Warning over ‘Lea Bridge Town Centre’ plans

Threat to green space as council plans hundred of homes, reports Judith Burnett

Karl Weiss

Karl Weiss next to one of the small green spaces earmarked for redevelopment in Lea Bridge Road (credit Judith Burnett)

Residents in Leyton have hit out at plans to create a new town centre around Lea Bridge Station as “privatising public land”.

In addition to the ongoing construction of three 18-storey tower blocks in Lea Bridge Road and proposals for a 22-storey tower next to the railway station, Waltham Forest Council wants to allow developers to build 300 homes on a public ‘pocket park’ and adjacent industrial land. All three developments centre around a single junction; between Lea Bridge Road, Orient Way and Argall Way.

Simon Rix, a member of Lea Bridge Neighbourhood Forum, says the new flats will dominate the skyline. He told the Echo: “It feels like a cliff of glass and concrete. This is a privatisation of public land. This is still a working-class community. We don’t want to see it destroyed and driven out.”

Simon says Lea Bridge Road already acts as a “traffic funnel” and local residents are concerned about the impact of additional traffic on the area. The council hopes to redesign the junction to accommodate the new homes, while also reducing car use – parking at the three sites will only be provided for disabled residents.

Plans for the 22-storey ‘landmark’ tower at Lea Bridge Station include expanding the station’s entrance and creation of a new ‘station place’, but this would mean losing the green space and trees that surround the existing entrance.

Karl Weiss, another member of the Lea Bridge Neighbourhood Forum, is concerned about increased pollution and damage to the environment, as well as potential additional flood risk from over-development of the area. “This is the green lung of Waltham Forest. Does the word ‘Forest’ not mean something?”

Further to consultation with the local community, the council has created a stronger requirement for developers to include high-quality, publicly-accessible green space in their proposals for the pocket park site. It has also agreed to drop plans for an access route from Orient Way to Elm Park Road.

The council stated: “As part of the proposed development of this site, the majority of the existing green space will be lost. However, the new scheme will be required to include both public and private amenity space, with a requirement for green amenity space, although the exact area is not currently known at this stage.”

Under the draft London Plan agreed by the Greater London Authority, Waltham Forest has been given a target of building 1,800 new homes per year – double the previous target. The Lea Bridge area falls under the much wider ‘Blackhorse Lane and Northern Olympic Park Housing Zone’ where thousands of homes are planned.

A developer for the pocket park site is now being sought by the council, with a planning application expected later this year.