Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Vote due on 29-storey town centre redevelopment

Councillors will decide whether 500-home Walthamstow scheme goes ahead One of the biggest redevelopment plans in Waltham Forest’s history is due to [...]

By Waltham Forest Echo 05 December 2017

Councillors will decide whether 500-home Walthamstow scheme goes ahead

Proposed view from Selbourne Road of The Mall redevelopment

One of the biggest redevelopment plans in Waltham Forest’s history is due to be voted on by councillors next week.

If approved, The Mall’s extension would include four towers up to 29 storeys tall and reduce the size of Walthamstow Town Square and Gardens by around one-third. It has not yet been revealed how much affordable housing it would provide.

The proposal is set to be decided at a special planning committee meeting on Wednesday 13th December. Protests are expected to take place outside Walthamstow Assembly Hall, where the meeting will start from 7pm, after thousands of people signed petitions and wrote objections against the plan by developers Capital & Regional for 502 homes in the town centre.

The planning committee ordinarily meets in the council chamber of Waltham Forest Town Hall, but the assembly hall has been chosen instead to allow more people to attend. The council had also previously announced the date of the meeting as 29th November, but postponed it “to allow for a request from the Mayor of London for further information”.

Sadiq Khan was elected as mayor last year on a manifesto that included a pledge to “ensure tall buildings respect the character of existing neighbourhoods”. If built, the 29-storey towers at The Mall would be double the height of Walthamstow town centre’s current tallest building, the 14-storey Travelodge hotel built five years ago. The mayor’s powers include an ability to ‘call in’ planning applications that may contradict the London Plan, a policy document that lays out guidelines for development around the capital.

In 2012, Khan’s predecessor Boris Johnson called-in the plan to demolish Walthamstow Stadium and build a 295-home estate in its place, but eventually agreed with the council’s decision to approve it.

Capital & Regional argue its scheme would boost the local economy by up to £4million per year, with the council set to receive an extra £1.75m in rates as a result.

Local resident David Gardiner handed in a petition earlier this year with more than 2,000 signatures. He said: “Essentially the council is being asked to sacrifice public space and allow the erection of these ridiculously high towers in exchange for public ‘benefits’ that are almost entirely fictional.

“The reality is the council is being held to ransom by developers because local authorities are being forced to cosy up to big business to harvest rates and remain viable.”

Launching the scheme earlier this year Ken Ford, Capital & Regional’s executive director, said: “Walthamstow town centre is emerging as one of London’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. We see huge potential to create an integrated destination .”