HOW HIGH CAN WE ALLOW DEVELOPERS TO BUILD?

Focus has previously reported on the massive high rise flat developments in Waltham Forest.

Forest Ward Focus Team members were with residents at the Planning Committee when the Council agreed the over development of buildings, of up to 18 storeys, in Lea Bridge Road.

Only recently Leyton Focus Team member Bob Sullivan and residents spoke against the 16 storey block at the end of Dunedin Road.

It appears that developers are having a field day as the Council continually agree the building of unaffordable multi high rise flats in the borough.

The latest plan submitted by the owners of the Mall shopping centre in Walthamstow is to build four blocks including one of 27 storeys!  Currently local residents have presented a 2,000 plus petition to the Council in protest against the plans. If you would like to support the local residents then contact ‘Save Walthamstow Town Centre’ on line: SAVE OUR TOWN CENTRE

Focus says:  In our experience the Labour Council never listens to residents and carries on agreeing the over development of every bit of land for multi high rise unaffordable flats.

HALE END LIBRARY THREATENED WITH DESTRUCTION

Hale End Library threatened with demolition and more flats in its place

Issue number 133 of the Hale End and Highams Park ward FOCUS Newsletter leads with the news that Hale End Library is threatened with destruction by Waltham Forest’s Labour-controlled Council.

Local residents have been shocked to learn that the Council is planning to demolish Hale End library to use for housing.  The Council wants to make the library smaller by moving it to rented units from Tesco’s.

The Council’s usual response when they want to close a library is to say it is too large and is not well used by local people.  The same excuse was said when they closed the very popular Harrow Green Library in Leytonstone.  Residents are angry that their local library, the last civic building in Highams Park, is likely to be turned into a block of flats.  Residents are angry and have already set up a petition online.

Focus says:  Thousands was spent some years ago refurbishing Hale End library and to knock it down would be an act of vandalism.  If you agree with us please sign the petition. You can sign the residents’ online petition.

RESIDENTS’ PROTEST IGNORED

Residents outside the Town Hall protesting at the road closures introduced as part of the ‘Mini Holland’ scheme

The recent protest by over 1,200 residents against the road closures in Walthamstow and Leyton showed that the Council’s Mini Holland plans, including closing local roads, does not have the support of all residents despite the Council saying that they had.

Protesters not against the scheme or cyclists, but against road closures

The protesters went out of their way to say that they were not against the scheme or cyclists, but against the road closures. The Council’s plans have succeeded in causing division and anger across the Borough. The closing of roads has forced vehicles onto the already congested main roads like Lea Bridge, Hoe Street, and Leyton High Road and has resulted in a massive slow down of traffic, increased congestion and increased pollution.

Bob Sullivan addressing protesters outside the Town Hall

Congestion and pollution bad for all

All of this is detrimental to residents, cyclists, pedestrians and bus users. Focus Team member Bob Sullivan, who was in the Town Hall listening to the Mini Holland debate, was appalled by the Labour Council restricting residents from hearing the debate, as they only allowed 12 protesters in, although the chamber can hold over a hundred. He was shocked by the arrogant, illiberal attitude with which Labour Councillors treated residents’ concerns. They were not prepared to review the Mini Holland plans despite residents’ requests and their own Labour MP’s request.

Council continues to ignore residents

They are, in fact, going to ignore residents and continue to put in similar divisive plans across Leyton, Leytonstone and Chingford!

PADDY POWER WINS APPEAL!

Paddy Power appeal victory paves way for sixth bookies in high street despite public outcry

7:00am Thursday 23rd April 2015 – Waltham Forest E-Guardian

Paddy Power has won the right to open a sixth betting shop in a high street despite public opposition.

The company was successful in appealing against a decision by Waltham Forest council’s planning committee to deny a change of use at 620 High Road, Leytonstone.

Paddy Power was granted a premises licence in October despite more than 1,200 people signing a petition against the move.

Yesterday, a planning inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities, ruled in the betting giants favour in a move a council spokesman described as “another example of an inspector not supporting local concerns regarding the clustering of betting shops.”

The betting shop will operate under the condition that it will not be open to customers after 10pm on any day of the week and CCTV is installed to deter criminal activity.

The inspector approved the application despite it adding an ‘obvious’ third betting shop to the immediate vicinity.

Following the closure of Leytonstone police station, the inspector also heard local concerns that the police presence in the area had been reduced, but said “The Metropolitan Police’s crime prevention officer did not raise this as a concern when consulted.”

The inspector continued:

I do not consider that an additional betting office within the immediate area would result in a significant alteration to the balance [of being a retail-led high street], or result in a clustering effect that would be detrimental to the retail attraction of the immediate area or wider centre.

The appellant operates a chain of betting offices, and although the use would not make a large contribution to local regeneration or have a significantly positive effect in tackling social deprivation, its corporate responsibility policies are clear and links with the local community are encouraged.

The FOCUS Team says:

Local people will be wondering what is the point of the Council spending time and resources securing changes to planning regulations, if they are going to be over-ruled by inspectors who choose to ignore local opinion.

LOCAL TUBE STATION TICKET OFFICE CLOSURES TO BEGIN

Leyton Station Ticket Office first for the chop!

Waltham Forest E-Guardian 8:01am Friday 27th March 2015

Ticket offices at Tube stations across Waltham Forest will begin to close in the coming weeks.

The office at Leyton Station, scheduled to close in April, will be the first to go, followed by Blackhorse Road, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Central.

Closure works take around a month, except Walthamstow Central which could take up to three.

Labour London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold has condemned the move, claiming the move will leave passengers with less staff support.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s plan to close all the capital’s tube ticket offices will cost taxpayers almost £134million, Ms Arnold said.

She described the cost as “staggering”.

The £134million will fund additional ticket machines in 27 London stations, four new customer receptions and the conversion of 181 ticket offices for other uses.

Jennette Arnold said:

This argument isn’t about whether staff are based in ticket offices or not.

It is about whether there are enough staff in stations to provide the good service people in Waltham Forest have come to expect, particularly the elderly and disabled who often rely more on station staff for assistance.

The closures in Waltham Forest are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

 

‘MY YOUTH BUS’ FACING FUNDING AXE

Bus ‘keeping kids off streets’ facing funding axe

Waltham Forest E-Guardian – 12:05pm Thursday 26th March 2015

A bus which visits deprived estates to help children learn, play and relax could be taken off the road due to council cuts.

The My Youth Bus is kitted out with game stations, cooking facilities and a sound system and used by dozens of young people every night.

The My Youth Bus project, run by charity Worth Unlimited, has been operating in Walthamstow, Leytonstone and Chingford since December 2007.

Funding of £33,000 is provided through the council’s Youth Activities Fund.

However, the cash is due to be cut from September this year.

Amber Bowden, 11, and Alex Brown, 14, from Buxton School in Leytonstone, raised the issue with Mayor of Waltham Forest Terry Wheeler.

They use the bus on the Cathall Estate in Leytonstone, an area well known for crime and deprivation.

Alex said:

This bus means a lot to both of us.

It is like a family on here. It is amazing and it means the world to us to be able to come here every week.

They are taking away money because they don’t actually understand what it is like for kids growing up – they think it is just a bus for a small group of kids and they are wrong.

There is always someone you can talk to on this bus – adults we know and trust.

Amber Bowden added:

We wouldn’t be allowed out if the bus wasn’t here.

The bus is as important to our parents as it is us because it gets us out.

The youth workers who come every week are amazing. There is nothing else like this around here.

Thomas Fether, 15, and Jahmal Burgess, 13, have been using the bus since it started operating.

Jahmal said:

This is something we really enjoy.

It is the only thing for us to do, we need that money.

Makiya Jacobs, 13, said:

It is fun so we keep coming.

When we come here we can have our own space – we always have fun.

It keeps kids off the streets. If I wasn’t here I would just stay indoors on my own.

Carl Clarke has been a youth worker on the bus for 20 months said:

The most important thing for us is that they have somewhere to go that isn’t the street, where they can get an education outside of the classroom,

We don’t want children on the streets or spending all their time at home on the internet.

It is about getting these kids to get the best out of themselves and some just don’t do that in traditional settings.

The bus is another opportunity for them to learn and excel.

Worth Unlimited said it would like to hear from any businesses interested in sponsoring the bus.

The council has been approached for comment.

POOL AND TRACK PLANS VOTED THROUGH DESPITE STRONG OPPOSITION

Controversial sports centre plan approved over loss of funding fear

8:18am Wednesday 11th March 2015 – Waltham Forest E Guardian

Plans for new £23million sports facilities in Walthamstow were controversially approved last night after thousands called for further public consultation.

Campaigners packed into council chamber last night heard as the planning committee heard impassioned speeches pleading for further dialogue over plans for the Pool and Track site in Chingford Road.

The proposal from council contractor Greenwich Leisure Limited would see the loss of a 5m diving board, a dedicated diving pool and other facilities for athletes, prompting a campaign backed by coaches, parents and young people.

Veteran diver Jonathon Fox, who travels to the borough from Stansted every week, said the plans have been put forward on a “like it or lump it” basis.

Many of us hoped this council would enter into a meaningful dialogue with the users of the Pool and Track,” he said.

Instead, it’s like going into a restaurant, being given a menu and being told you will have something completely different.

Diver and coach Michael Allen questioned the council’s commitment to the Olympic legacy.
He said:

Last year, I had to console young divers who have had to give up the sport because of lack of transport and additional costs for their parents.

I find it amazing that anybody could argue this is not a loss of amenity.

Mr Allen told the committee a lack of a dedicated diving area would mean swimmers and divers could not train at the same time, which would restrict hours.

Manager of the Waltham Forest Disability Resource Centre, Peri Stanley, said no disability groups were contacted over the project and said the plans undermined access.

She said:

Sport England says portable steps can be used, but this isn’t an existing pool, it is a brand new development and I can see no reason for such a makeshift compromise.

People have to wait and ask for steps is an unnecessary barrier to inclusion.

At the very least disabled users should have been consulted.

Head coach of the Orion Harriers Juniors athletics team, Jane Farrier, who carried the Olympic torch into the borough, said athletes would lose a “vital” stretch room under the plans.

She said:

For months council officers claimed no such stretch room existed. We have pictures of it being used by (Olympic gold medallist) Sally Gunnell.

I urge this committee to reject these plans so that proper and full consultation and designs can be accommodated.

Alistair Gibb, a BMX enthusiast, spoke in favour of the plans.

Chris Simons from Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) told the committee an extra 400,000 people are expected to use the new facility, but drew criticism when he dismissed the 5m diving board as ‘unnecessary’ when a 3m board would be in place.

He said:

This is about creating a five star facility for an affordable price.

We are trying to make this the best facility in London.

I don’t believe the 5m board is an issue.

Having had a 5m diving platform previously hasn’t actually produced any 5m divers at competition standard.

Chapel End ward councillor Steve Terry said it is with a “heavy heart” that he and his colleagues approved the plans, through fear of losing funding.

The plans were voted through by three to one.

Chingford councillor Alan Siggers ensured conditions were imposed to give the Harriers use of a room for stretching and ensure the re-location of toilets to eliminate safeguarding concerns.

POOL AND TRACK PLANNING FARCE!

Re-submitted Pool & Track plan ‘would be missed opportunity’

12:33pm Wednesday 4th March 2015 – Waltham Forest E-Guardian

Re-submitted plans for a multi-million pound investment in new sporting facilities will be a ‘wasted’ opportunity, according to campaigners.

Athletes, parents, children, teachers and councillors gathered last night to urge the council to reconsider a proposal for Walthamstow Pool and Track.

The authority and contractors Greenwich Leisure Limited were criticised for deciding not to replace a 5m diving board as part of the £25million scheme in Chingford Road.

In September plans to knock down the existing building and replace it were rejected by the council’s planning committee due to loss of amenity as the diving board, which is said to be vital for training youngsters, would be replaced by a spa and an ‘extreme sports’ arena.

But an application for the same proposal has been made, with the diving board not included.

Campaigners and other clubs say young athletes will also be disadvantaged if the proposal is approved.

A petition calling for further public consultation has been signed by 2,500 people.

Speaking at the Pool & Track last night, Orion Harriers club manager, Jane Farrier, said the planned facility would kill athletics.

A ‘well-used’ strength and conditioning room will be taken away under the new plans.

We were not consulted from day one

They are not integrating this track with the new centre and there are a number of big concerns with the new proposals.

For a start we will now have a safeguarding issue with children having to go right out of our sight to use the toilets and changing rooms.

There will be no track-side first aid.

We have no trust in them whatsoever. 

We do not dispute the centre needed to be developed,  but the emphasis has been placed on making money not improving what we already have.

We have 400 junior and 350 senior members. None of them were asked. 

Is consultation asking people what they want or telling them what they are getting?

Lesley Pearce, the teacher in charge of PE at Parkside School in Chingford, said

There is a desperate need for a large sporting venue for pupils to use.

If the council had consulted primary schools they would know we spend a huge amount of money transporting children to facilities in other boroughs.

With this amount of money they are spending – they have the chance build a major sporting hub and meet the needs of thousands of children. 

These plans are not suitable.

Walthamstow resident Amanda Connolly criticised the lack of consultation.

There is no transparency in this project. It should be about investing in the future.

Nobody has a problem with development or enterprise, but we haven’t even been asked what we need.

Green Party candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, Rebecca Tully, said the council should not expect children to travel to other boroughs for facilities.

There are children having to travel to outside boroughs and are getting home at ten o’clock on a school night. That is not what we want.

Many members of the community in Waltham Forest feel as though they have been ignored.

Jack Byrne, 11, is a member of the diving club. He said:

It’s not just about divers, it’s about swimmers too. 

With these plans we can’t use the pool at the same time.

Before I learned to dive I would try the 5m board and it was such a thrill.

I just wanted to do more. If they take it away other children won’t get to experience that.

We don’t need a spa here.

A dedicated planning meeting will be held at Walthamstow Town Hall on Tuesday (March 10).

GLL has not responded to repeated requests for interview from The Guardian.

Please sign the on-line petition below.

View the petition here

‘MINI-HOLLAND’ CYCLE SCHEME GOES TO CABINET ON 10 FEBRUARY

Mini-Holland cycling scheme in the Walthamstow Village area will go to Cabinet next week

First published Thursday 5 February 2015 in Waltham Forest E Guardian
Last updated 13:33 Thursday 5 February

 
The final plans for a controversial multi-million pound ‘mini-Holland’ cycling scheme have been revealed, ahead of cabinet decision next week.

Last year the community was at loggerheads during a trial run of a proposal to improve road safety in the Walthamstow Village area.

The original plans included a stretch of Orford Road being blocked-off to vehicles, while others converted from two-way to one-way and vice versa. Supporters claimed it was necessary to improve safety, while some businesses and residents claimed it would hit trade, cause congestion in nearby roads and had not been properly consulted on.

Further council consultation followed, with more than 1,200 people responding.

A report, which will be considered by the cabinet on February 10, outlines the trial results.

Council surveys showed rat runs were quickly created by the road changes, with drivers finding alternative routes to avoid queues.

Traffic in Beulah Road increased by 158 per cent and 127 per cent in Eden Road during the trial in September and October.

Increases were also experienced in Livingstone Road, Clarendon Road, Granville Road, Fraser Road and Merton Road.

But, the report states there was a decrease in overall traffic from 25,000 to 20,000 vehicles per day in the area.

On average, traffic speed reduced from 22.3mph to 21mph during the trial.

Changes made following public consultation include a no entry sign at Wingfield Road and closures to two stretches of Eden Road.

Beulah Road would also be made one-way northbound, from Grosvenor Rise East to Addison Road.

Copeland Road will be closed at the junction with Lea Bridge Road.

The closure on Grove Road has been moved to a position outside the Registry Office to allow better access to businesses.

Waltham Forest council was one of only three London councils to win the £30m funding from Transport for London and the Mayor’s Office for the scheme.

The final plans

– Orford Road will be closed to vehicles between Wingfield Road and Eden Road (except buses)

– Close Eden Road junction with Orford Road

– Close Eden Road just south of its junction with Grosvenor Rise East

– Close Grosvenor Rise East, east of Eden Road

– No entry to southbound vehicles on Wingfield Road south of Arden Mews

– Second Avenue – one-way westbound and Third Avenue – one-way eastbound

– Close East Avenue and West Avenue bridges at the junction with St Mary’s Road

– Introduction of a right turn ban from Shernhall Street into Church Lane between 8am to 9:30am

– Introduction of further traffic calming on Vestry Road and improvements to its junction with East Avenue

Changes to traffic direction

– Orford Road – one-way eastbound between Wingfield Road and Eden Road

– Beulah Road – one-way northbound between Grosvenor Rise East and Addison Road and two-way between Addison Road and Orford Road

– Addison Road – two-way between Comely Bank Road and Beulah Road

– Eden Road – two-way for its entire length

– Grosvenor Rise East – two-way between Eden Road and Beulah Road

The cabinet will discuss the findings at Walthamstow Town Hall on February 10 at 2pm.

FAMILIES CHEATED OUT OF THEIR HOMES

Fred Wigg and Joihn Walsh Towers, Montague Road

In November a packed meeting of tenants voted for the option of refurbishment of kitchens and bathrooms for John Walsh and Fred Wigg tower blocks in Leytonstone. 
Tenants Ignored
However, the Labour Council over-ruled the tenants, agreeing a plan to strip back the towers to the core, completely refurbish the flats and build a smaller block between them.
Labour Selling Off Flats
Brand new flats for the tenants?  No! The Council wants to sell off one of the blocks to the private sector, thus reducing the number of Council flats from 232 to 160!  Waltham Forest has thousands of families on the waiting list, so a further reduction of affordable homes will dash the hopes of many people.  In effect Labour is getting rid of tenants who are, in the main, less well-off and inviting wealthy people to buy up the flats.
Labour MP and councillors ignore cries for help
The residents have asked their Labour MP and Labour councillors for help but they stay quiet.  They have even been ignored by one of their Labour councillors who was once a tenant in one of the blocks!

Focus says:

The Council has said tenants can go back once the refurbishment is complete.  This is rubbish as there will not be enough flats to house all of them!  One of the tenants has said “The Council is treating us worse than something stuck on their shoe”.

Focus will keep you informed of the tenants’ campaign to save their homes.