Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Town Centre Decision

The Mayor wants the scheme to proceed

Capital and Regional's awful scheme for the Town Centre shopping Mall has been given the go ahead by Mayor Sadiq Khan. Despite a vast number of objections, many policies ignored and an already congested Town Centre, Bus Station and Victoria line the Mayor has agreed the scheme as presented can proceed with one change. He has forced C&R to increase the affordable housing by 10% which won't even be in the Town Centre. £7.3m has to be given to the council to build social housing elsewhere. No additional money has been found for TfL so the link to the station is in doubt.

The |Leader of LBWF Cllr Clare Coghill says of the decision: The Mayor’s decision to approve the redevelopment of the Mall in Walthamstow will radically improve the town centre, replacing the existing town square and shopping centre which is tired, underused and not good enough for our residents.

“A new and expanded Mall will give a significant boost to the area, including creating 350 new permanent jobs as well as giving our residents the opportunity to shop in the borough rather than going further afield, which has a detrimental effect on our local economy.”
The cost to residents of this decision will be years of protest, the full planning application for the 4 tower blocks has yet to come, the loss of 81 mature trees and the reduction of the town square by 32%. 
To fund this C&R will have to increase the height of the tower blocks to at least 40 storeys which will increase the number of flats created thereby making the congestion even worse.
Shoppers will have a miserable few years trying to access the Mall while the construction companies try and build 4 enormous tower blocks over the existing shops. The noise, pollution and general inconvenience will force shoppers to go elsewhere.
There is no new transport infrastructure to support all the new developments that are currently being constructed around St James Street Station, Walthamstow Central and Blackhorse Road Station.
The protests will continue so come along to the Town Square on Saturday 24th March at 2pm and help protect our precious trees.

From David Gardiner
Yesterday (20th March) Sadiq Khan betrayed the people of Walthamstow by granting Second Stage (i.e. final) approval to Capital and Regional's plans to 'redevelop' our town square.

The Mayor claims that he has listened to local people. Like the almost 3,000 of them who signed a petition or wrote individual letters objecting to the proposals before the Planning Meeting in December? Like the 10 (out of a total of 12) who presented such well-reasoned objections in their ten-minute speeches at that meeting? How about the votes of ALL the local Constituency Labour Party branches? I think Mr Khan may be suffering from a little selective deafness.

When I emailed him requesting a 30-minute meeting with representatives of the Save Our Square E17 group, which has several hundred local members, the reply I received, not from the Mayor but from Graham Clements, his Principal Strategic Planner, was that: 'given the constraints of his statutory decision-making timescale ... and the pressures of his pre-existing diary commitments, the Mayor is unable to accept'. A busy man indeed. 

But he did find time to listen to developers Capital and Regional, who would like to take over a third of the last bit of open space in central Walthamstow for their private commercial activities, move the children's playground next to the diesel fumes of the bus station and chop down 81 beautiful mature trees to make way for all that additional concrete. Not forgetting four outlandish blocks of luxury flats that nobody on even twice the average annual income will be able to afford. 

Does Walthamstow need more shops? I don't think so. Does it need luxury flats for people that have nothing whatever to do with our community? I think not.

The actual effect of this kind of development as everyone knows is to raise rents generally in the area and force a lot more of the traditional residents who have lived here for generations out to wherever they can afford to put a roof over their heads. We can now apply for the title 'Borough of Evictions' as well as 'Borough of Culture (if you don't count the closure of the libraries and a few other things)'. 

This is a deliberate policy. It goes by names like 'gentrification' and 'ethnic cleansing'. London is intended for the wealthy and trendy, not for the likes of us. This is Tory Party policy enthusiastically embraced by our manipulative and dishonest Blairite Council. If we vote them in again in May we are simply fools.

What we are witnessing is an exact parallel to the highland clearances of the 18th and 19th centuries in Scotland. The presence of poorer people does not suit those with the power and the money in London today. The entire city is being systematically made unavailable to the working class communities that have lived here for generations. All of London, inner and outer, is to be given over to the rich. What we are witnessing is the beginning of the London Clearances. That's how history will quite rightly regard it. And to the eternal shame of our Labour controlled GLA and Council's they are totally complicit in the process. 

from David Gardiner
Secretary, Save Our Square E17


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