Walthamstow Central to be expanded as part of shopping centre’s redevelopment, reports James Cracknell
Changes to long-running plans for the redevelopment of The Mall in Walthamstow will include a new and expanded tube station.
Transport for London (TfL) has taken the chance to submit a planning application for new tunnelling under Selborne Road, leading up to a step-free entrance alongside a new and expanded shopping centre.
On current projections for passenger growth, if Walthamstow Central was not expanded it would become dangerously overcrowded by the year 2031. But the addition of a second entrance with new escalators and a lift would mean passengers could more easily reach the far end of the tube platforms, spreading people throughout the trains. The total cost of the work has not been revealed but TfL had previously said it would spend £15million on improvements, with The Mall’s owners Capital & Regional (C&R) agreeing to contribute £1.5m.
The tube station plans were unveiled today at a public consultation event alongside changes to plans for the previously-approved redevelopment of The Mall. C&R is seeking to modify the planning permission granted in December 2017, which included four residential tower blocks providing 502 homes, more shops and a revamped Walthamstow Town Square.
Changes include making most of the new homes available directly for rent. The amount of ‘affordable’ housing remains at 20%, although it will no longer be for shared ownership, and half would be at social rent levels. Following an intervention from the Mayor of London last year, C&R also agreed to fund construction of a further 50 ‘affordable’ homes elsewhere in Waltham Forest.
The controversial revamp of Walthamstow Town Square, which includes reducing public space by one third and chopping down 81 mature trees, has sparked significant protest from local residents. However, these plans are not being changed. Asked why, a C&R spokesperson told the Echo: “Because of the different levels between the bus station and The Mall, you have to level the town square and make it flat. You can’t do that without removing some of the trees – the roots will be exposed.”
Although 94 new trees will be planted, giving a net gain of eleven trees in the town square, climate campaigners argue that mature trees can absorb up to 100 times more CO2 compared to young trees. Waltham Forest Council owns the town square and although it declared a ‘climate emergency’ last year, councillors have refused to reconsider chopping the mature trees down.
The ‘Save Our Square’ campaign group claims a crucial opportunity to modify the plans has been missed. At the consultation event campaigner Alison Hill told the Echo: “There is no reason to cut the trees down, it is just landscaping. They say they have to level it, but why not keep it sloped? They have done a redesign without even looking at the town square. C&R will make a huge fortune from building luxury flats and all we’ll get in return is a new tube entrance.”
The other chief criticism of the original plans from 2017 was the height of the four towers proposed, with the tallest being twice the height of the nearby Travelodge hotel. Although the new plans do not change the maximum height, the “massing” of the towers has been altered to make the development “more active and vibrant”. The tallest tower will now be 31 storeys rather than the previously proposed 29, but C&R insist the overall height remains unaltered.
Lawrence Hutchings, chief executive of Capital & Regional said: “It is important to us that extension of The Mall meets the expectations of residents and shoppers and the feedback we receive at the exhibition will help us to do that.
“This £200 million investment will transform Walthamstow town centre, providing an improved retail and leisure offer, creating hundreds of new jobs, and delivering much-needed new homes for Walthamstow.
“Since the previous consent was granted, Capital & Regional has been working with Waltham Forest Council and Transport for London to find ways to incorporate feedback from the community and improve these plans for The Mall, in particular to integrate a potential second station entrance to Walthamstow Central and a new ticket hall.
“These improvements will also mean the development is less disruptive and allow construction to be completed in a shorter time period.”
Following public consultation, a ‘Section 73’ application to amend the existing planning permission is expected to be submitted this winter.
The amended plans for The Mall are available to view online and local people are invited to have their say. The public consultation event continues on Saturday from 10am-6pm at 202 Hoe Street, Walthamstow E17 4BS: