Saturday, 24 June 2017

Help with Town Centre objections

45 Selbourne Road, E17 7JR

Some suggestions about where to concentrate objections.

Comments in italics are from the Design & Access Statement.

1.      1. Planning AppFull planning permission for a new Town Square and new leisure and retail, Outline Planning Permission for the 4 residential tower blocks for 500 dwellings. This is because they have not signed up a developer to build the tower blocks and it needs to be vague so the developer can say what they want to build. 

I     In other words the Planning Committee has to decide if tower blocks are appropriate to this site and conform to the: LONDON PLAN , LBWF Local Development Plan  and the TOWN CENTRE AREA ACTION PLAN,   LBWF TOWN CENTRE STRATEGY PLAN, LBWF TOWN CENTRE DELIVERY PLAN (which they do!).

      2. High Rise - The purpose of the tower blocks is to “by reputation and by physical presence, promote Walthamstow in a wider London context and mark the location of the Town Square”. The redesign of the adjoining public space “which presently performs poorly and adds little to the enjoyment of visiting the Town Centre”.

3.       3. HousingThe London Plan expects Waltham Forest to build 862 units of accommodation but the council has decided to allow 12,000 units across the Borough by 2020, 50% to be affordable! There is no need for this development to help meet the London Plan target – that is already well achieved.

4.       4. Density permitted is managed by PTAL and the Town Centre, being adjacent to transport links, is the highest rated at PTAL 6. This allows for between 200 and 700 habitable rooms per hectare (Hr/Ha). Capital & Regional (C&R) state this development is between 115 and 164 (Hr/Ha). This needs to be checked to ensure it is correct.

5.     5. London Plan, which this development has to comply with, states for high rise developments:  

               a  generally be limited to sites in the Central Activity Zone, opportunity areas, areas of                       intensification or town centres that have good access to public transport

b  only be considered in areas whose character would not be affected adversely by the scale, mass or bulk of a tall or large building
c  relate well to the form, proportion, composition, scale and character of surrounding buildings, urban grain and public realm (including landscape features), particularly at street level;
d  individually or as a group, improve the legibility of an area, by emphasising a point of civic or visual significance where appropriate, and enhance the skyline and image of London
e  incorporate the highest standards of architecture and materials, including sustainable design and construction practices
f  have ground floor activities that provide a positive relationship to the surrounding streets
g  contribute to improving the permeability of the site and wider area, where possible
h  incorporate publicly accessible areas on the upper floors, where appropriate
i  make a significant contribution to local regeneration.

6.       6. Policies - LBWF Policy CS1 identifies the Town Centre for 2,000 new homes so this is only a quarter of what they want in the centre of Walthamstow.
 Policy CS1.4 relates to an attractive and vibrant Town Centre.

7.       7. Town Centre Area Action Plan states “no negative impact on amenity values due to overshadowing” Objections need to prove this is not the case.

8.       8. Link to station – there will be a tunnel from the station to the shopping centre. I assume this can be built as they had great difficulty building the stairs from the Bus Station because of a huge pipe which is in the way. I forget if it is a sewer or water. Objections need to explore if this really can be built at an economic cost.

9.       9. LBWF Town Square Design Objectives state “minimise loss of open space and demonstrate that improvements provided by the re-imagined Town Square compensate for any proposals to reduce open space.” Objections need to address this issue.

      10. The consultation held by C&R last year showed a majority thought “the lawns are the most popular element of the existing gardens and there is a desire for any future proposals to retain them”. “The avenue of Limes should be retained” Check the plans against this public view. One picture seems to show some of the limes missing!

1     11. Construction period“the Mall must remain fully operational during the development” “Development proposals must not impact on the High Street Market” “Development site sits above an underground line which presents logistical challenges in construction”
At the two consultation sessions ask how this will be achieved and the delivery of all the plant and equipment to the site without clogging up the existing streets. How will the work force arrive at site?

1    12. Transport – the residential will be car free except for 25 disabled spaces located in the existing car park. There will be 904 cycle spaces for the residents of the flats.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Council's response to the Town Centre questions

Dear Mr Stannard

Thank you for your interest in the application to redevelop The Mall.  As Cabinet member for Economic growth and High Streets I thought it might be helpful if I clarified some points. My answers to the issues you raise are set out below:

1.       Consultation
·          In view of the scale, complexity and importance of the proposals LBWF has instigated an enhanced  public consultation process which includes direct mailing to 10 000+ town centre addresses, an extended consultation period until late July (rather than standard 21 days), a summary flyer and public drop in sessions at Walthamstow Library on 3 July between 1pm – 3pm and 6 July 5pm – 7pm.
·          We are aware that there are difficulties in downloading plans from the website.  We are therefore transferring the application on to our Local Plan Consultation system.  This should be done by the end of the day and should enable easier access to and viewing of the application information and plans.  A hard copy of the application is available to view at the Council’s offices (Sycamore House) and at the library.
·          Dates for the drop in sessions etc. were included in our flyer and we are using social media and other digital channels to publicise this further.

This is one of the most important applications we have in the system at the moment and we are going to extra lengths to ensure that residents and others have an opportunity to have their say.

2.       Resident Safety
·          Residents safety is our absolute priority both during construction and post completion.
·          As part of the planning application consultation we will be liaising with our own building control and highways teams, Met Police, London Fire Brigade and TfL.  All but the first are statutory consultees for an application of this nature.
·          This should ensure that concerns about construction methodology, the principle of the safety of the building and access and servicing arrangements for all traffic including emergency vehicles are fully addressed as part of the consideration of the application.
·          We will of course comply with any changes in regulations that come out of the Grenfell House investigation and inquiry.

3.       Benefits of the scheme
·          The benefits of redeveloping The Mall were highlighted as part of the Walthamstow Town Centre Area Action Plan
·          These include a re-invigorated, flagship retail and cultural venue with improved shops, food and drink uses and an enhanced town square.  The development would deliver much needed homes along with significant numbers of new jobs both during the construction period and permanent jobs within the completed development
·          Without the significant investment that the scheme will deliver these benefits could not be realised.

4.       High quality
·          We are striving to deliver high quality development across the Borough. To enable this we have established the Waltham Forest Design Review Panel delivered by CABE.  The Panel has already reviewed the scheme and amendments and improvements that they suggested have been made incorporated.
·          By working with the applicants, Capital and Regional, and seeking this external review of the proposals we are confident that a high quality development can be achieved.

5.       Engagement with other stakeholders
·          We have been liaising with the GLA and the London Mayor in the run up to the submission of the planning application.
·          By working with the Mayor and other partners, such as TfL, we are hoping to deliver a package of town centre improvements that will provide the best deal for Walthamstow.
·          This will build on the success of other schemes that have already been delivered such as The Scene and the town centre public realm scheme.

I hope this is useful and answers the concerns you raise.

With best wishes


Simon Miller
A Labour Councillor for Leyton
Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and High Streets

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Town Hall Campus Plans

Cabinet Paper

Waltham Forest Guardian

The Cabinet have agreed development around the Town Hall should be carried out to enable a more efficient Town Hall. They have also purchased the Magistrates Court so they have plenty of land to create new offices and develop the site. What they seem to miss is the Grade II listed 1930s buildings look amazing because of their setting. It would be local authority vandalism if this is not protected. Looking at the Cabinet paper this does not seem to be an important consideration - saving money on administration is the main reason for the development.

Key points for the Cabinet Paper:

1.2 Implementation will transform and improve the way the Council currently operates and delivers its services to residents as follows:
· Allow investment within the Town Hall and the Campus 2
· Create a new neighbourhood within the heart of Chapel End
Surely this site is important to all residents not just those of one ward!
· Reduce running costs by £300k pa
· Avoid the need for future capital investment in the current estate by circa £4m and significantly reduce the Council’s carbon footprint
 · Allow for the development of circa 348 new homes
· Generate future Council Tax income in the region of £361k pa

Making best use of the corporate estate and improving the efficiency of the organisation, is a key theme of Redefining Waltham Forest 2020. Key objectives include:
· Improving service delivery
· Investing in and fully opening up the Campus to residents, visitors and business within the Borough
Why should the site be spoiled by inappropriate usage?
· Rationalisation of the estate to release land to contribute to the Council’s Economic Growth, including new affordable housing
· Reduce running costs and ensure the Council has an estate for future service needs

The Council, as part of its people and business transformation strategies, is constantly reviewing and improving its operational model. The current estate is a hindrance to future improvements.
Other councils would see this as a precious resource and be proud of it not regard it as hinderance!

The largest landholding in the Civic Estate is the Town Hall Campus. (Appendix 1). The Council entered into a conditional sale agreement with Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to acquire the Magistrates Court on the 19th July 2016 (“Magistrates Agreement”). Once the conditions of the Magistrates Agreement have been satisfied, the purchase of the Magistrates Court will complete. This is imminent and will mean the Council will control the total site, and there is a significant opportunity to redevelop the site.

This is whilst maintaining and investing in the Council’s key heritage buildings, the Grade II listed Town Hall and Assembly Hall. 

Key objectives of this consolidation would be the following:
· The transformation of the Town Hall Campus into a new neighbourhood within the heart of Chapel End. This will be a commercial, residential, civic, cultural and community quarter fully opened up for residents. It will reinforce the investment in the community following completion of the Feel Good centre.
Surely other Wards near by need to get some benefit as well? 
· The creation of a cafĂ©, business opportunities and a range of cultural activities
· The potential to create a joined up Health/Community/Social Care Hub on site
· Opening up the grounds around the Campus to create new parks in a safe environment
How many parks do we need? - the Borough's premiere park, Lloyd Park, is 5 minutes away
· Securing the future of the Grade II listed Town Hall and Assembly Hall by improving its surrounding environment
The current surrounding was part of the 1930s design - can it really be improved?
· Opening up the Town Hall for use as a wedding venue by residents
Apparently weddings will be held in the Council Chamber and Committee rooms - does this not downgrade their democratic importance?
· Restoration of the War Memorial
· A fit for purpose, modern reception area for visitors to the council
The entrance was recently adapted to make it a fit reception area!
· A rationalised, cost-efficient civic estate, which will save the council an estimated £300,000 each year
· Surplus brownfield land and buildings to be reused for new residential development with an affordable housing target of 35%
· Additional space to be made available for other public organisations which would in turn release other surplus sites for housing and other uses through the One Public Estate programme
· Implementing a sustainable transport policy and reducing the carbon footprint of its operating model
Does this mean removing parking spaces - it caused a huge revolt when they tried to charge officers for parking a few years ago!

· The project to be self-funding with receipts from housing covering the investment in new accommodation and the public realm over a 4 year period

Monday, 19 June 2017

Town Centre - Councillors

To LBWF Councillors


1.       Please get the plans for the Town Centre made accessible to the public. Planning App 171355 on the planning web site will not download as the files are too large. Previous large plans have been given their own dedicated web site and the files split up.

The officers have had the plans since April but there was no mention of them in the latest WFN and hard copies of all the documents should be available in the Central Library. As it is a complex plan officers should be holding presentation sessions to show what is proposed. Why is the council deliberately keeping the public in the dark about this huge redevelopment?

2.       The scale and massing is totally inappropriate for the Town Centre and the whole of the Mall site should have been cleared to get the right spacing between the tower blocks instead of squeezing them on to the edge by Selbourne Road.

3.       Where is the space for emergency vehicles?

4.       If a fire broke out in one block it could easily spread to another block as they are so close. Do the blocks have two staircases and sprinkler systems and will the cladding be fire proof? No doubt Kensington and Chelsea Council said Grenfell Tower complied with all regulations. Do you want a repeat of that disaster in Walthamstow?  There is no need to redevelop the already successful shopping centre so why take the risk?

5.       Has the London Fire Brigade examined the plans properly to ensure they are safe? Have you checked this has been properly carried out?

6.       How can the site be redeveloped with 4 huge tower blocks one being 29 storeys – twice the height of anything around, while keeping the Mall operating? Will shoppers’ lives be at risk from the building works which will be very close? How will the developer ensure the streets of Walthamstow are not clogged up while the heavy lorries deliver materials and the work force come into the centre? – the bus station already struggles with the traffic congestion.

7.       Over 500 dwellings are proposed which will be at least 1,500 more people in the Town Centre and on public transport which is already bursting at the seams.  A further 500 dwellings have been agreed to in the St James Street area before the Buxton Road site is developed. How will the existing users manage with the extra crowds?

8.       The green space, vitally important for a good environment, will be decimated and will be in greater demand. Any chance of expanding the bus station will have to be abandoned as there will be not be space for it.

This is one of the worst schemes I have seen, is totally unnecessary and will destroy Walthamstow as we know it. It will make residents lives a misery while it is constructed and will then pour masses more people on to our already congested streets and public transport. This scheme must be abandoned.


Friday, 16 June 2017

Town Centre to be wrecked

Apparently the plans will be on display in the Mall 

Central Library  3rd July 1pm to 3pm and 6th July 5pm to 7pm

Story from Walthamstow Echo

Planning Application 171355
45 Selbourne Road E17 7JR
The council received this on the 4th April and have only just put it on the Planning site.

The plan is to :
Extend the retail area
Provide up to 502 flats over the top of the Mall with a 49m high block (29 storeys)
Rework what is left of the Town Centre

In typical Waltham Forest fashion the planning web site cannot cope with this application and most of the important documents are missing so I have been unable to find any drawings or details of how they think they can build this without bringing the centre of Walthamstow grinding to a halt.

Make sure you object. Imagine what would happen if a fire broke out above the shopping centre!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Tower Block Disaster

The horrendous fire at Grenfell Tower is a huge shock and disaster for London to say nothing of the residents who have lost everything. So what lessons are there for Waltham Forest?

1.       Building Regulations appear to be wrong but all new buildings have to be checked to ensure they comply with the regulations. The Government needs to urgently find the cause and get the regulations sorted out. This is very worrying for Waltham Forest with so many new buildings going up.
2.       The council needs to ensure the building regulations are being applied and the Government needs to urgently check they are effective regulations.
       London Plan - this needs to be amended to stop forcing local authorities to build high rise tower blocks in Town Centres.

3.       Town Centre – the plans for a 29 storey tower block over the Mall shopping centre should be scrapped immediately. If it was built and a fire broke out there would not be enough space for the emergency services to operate. The railways would be affected and the Town Centre’s commerce would grind to a halt. This is not a price worth paying to house even more people in our congested Borough.

4.       Strettons’ plans for a 13 storey block at the gyratory junction of Hoe Street and St Mary Road should be scrapped. There would be no space for the emergency services and they would block key roads bringing Walthamstow to a halt.

5.       97 Lea Bridge Road – this scheme for 18 storey tower block should be stopped while a review is carried out of the design – are there 2 staircases and sprinklers in the blocks and what cladding is being used?

6.       Marlowe Road – the current building of 8 storey blocks at the base of the Northwood Tower should be stopped as they occupy the space needed by the emergency services if a fire developed in the tower block. Is the cladding, which improved the look of the building many years ago fire proof?

7.       John Walsh and Fred Wigg towers in Leyton should not be refurbished but demolished and decent low rise housing provided for residents. Grenfell Tower shows what could happen if these tower blocks are refurbished.

8.       Councillors need to take more notice of what new buildings are going on in their patch and shout loudly if they have concerns for the safety of the occupants of the buildings.

We all need to shout loud and clear that the murder of all these people in West London is unforgivable and was avoidable. Urgent action is needed to establish the facts and then change our building techniques so it can never happen again.