Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

'Masterplan' to gentrify Blackhorse Lane and build up to 3,700 homes agreed

The council hopes to create an "urban buzz" to attract new residents

Hero for 'Masterplan' to gentrify Blackhorse Lane and build up to 3,700 homes agreed
Blackhorse Lane (credit: James Cracknell)
By Victoria Munro 12 July 2022

Blackhorse Lane is set to become the borough’s version of Hackney Wick, according to a "masterplan" agreed by the Greater London Authority.Blackhorse Lane is set to become the borough’s version of Hackney Wick, according to a "masterplan" agreed by the Greater London Authority.

Waltham Forest Council feels the area’s growing popularity “as a place to live, work and visit” - typified by events like the Blackhorse Beer Mile - proves its “potential to deliver more” and offer “an urban buzz” to attract new residents.Waltham Forest Council feels the area’s growing popularity “as a place to live, work and visit” - typified by events like the Blackhorse Beer Mile - proves its “potential to deliver more” and offer “an urban buzz” to attract new residents.

Their recently completed "masterplan" divides the area into approximate thirds, with industry concentrated in the northern third and up to 3,700 new homes in the central and southern thirds.Their recently completed "masterplan" divides the area into approximate thirds, with industry concentrated in the northern third and up to 3,700 new homes in the central and southern thirds.

Industrial floorspace will be condensed by “stacking” businesses on top of each other to “free up land” for housing, with some new tall flat blocks built 18 storeys high or more.Industrial floorspace will be condensed by “stacking” businesses on top of each other to “free up land” for housing, with some new tall flat blocks built 18 storeys high or more.

Credit: Waltham Forest CouncilCredit: Waltham Forest Council

The plan reads: “In the last 30 years… the Lee Valley has evolved from its industrial roots to become home to creative mixed-use neighbourhoods, with notable developments in Hackney Wick, Sugarhouse Island and Tottenham Hale.The plan reads: “In the last 30 years… the Lee Valley has evolved from its industrial roots to become home to creative mixed-use neighbourhoods, with notable developments in Hackney Wick, Sugarhouse Island and Tottenham Hale.

“Large manufacturing has left [Blackhorse Lane], with the exit of Warren Evans in 2018. In recent years, it has seen the arrival of coworking spaces… and a rise in artisan manufacturing.”“Large manufacturing has left [Blackhorse Lane], with the exit of Warren Evans in 2018. In recent years, it has seen the arrival of coworking spaces… and a rise in artisan manufacturing.”

While a dozen different landowners own small parts of the area, the biggest landowner by far is American company BlackRock, who bought 11 acres of land for £51million in 2017.While a dozen different landowners own small parts of the area, the biggest landowner by far is American company BlackRock, who bought 11 acres of land for £51million in 2017.

Earlier this year, BlackRock began consulting on plans to build up to 1,800 new homes in eight tower blocks, ranging from 27 to 38 storeys.Earlier this year, BlackRock began consulting on plans to build up to 1,800 new homes in eight tower blocks, ranging from 27 to 38 storeys.

An artist's impression of the new development's view of the wetlands (Credit: NEAT)An artist's impression of the new development's view of the wetlands (Credit: NEAT)

Their land comprises the majority of the central sub-area set out in the council’s masterplan, which it states has room for 1,500-2,500 new homes.Their land comprises the majority of the central sub-area set out in the council’s masterplan, which it states has room for 1,500-2,500 new homes.

The northern third of the area will have its industrial space “intensified” by “doubling” the existing capacity of existing Lockwood Way and Delta Group industrial estates.The northern third of the area will have its industrial space “intensified” by “doubling” the existing capacity of existing Lockwood Way and Delta Group industrial estates.

The masterplan adds: “This is regarded as a reasonable and practical increase, which can properly address the… impacts on adjoining neighbours. The masterplan adds: “This is regarded as a reasonable and practical increase, which can properly address the… impacts on adjoining neighbours. 

“In the case of the northern part of BlackRock's site ownership, where detailed design testing has already been undertaken, a higher factor can be applied and justified.”“In the case of the northern part of BlackRock's site ownership, where detailed design testing has already been undertaken, a higher factor can be applied and justified.”

Industrial spaces stacked on top of each other (credit: WF Council)Industrial spaces stacked on top of each other (credit: WF Council)

This third is also home to Eden Girls’ School, which the plan notes is “unlikely to be significantly altered or to relocate” in the foreseeable future. This third is also home to Eden Girls’ School, which the plan notes is “unlikely to be significantly altered or to relocate” in the foreseeable future. 

It adds: “Given this, the masterplan should allow the school to continue to be operational in its existing configuration, while also keeping options for redevelopment in the future.” It adds: “Given this, the masterplan should allow the school to continue to be operational in its existing configuration, while also keeping options for redevelopment in the future.” 

While the council hopes to ensure Blackhorse Lane as a whole can accommodate most of its current 76,638sqm of industrial floorspace in addition to thousands of new homes, it adds that “this should be supplemented by new [industrial land] on more suitable sites in the borough”. While the council hopes to ensure Blackhorse Lane as a whole can accommodate most of its current 76,638sqm of industrial floorspace in addition to thousands of new homes, it adds that “this should be supplemented by new [industrial land] on more suitable sites in the borough”. 

The southernmost third of the area is home to the Forest Trading Estate and Hookers Way, which the plan notes already make “efficient use of space”.The southernmost third of the area is home to the Forest Trading Estate and Hookers Way, which the plan notes already make “efficient use of space”.

However, the council nonetheless feels the area has room for 700-1,200 new homes, which it suggests could be achieved “by adding additional storeys to existing buildings”. However, the council nonetheless feels the area has room for 700-1,200 new homes, which it suggests could be achieved “by adding additional storeys to existing buildings”. 

An aerial view of the current Blackhorse Lane (credit: WF Council/Google Earth)An aerial view of the current Blackhorse Lane (credit: WF Council/Google Earth)

While the council states the area is an appropriate home for new tall buildings, which it defines as 18 or more storeys, these will be concentrated in the middle of the site, away from Blackhorse Lane itself and the border to Walthamstow Wetlands.While the council states the area is an appropriate home for new tall buildings, which it defines as 18 or more storeys, these will be concentrated in the middle of the site, away from Blackhorse Lane itself and the border to Walthamstow Wetlands.

The plan states: “The Wetlands edge is an important and sensitive wildlife habitat that needs to be respected and protected. The plan states: “The Wetlands edge is an important and sensitive wildlife habitat that needs to be respected and protected. 

“Buildings should step down in height and new public spaces should be introduced along the Wetlands Edge.”“Buildings should step down in height and new public spaces should be introduced along the Wetlands Edge.”

The area’s regeneration is a key part of the council’s overall plan to see 27,000 new homes in the borough by 2035, which government inspectors recently suggested was not “justified” or “deliverable”.The area’s regeneration is a key part of the council’s overall plan to see 27,000 new homes in the borough by 2035, which government inspectors recently suggested was not “justified” or “deliverable”.