest. It’s an area in which almost every existing building is two storeys high. What is the point of a high-rise suburb here?

“This is greed, and greed is not good.”

In an open letter, 76 members of Fulbourne Road Development Community Group list several key objections to the scheme, including its height and impact on local amenities. They write in their letter: “It is clear that the proposals do not respond well to the deficiencies in open or green space locally nor the requirements on developments not to harm the wildlife value of Epping Forest.”

Residents have until Monday 3rd August to comment on the plans before a planning application is due to be submitted later in August. In its online presentation, Inland Homes states: “The Forest Road corridor and Wood Street area have been identified as opportunities in the draft Local Plan, where change is encouraged and redevelopment supported. The corridor presents the opportunity, through reconfiguration and investment, to substantially improve its appearance, functioning and relationship to existing and new development.

“The proposal is for a residential-led development with commercial space, high-quality landscaping and public space for community use.”

Find out more about the plans:
Visit fulbourneroadregen.co.uk