Saturday, 17 February 2018

Lea Bridge Station Plans

Lea Bridge

Pocket Park

Lea Bridge Station Sites is at a design consultation stage. It comprises three odd and scattered plots of land around the recently-re-opened Lea Bridge station (Network Rail) that belong to the Council. The Council wants to turn these disparate plots, together with the adjacent already under-construction tower block estate of 97 Lea Bridge Road, into a "Lea Bridge Town Centre". This town centre would have as its focus the lethal crossroads of Lea Bridge Road with Orient Way/ Argall Way these latter built specifically in the 1990s to carry heavy industrial traffic from the industrial estates and north London to and from the A12 and M11. These fast-traffic roads have no public transport or residential development because of their industrial/commercial nature hitherto.

The current proposals combined with 97 LB Road estate would result in five tower blocks squeezed into a restricted space and the destruction of our Pocket Park and 91 trees, all producing disastrous environmental and social results on the existing community of two-storey Victorian/ Edwardian housing of west Leyton. Such results include increased flood risk, excess pressure on already poor drainage and sewage, increased pollution, wind tunnel effect, insurmountable pressure on LB Road bus routes and public facilities etc.

Our group (Peoples Plan) has offered to the Council that we should work with them to improve these designs while they are at this stage, as yet still belonging to the Council. The Council agreed to this at the recent Lea Bridge Community Ward Forum. Their timescale stretches to summer 2019. During this period they intend to come up with a revised design for the Station Sites on the basis of the consultation results just ending now and, we intend, on the basis of our working with them, that there will be changes especially regarding the height of the towers and the retention of the Pocket Park. We are also highly concerned that there is no intention by the Council to build social housing on these plots of Council land, and that the high cost of deep piling through the Lea Valley river silt will prevent the so-called 'affordable' housing percentage to be achieved (because of financial viability). We will shortly be asking the Regeneration officer for an initial meeting. The resulting revised design would then be put out to developers who would be invited to put in planning applications in 2019.

So this is at quite a different stage from the Walthamstow Town Centre project, where the Planning Committee has already made a decision. We hope the Council just might have learned a little from its Walthamstow debacle. But who knows.

And the western end of Lea Bridge Road generally is under huge development threats. In answer to the Council's Call for Sites (re Local Plan), the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority (LVRPA) have offered up for residential development consideration the Waterworks Nature Reserve Visitor Centre land (opposite the old Greyhound pub) and/or the Ice Centre car park adjacent to Essex Wharf flats on the River Lea. They are doing this because they want to lease the land for the sole purpose of making money. At the same time the Education Funding Agency is preparing to put in a planning application for two academy schools to be built at 150 Lea Bridge Rd (the former Thames Water site). All of these mentioned three sites are Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) status and so should not be enclosed or built on - the Council would have to get the land re-designated in order to allow development.

As you can see, the prospect is of the Lea Bridge Road west of the station becoming a built-up area. There is some liaison with Hackney residents about all this.

Sorry for the long detail, but hope that this gives an idea of the context we are in over here in the south-west of the borough.


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