Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Former council leader joins developer behind controversial project

The former leader of Waltham Forest Council has joined the board of a new social housing provider

Hero for Former council leader joins developer behind controversial project
An artist's impression of how the finished Lea Bridge Station regeneration will look (Hawkins Brown/Exterior Architecture)
By Victoria Munro 01 November 2021

The former leader of Waltham Forest Council has a new job, which puts her on the payroll of a developer seeking planning permission for a controversial Leyton scheme.

On 13th September, Clare Coghill, who announced she was resigning as leader in June, was appointed to the board of affordable housing provider Square Roots.

Square Roots is a subsidiary of developer London Square, who submitted a planning application in August to build more than 300 homes on three sites near Lea Bridge Station.

The development, if approved, would mean demolishing the Orient Way Pocket Park and, last month, campaigners opposing the plans promised personal protection for all 122 of its trees.

An activist poses with the London Maple she has promised to protect (Credit: Friends of Orient Way Pocket Park)

Commenting on her appointment as vice-chair on the London Square website last month, Cllr Coghill said: “The shortage of affordable housing grows more acute each year.

“I look forward to playing my part in helping Square Roots flourish and make a significant contribution to the housing stock for key workers, who are responsible for vital services in London.”

London Square was formally appointed as the council’s development partner for the Lea Bridge Station regeneration in March.

It plans to build more than 300 homes, aiming to make half affordable rent or shared ownership, in towers of up to 22 storeys, as well as a new entrance to Lea Bridge Station.

An artist's impression of the finished Lea Bridge Station regeneration (Hawkins Brown/Exterior Architecture)

Cllr Coghill does not plan to run for re-election in the local elections next May.

However, those opposed to the regeneration worry her connection to London Square may have already given it an unfair advantage.

Responding to these concerns, a council spokesperson said: “Cllr Clare Coghill stepped down as leader on 2nd September and has signalled her intention not to stand in the local elections next year.

“Councillors are required to register any interests within 35 days of any appointment and would not be permitted to attend any session or influence any decision related to any organisation she worked for, as laid down in the Councillors Code of Conduct.”

The spokesperson further noted that Cllr Coghill is not a member of the council’s planning committee.

It has not yet been announced when the planning committee will consider the application, although the next scheduled meeting is 7th December.