Saturday, 1 January 2011

N Millfields development: Support needed at WF Council mtg Tues 4th 7pm

Email from New Lammas Lands Defence Committee, Lea Valley Federation and Millfields Users Group below. Please do make it along if you can.  

Waltham Forest council is about to go ahead with tower blocks on Essex Wharf which will overshadow north Millfields and destroy its visual connection with the rest of the Lea Valley Park. We need people in the Waltham Forest council chamber on Tuesday evening to show the strength of opposition. Please come if you can. This is why ....


The New Lammas Lands Defence Committee, Lea Valley Federation and Millfields Users Group are calling URGENTLY for all environmentally concerned people (in Hackney and Waltham Forest particularly) to come and SUPPORT US at:

Waltham Forest TOWN HALL at 7.00pm on
TUESDAY 4th January at the Councils Planning Committee Meeting.

We need YOUR help to stop four massive and ugly tower blocks being built right on the riverbank of the Lea on Leyton Marshes at Essex Wharf (beside the Lea Bridge, at Leabridge Road, Clapton E5).

This is probably the worst threat to Leyton Marshes since the Leyton "Relief" Road over ten years ago. We need as many people as possible to come to the meeting and pack the Council Chamber out to show the strength of our objections to high-rise building - particularly when the site is on open land within the Lee Valley Regional Park beside the River Lea and our support for keeping the Leyton and Walthamstow Marshes as pleasant, green semi-rural open space for recreation and nature conservation.

We are NOT planning any form of demonstration on the Town Hall steps, but we DO want as many people as possible to turn up at 7.00pm to be in the Council Chamber at the start of the meeting at 7.30pm. As it is a very major development, the Essex and Eastwood Wharf application (by developers Sherrygreen, although they are using the names of subsidiaries) is the first item on the Agenda, so we will not be hanging around all night.

The Planning Committee (seven Councillors) will be asked to decide whether to grant Planning Permission for a development of FOUR MASSIVE HIGH-RISE RESIDENTIAL TOWER BLOCKS within the Lee Valley Regional Park. The Regional Park Authority is - unsurprisingly -
opposing the plan, as is the Borough of Hackney (whose Planning Committee unanimously voted to object).

Essex Wharf is surrounded by green open space - including an immediately adjacent waterfowl breeding area in an oxbow of the river - and it is very close to two Nature Reserves: Walthamstow Marshes and the Essex Filter Beds bird sanctuary. Across the river is the open parkland of Mill Fields. The site is entirely within and entirely surrounded by the Lee Valley Regional Park, which is
Metropolitan Open Land.

There is currently no residential housing whatsoever along the River Lea in the borough of Waltham Forest, and the site was until a few weeks ago in commercial use as a wharf on the River. There is no
housing anywhere else within Leyton Marshes. If allowed to go ahead, this development would lead to the complete loss of Leyton Marshes as an entity and would set a dangerous precedent for more high-rise high-density tower blocks all along Lea Bridge Road, starting with the Thames Water site between the Essex and Middlesex Filter Beds Nature Reserves to the south of Lea Bridge Road.

The Planning Application will be determined by just SEVEN Councillors, none of whom live in or represent Lea Bridge Ward. They probably do not know anything about the area, and it is unlikely any
of them have ever been onto the Marshes. The Boroughs Planning Control Officers are recommending that the proposal should be approved. We need the Councillors to vote AGAINST the
recommendation, and turn the application down.

Three members of the public - including the Chief Planning Officer of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority - will have 3 minutes each to state the objectors case. The Boroughs Planning Control Department and the Applicant will have as long as they like.

It is going to be very difficult to get the arguments against across in any detail. Therefore, our best hope of influencing the Councillors decision is to have as many supporters as possible in the
Council Chamber - the more people we can get, the more likely it is that we can get the recommendation overturned and permission refused.

Waltham Forest Town Hall is on Forest Road, Walthamstow, between Hoe Street and Wood Street. Only two bus routes go past it - the 123 and 275 - but it is a short walk from the Bell Corner which is served by about ten routes, including the 97, 69, 34, all of which serve Walthamstow Central Bus Station, beside the railway station (BR Liverpool Street to Chingford line and Victoria line tube).

Please do come along and show your opposition to this appalling scheme and the recommendation to accept it. Please let others know about it and ask them to come along as well. Please network this
message out to any groups you know who may be able to help - all that is needed is for as many people to come and sit in the Council Chamber while the application is debated and voted on.

We MUST show that we care about our green open spaces, and that we are opposed to high-rise high density building anywhere there is a space that developers think they can move in and make a fast buck.

Background on Essex Wharf and the Developer's Tactics

This area (historically Essex and Eastwood Wharf) was the site of an ancient ferry crossing, before Lea Bridge Road was built, and until 1994 was historically in the Borough of Hackney. It therefore appears in the Waltham Forest Unitary Development Plan as whitefield land, in other words there is no designated or proposed use for the site. The only legal document relating to it is that produced some
time ago by the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, which envisages a use for the site for river-based sport and recreational use.

There have been two previous applications for high-rise high density housing on this site, both of which have been rejected by Waltham Forests Planning Control Department under Delegated Powers. The first was the subject of an Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate by the would-be developers, and their Appeal was lost. a second Planning Application was also rejected by Waltham Forests Planning Control Department under Delegated Powers and is also the subject of an Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which we would fully expect also to be lost.

Unfortunately, this third Planning Application is now being brought to the Councils Planning Committee - and deliberately so before the Appeal on the second (refused) application can be heard.

The site is entirely within and surrounded by green open land in the Lee Valley Regional Park, a 20-mile long green wedge of open land stretching along the Lea Valley from the Thames to the open countryside of Essex and southern Hertfordshire. The Park was established in 1967, as a smaller version of a National Park, to safeguard the Lea Valley as green, open space in the same way as the
Green Belt was designated to control the urban sprawl of London into the surrounding countryside. To build any structure here which is not related to public recreation or wildlife conservation would be a travesty and would detract entirely from the purpose of the Lee Valley Regional Park.

1 comment :

  1. As much as I abhor this proposed Essex Wharf Development, and as much as have opposed it, it is with regret that I have to say that "showing strength of opposition" will do little good. I have attended Council Planning Committee Meetings, and have regrettably seen how they operate.

    With 3 members of the public given 3 minutes each to state their objections,against Planning Control Department/Applicant having as long as they like to state their case, it is difficult to see how to get the decision overturned - especially if there isn't the full compliment of 7 councillors in attendance for the vote. No matter how many supporters you have with you,on the night, there is little to be done to influence the outcome.

    We DO care, it is an appalling development scheme, Waltham Forest Council and Councillors should hang their heads in shame - but it looks like another done deal. MORE COMMENTS PLEASE as to what other action(s) may be taken.



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