Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Lea Bridge Station Sites

Further info from Claire Weiss

Subject: Lea Bridge Station Sites
Dear Claire

Thank you for your email outlining your thoughts on proposals for the Lea Bridge Station Sites, on behalf of the Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites. I would also like to thank you and other members of the community for the constructive approach for engaging with the Council on development proposals for these sites and for taking time to meet us back in March.

Apologies for the delay in responding to your email. This was a result of being on annual leave for a number of weeks and also needing to coordinate a response from different team member to some of the points you raised.

We have outlined below the Council’s response to each of the issues brought up in your email dated 30th March 2018 –we hope this provides clarity over some of the issues, and we look forward to discussing this further with you on Friday.

There are clearly lessons to be taken from the approach to engagement as well as the wider planning process around the 97 Lea Bridge Road site.  As said at the meeting, the Council is committed to regular community engagement and to fully and clearly respond to comments, ideas and proposals that are made; our meetings with your group and this email are part of that.

The Lea Bridge Station Sites

The Council is in the early stages of developing proposals for these sites. The purpose of this early engagement is to understand local residents’ and businesses’ views about the proposals and use this to inform the development brief, where possible. A full report of the consultation exercise, which consolidates feedback from all the events and meetings, has been drafted and will be circulated soon.

The next stage will be to start the procurement process for a development partner, which takes around 9 months. We’re planning to issue the tender documents for the sites, including a revised Development Brief, this summer and we would expect Cabinet to select a partner next spring. Cabinet is also due to be considering a report in June on the Station Change process to create a new station entrance process for Site 1.

Once a Development Partner is appointed design proposals will be further developed and the local community will be consulted again at this point. At present, we would anticipate submitting an application for planning during the latter part of 2019.

Turning to some of the specific issues and proposals you’ve raised (set out in italics):

Publically accessible open space/ Pocket Park:

The proposals are to develop the three parcels of land off the junction of Lea Bridge Road, Argall Way, and Orient Way, and this includes the ‘Pocket Park’ on the south eastern section of this junction. The development is to provide much needed housing and commercial and cultural uses in the borough, on land that is within the control and ownership of the Council.

The development also aims to improve placemaking at this important location, next to the recently re-opened Lea Bridge Station. This will also coincide with improvements to the junction as part of the Mini Holland/Enjoy Waltham Forest works.

The Council understands that there are members of the community that do not support development on the Site 2 for a number of reasons, including impact on air quality, biodiversity and flood risk. Since the initial public engagement exercise, the Council have commissioned a number of surveys, including an Arboricultural Survey, Stage 1 Ecological Assessment, and Flood Risk Assessment. This is to enable greater understanding of the risks, seek recommendations for any mitigations and to inform the development brief. We will be happy to share the contents of these with you in due course.

Your specific suggestion to extend the Pocket Park into the left-filter lane to maintain green space has been considered.  The Council has not included this as a specific suggestion in the development brief as we are asking developers to submit their own solutions as part of their application.  However, the Council has included a very clear requirement for the developer to include publically accessible green space (this will of course need to take account of security and access issues) in the development, particularly on Site 2 where the current Pocket Park is located.

As previously mentioned, the development brief also includes a number of key requirements on environmental sustainability; such as low carbon design and construction, rainwater attenuation, green infrastructure (such as green walls, green roofs, street level planting and landscaping, and food growing spaces). 

Divert Orient Way as an underpass to reduce congestion and noise:

The redesign of the Lea Bridge Road/Orient Way/Argall Avenue junction will provide improved pedestrian and cycle facilities, whilst simplifying the junction layout for vehicular traffic within the funding available. The construction of an underpass would have required a considerable land take and would not be a cost effective solution.  The depth of an underpass and proximity to water sources would also have required pumping.

Re-routing away from Lea Bridge Road (the through-traffic travelling between Hackney/north London and the A12) in order to reduce the usage of the eastbound right-hand turn into Orient Way:

We would agree that strategic directional signage plays an important part in the overall management of the Highway Network. As part of the Council’s works on Lea Bridge Road, strategic signage will be reviewed and updated to ensure it is appropriate. Signage from Hackney will also be reviewed and any necessary changes and recommendations will be reported to Hackney Council and Transport for London. As you know, the Mini Holland/Enjoy Waltham Forest works are designed to make the junction better for cyclists and pedestrians and our intention is the redevelopment of these three sites will add further to this.

Height of towers

To meet challenging housing targets, in our case more than 1800 new homes per year for the next 20 years, local authorities need to consider certain sites for higher density development. Due to the proximity of these sites to a well-connected transport node, it is expected that these sites will need to deliver high density housing.

However, the Council understands that there is opposition to taller buildings in this area and a request for an explanation of why the tower on Site 1 has to be taller than the tallest tower at 97 Lea Bridge Road. Therefore the Council are in the process of assessing the viability of the scheme with reduced tower heights of 17 storeys or fewer and assessing the impact on housing provision. The Council will be stressing the requirement for high quality and exemplar design.

Tall buildings can contribute to a sense of place, and a strong emphasis on high quality design is included in the development brief.  Furthermore, the development brief requires the developer to consider microclimate impacts from any development proposals, including overshadowing, wind tunnel affects and impacts on air pollution.

It’s also important to remember that the Mayor of London has significant planning powers in relation developments of this size and height, and will play a significant role in whatever scheme is finally approved.

Waterworks Nature Reserve Visitor Centre

Thank you for your comments on the Waterworks Visitors Centre. As you know, it is currently on the Council’s register of Assets of Community Value and, although this is currently out of scope for these development sites, there is perhaps a potential opportunity for some meanwhile uses at the Centre which we will explore with the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority.

We will also be considering your suggestions for youth services/ community provision on the three Lea Bridge Station Sites.  

Social housing provision

Of Waltham Forest’s annual target of more than 1800 new homes per year, around 1200 of those need to be affordable and the Council are totally committed to providing actually affordable housing on these sites. The latest viability assessment indicates that a proportion of social rented homes on these sites would be viable for the scheme, and therefore we plan to include this as a requirement for any potential development partner. The viability will be reviewed at different stages of the scheme’s development, and off site provision may also assist in some circumstances in increasing the amount of affordable homes.

The Council is also committed to enabling a wider choice of genuinely affordable housing, as reflected in our 2017 Direction of Travel Document and our support for the Mayor’s Housing Strategy Policy 5.3A supporting community led housing schemes. The Council considers that part of Site 2 could be considered for such a community led housing scheme and as such there is a requirement that a component of any affordable housing offer from prospective partners, whether rented or intermediate tenure homes, are offered through a community led scheme, for example, a community land trust.

Live/work spaces

The development brief will include a requirement for potential development partners to consider what non-residential uses can be brought on to the site and for them to engage with potential providers and occupiers as part of the design process. Any potential development partner will be expected to consider the needs of the local economy, the Council’s Economic Development Strategy and Waltham Forest’s role as the first London Borough of Culture, and how these sites relate to this.

Encroachment on MOL

Again, this is out of scope for the development of these sites; however, this issue can be raised as part of the Local Plan Review process. The Council will be responding in due course to the Lea Valley Regional Park Authority’s proposal for the Waterworks Visitors Centre site and part of the current Ice centre car park to be designated for housing. You can find out more information on the Council’s website: https://walthamforest.gov.uk/content/local-plan

Further dates for meeting:

We would be happy to meet again with you and other members of the People’s Plan for Lea Bridge to discuss these issues in person. As you know we now have a meeting confirmed for this Friday 18 May and a follow-up site visit on Wednesday 23 May. We look forward to seeing you then.

Kind regards,

Mark Adams and Ana Lopez
Strategic Regeneration Team
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Dear Cllr Simon Miller

We at Peoples Plan for Lea Bridge Station Sites (PPLBSS) are unimpressed, to say the least, at an unwelcome change in the tone and approach to the very serious matters, that affect our daily lives in Lea Bridge, now displayed in Ana Lopez' response below. This is in the face of our genuine attempts to work with the Council and offer constructive suggestions. Let me remind you of the 2017/18 timeline so far:

October 2017: Lea Bridge Ward Community Forum - the then Head of Planning admitted to there being hard lessons learned over the planning issues connected with 97 Lea Bridge Road
January 2018: Lea Bridge Ward Community Forum - this was reiterated by residents in the light of the December resident engagement exercise re Lea Bridge Station Sites

23rd March: you met with PPLBSS at the Town Hall and at first, to our amazement, you were unaware of the above CWF matters and had to be briefed by the officers. It was clear to us that while there may have been glib words spoken at our Community Ward Forums there had been no proper evaluation of the identified shortcomings in the borough planning regime. In the meantime senior officers had come and gone.

30th March: I wrote to you (see email in thread below) asking for your considered observations on all of this.

1st April: you emailed me as follows (the emboldening is mine):
"Dear Claire,
Thank  you for this and thank you also for the constructive approach for engaging with the Council on our ambitions for Lea Bridge and the three station sites. There is a lot in your email, so my personal thanks to you and your neighbours for the time it has taken to draw this together.
There are clearly lessons to be taken from the approach to engagement as well as the wider planning process around the 97 Lea Bridge Roadsite. As a Council we need to consider how  we provide the necessary comfort that lessons have been learned.
More generally, the point suggestions you raise in relation to the three station sites will all be considered and Mark and the team will look to find a time to discuss the ideas in more detail. We may also include a number of  counter proposals which we consider to deliver the equivalent outcomes in those discussions.
With best wishes
Since then the words and deeds from the officers have simply not been in keeping with your assurances. We have not received any notes of the 23rd March meeting and it took until 19th April for the officers to follow up and say that they were discussing the matters and would be finding a date for the next meeting with PPLBSS. THREE WEEKS later on 8th May I sent a friendly reminder enquiry to the officers.

On 9th May, while it was somewhat encouraging to receive from the officers the options of six possible dates, the suggestion of only one hour was disappointing. After consulting with residents I replied on 11th May to say we felt that one hour was not enough and we requested two meetings, one at the Town Hall and one on site. 

We now hear that tomorrow's date is withdrawn and we are offered a changed time for Friday, together with a refusal to devote more than one hour. This does not accord with your earlier words that the team would find time to discuss our ideas "in more detail". We are still waiting to experience "the necessary comfort that lessons have been learned". Furthermore the response from Highways promised by the officer below has not arrived.

A meeting on site, without a prior roundtable session looking at your team's responses, would be pointless. We therefore suggest that the meeting on Friday 2-30pm is at the Town Hall, but with the proviso that there will be an on site session to follow it - we suggest Wednesday 23rd May at 5-0pm, meeting at Lea Bridge station.

I look forward to the early settlement of these dates in order that all the important matters raised may be discussed cordially.

As a last point, and as a matter of transparency, we would also like to know what meetings about developments in Lea Bridge area have been held in 2017/ 2018 or are being scheduled by you or officers with Mark Greaves and/or representatives of Capital & Country Holdings Ltd.

Thank you for your kind attention,


Claire Weiss

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