Friday, 22 June 2018

Walthamstow Garden Party July 14 & 15 July

Walthamstow Garden Party in Lloyd Park even better for 2018 and now environmentally friendly - plastic minimised and taps for refilling your bottles! Opportunity for scavengers to collect any glasses left lying around and claim the £1 deposit back. The glasses will then be washed off site and used on another occasion - real recyling as it was in the 1950s!!

Walthamstow Garden Party

Town Centre Saga Part 3 - Housing

Over 4,700 flats are being built in Walthamstow and another 500 planned for the Town Centre. This is far too many without improvements to the infrastructure i.e. better transport, more health facilities, schools, parks but much of this is not happening due to lack of money. There is no room for improved transport - no space for new roads and extra lines for the tube light years away if ever!

Most of the new flats are outside the range of those on the London average wage of £35k - Essex Brewery 3 bed flat is £800k and a 2 bed in Walthamstow Gateway is £400k. So what is meant by "affordable" ?

It now gets very complicated as the definitions are endless as these links show:

Social and Affordable Housing

Mayor's Definition

Waltham Forest Draft Affordable Housing

Friday, 15 June 2018

Town Centre saga part 2

As is normal with very large developments independent consultants are asked to check the developer’s figures. Having looked at these heavily redacted reports I have found some interesting information.

The Mall has 69 units in 24,155 sqm and was built in 1988 on a 250 year lease. The plan is to increase the Mall by adding 94,390 sqm of retail and leisure - nearly a 400% increase.

The four tower blocks will range from 12 to 29 storeys creating up to 500 flats. The Viability Assessment (VA) was carried out on an assumption of 471, but 600 units are being considered. The cost is expected to be in the region of £135m. Curiously blocks B and C will have 261 and 168 flats but D and E only 27 and 15. This means the VA has different information to the Planning Application which clearly states the blocks will be 12 to 29 storeys.

Apparently each block will have a lift for 13 people and a separate one for the fire lift and will cost in the region of £0.5m.

The substructure plan to allow the tower blocks to be built will be a platform built over the tube lines needing significant piles to support the platform. The consultants reckon the costs have been under estimated, which is not surprising as this would be a very skilled job and I doubt the detailed planning for this has yet been done.  They comment about the cost that “ there is a risk it may be insufficient subject to confirmation of substructure design. A detailed design risk assessment is still to be finalised.” They did not have sufficient information to accurately check the pricing.

C&R have allowed 14 months to prepare the site for the development which will mean the children’s playground and Big Screen will be removed and a walkway tunnel built to protect the existing entrance to the Mall, much like the “tunnel” currently over the entrance to Liverpool Station.

The actual construction work will take 52 months so even if they started now it would not be finished until 2024 at the earliest. They have also allowed 4.5 years to sell all the flats!

Clearly we will have plenty of questions if and when they submit their application for full planning permission for the tower blocks.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Town Centre - the endless saga

A full critique of the scheme

Second Entrance for Walthamstow Central

Having looked back over some of my old papers about the redevelopment of Walthamstow the dreams are always years ahead of reality.

The Town Centre redevelopment, as featured in this week's WFN, is headlined "Underground station gets £15 million upgrade". Looking more closely "the funding has been granted on condition that the redevelopment of Walthamstow Mall goes ahead".

Although full planning permission to increase the retail by a third from 24,155 sqm to 32,155 sqm, only outline permission has been given to the 4 tower blocks. These will have to go through the normal planning process and it is unlikely full planning permission will be granted before the end of 2019.

So will Capital & Regional and Mount Anvil start the work before they have permission to build the real prize which is 460 flats at current prices of approximately £500k each, meaning they should collect 460 x  £500k =  £230m (2 bed in Walthamstow Gateway is £600k and Essex Brewery 3 bed flat is £800k.) ?

More importantly I noticed in today's paper Greggs financial position may not be that great as there are concerns that as we shop more on the internet we will be doing less shopping in real shops so therefore will not be out and about popping in to coffee shops. If this is the future what is the point of C&R creating at least 20 more (small supermarket sized shops 390sqm)? These will not come on stream for many years so who will be their tenants then?

Another major factor will be customer loyalty. With the noise and disruption caused by the Mall being a massive building site for many years how many shoppers will opt to go elsewhere - easily achieved by existing good transport links!!

More close analysis of the scheme coming here over the next few weeks!

Friday, 25 May 2018

St Mary's Walthamstow Village

Planning Application 180314

The Welcome Centre will have an extension added and converted to 11 flats. The two houses will be demolished and a 3 storey Community Centre with 3 flats above it will be created.

Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites

Dear resident neighbours,

Thank you very much for coming to the meeting at Lea Bridge Station this evening. We are a group of residents who have been in communication with the Council since last autumn when the "Lea Bridge Station Sites" ideas were first put out to the public. We have formed a group named "Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites" and the idea is that we wish to make improvements to the Council's plan for this area. We are just an informal grouping of people who are very concerned at the idea of a Lea Bridge Town Centre being built with the crossroads of Orient Way/ Lea Bridge Road and Argall Way being its nucleus. This email is being sent to seven people on a 'BCC' basis (email address anonymous to everyone except yourself and me).

At the moment we just have an email list of names of our group (currently about 50 people). It would be great if you would also like to join that list. Please just reply to this email and confirm.

We are looking at ways to have a better interactive communication (so that everyone in the group can see emails coming from members and comment on them if they wish). One of our members is looking at a web group page for us to do that.

We would also like to have face-to-face meetings, and one idea is to use the Kukoolala Cafe on Marsh Lane in Leyton Jubilee Park. They have an excellent meeting room there.

The points in green below are the latest update of our "Peoples Plan", as developed after our meeting with the Council last week:

  • the wider housing issues including:
    • the impact of housing targets on our small part of the borough.
    • the 'genuine affordability' and social housing ratios given the physical difficulties of the terrain and ecology issues, and the need to ensure that any developments enhance, and do not detract from, a sense of community.
    • the unsuitability of even higher towers for our neighbourhood (even higher than 97 Lea Bridge Road towers).
    • the unsuitability of site 3 (backing onto the railway/fronting onto Orient Way) as a living space and its blocking of the view westwards towards Lea Valley.
    • the need to redesign the proposed town houses backing onto Elm Park Road and access to them.
  • the need to retain publicly accessible open green space and the retention of 150 semi-mature trees of the Pocket Park designed less than 25 years ago by the Council as environmental compensation for the impact on our neighbourhood of the Orient Way Relief Road.
  • the re-examination of the Council's plans of 1989 for Orient Way to intersect with Lea Bridge Road by means of an underpass, thus solving the major problems of road safety for pedestrians and cyclists and relieving the new Lea Bridge Town Centre of heavy through-traffic. Coupled with re-directing traffic from the western direction of Lea Bridge Road we suspect the logic of this and the necessary funding might need to be considered by regional levels.
  • prior to going out to developers, the placing by the Council of its Design Brief for Lea Bridge Station Sites into a Design Panel of the Arts Council and CABE, the process and results of which would be shared with Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites.

Tonight's meeting at the station with Cllr Simon Miller, and officers Mark Adams and Ana Lopez will give rise to additional points. Importantly we need to ask for early sight of the Council's development brief before it goes out to developers and for it to have very clear specifications of what community benefits (via 'Section 106' funds) that developers will be expected to address.

If all this sounds very technical or complicated then I'm with you! However there are a few of our residents who have some professional background knowledge in architecture, environmental matters, community building, law and accountancy, and there are a few of us who have been round the block a couple of times and know something of how Councils work. Most of all we are local people committed to maintaining and developing our community.

Welcome to the Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites. Please take an early moment to reply to this email and confirm you wish to join the list.

I am holding the communication lines at the moment but we do need extra help.

Many thanks for your interest,

Claire Weiss
Resident E10 7AR

Dear Cllr Simon Miller

On behalf of Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites I would like to thank you, Mark Adams and Ana Lopez for agreeing to the on-site walkabout meeting that was held on Wednesday and for spending so much time with us. Many of the residents who attended had not heard about the Council's proposals for Lea Bridge Station Sites until they received our leaflet through their door letterbox. Some had heard, but not fully understood what the potential implications for our neighbourhood might be.

The timing of the meeting at 6-0pm was appreciated by those who were unable to meet previous weekday afternoon sessions held in the Town Hall, but there were still some who would have preferred a timing after 7-30pm, allowing them to get back from work or to settle children. Perhaps this could please be taken into account next time.

We hope that by spending some time in the environment of Lea Bridge station, with the towers and complex of 97 Lea Bridge Road looming above you and the roar of lorries on Argall Way behind you, that you were able to understand that the prospect of intensifying the residential saturation and massively concretising our small neighbourhood is just beyond most people's reasonable expectations of their role in helping the Council to provide housing for those in most need. 
  • For one thing, that is because the scale of the proposed development is over and above what the Council needs to do to to meet the London housing targets, according to a source we have found. 
  • For another thing, the features of the proposed development do not make for a balance in the communities, which is a part of the life of those who live at the western end of Lea Bridge Ward value greatly. 
  • Given that the intersection of Orient Way/ Lea Bridge Road and Argall Way and green space compensation were created by major public investment of twenty years ago - for the very reason of relieving the rest of Leyton from the heavy industrial through-traffic between the industrial estate and the national road network - we believe strongly that this aspect of the proposed development requires significant further design and investment to accommodate a Lea Bridge Town Centre.

I am rehearsing here some of the major points already put to you and discussed on Wednesday, but residents feel that we cannot emphasise them enough. It's beyond reasonable to expect that such a small area of Leyton, already densely populated, should absorb a massive and ongoing influx of ugly and uncharacteristic buildings where previously there was low-rise industrial and commercial land and publicly-provided green open space. That is why we have formed the Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites in order to communicate to you alternatives and improvements that will avoid our neighbourhood being altered beyond recognition. 

Residents have already had two years of their lives disrupted unreasonably by the noise, dirt, pollution and hazards caused by the construction of 97 Lea Bridge Road estate and this will take another year or more. If the Station Sites proposals go ahead in full then residents, including a whole primary school, will be subject to a further four or five years of such intrusion. Please ask yourself how it can be reasonable that, for instance, a child born here in 2016 will have their first ten years of life spent in close proximity to he pollution of major building sites, the outcomes of which will be significant reduction of quality of life through the loss of open sky space and being overlooked by many windows.

We will be sending you more detail of the improvements we recommend for the Station Sites proposals. It would be helpful, and we believe reasonable and transparent, if you would send us early sight of the Council's draft Development Brief please, prior to release to developers.

Thank you for the acknowledgement below of residents' other concerns voiced to you on Wednesday and your wilingness to convey them to other Council departments. We look forward to receiving the catalogue of issues we have raised about the Station Sites proposals and we note with approval that you intend to reach an agreed record of them with us, especially as you say this engagement with us has shaped your thinking.

Thanks to all three of you for the time spent on Wednesday and for your understanding that robust and forthright views were expressed. These proposed developments would have huge impact on a small neighbourhood.

Kind regards,

Claire Weiss