Saturday, 27 June 2009

Here we go again

Having been rejected by Hackney Council in 2007 and again by the Secretary of State, following a Planning Inspectorate enquiry, in 2008, the developers have resubmitted plans for the development of the former Lesney Matchbox Works on the River Lea Navigation Canal and Homerton Road. It consists of a 15 storey tower block and two other builds of 12 and 10 storeys.
The Planning Inspectorate report found nothing wrong with the design, bulk or height of the proposed build – rather he said that “In terms solely of design, this could be a development of which the Borough would be proud. ....and would be attractive to behold and would excite and delight.” The SoS’s rejection was because of the housing mix of the proposed development not the height and bulk of the tower blocks.
So why should FtH be interested to this development – which is not in our borough and miles away from the Arcade? The worrying thing is that Hackney Council refused planning permission on the grounds that a tower building would be inappropriate. Yet the Planning Inspectorate found in favour, and praised the design. Ironic since that the proposed tower is only ½ mile away from where the local council tower blocks were blown up 20 years ago – to be replaced by low rise housing.
The Lea Navigation Canal running towards the Limehouse Basin is overwhelmed by high rise, massive developments. They are eyes sores. But somehow, planners don’t get it. They have to meet the dwelling density targets and developers have to jack up their profits. The result is a design famine which is devastating in its effects on the neighbourhood and people sense of place.
And, of course, the Lesney development is a “landmark” project. Under that label, any design can be shoe horned in; no matter how inappropriate.
Even with a sympathetic Council, large tower block schemes are being approved. What’s clear is that the local and wider community has to make it voice heard if we’re to get something in Walthamstow that is not a planning and community disaster.

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Monday, 15 June 2009

Arcade temporary design set in stone

A council regeneration officer has finally clarified what is happening with the Arcade site's temporary use. The design has basically been decided on, and any public consultation will simply be about what uses the resulting triangle of blank space will be put to (see drawing below).

Here's what she had to say:

"Council Officers have investigated alternative surfaces for the Arcade site with the objective of enabling the maximum number of potential temporary uses on the site. As the site may only be in temporary use for 18 months to 2 years the Council is seeking to use the most economical materials and, where possible, those which can be re-used elsewhere once work begins on the long-term project. Soft landscaping would be very expensive if it were to be undertaken to the standard which Walthamstow Town Centre deserves and it would not enable the variety of interim uses the Council would like to offer the community. The existing town square and gardens are in close proximity to the site.

"The consultation with the public will be on uses for the site and not the design of the site. There will be planters on the site to add foilage and colour to the scheme. There could be a play facility on the site as it is possible to lay a temporary safety surface."

Hmm, we wonder if "public consultation" on the long-term use of the site will be just allow us to say what uses we think the £35m swimming pool should be put to...

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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Arcade planning application

It's a classic council move...

They have announced a public consultation on what the temporary use of the Arcade should be.

Pox pops in this week's WFM magazine all say it should be a park.

And yet the council has already filed a planning application to cover a big triangular section of the site with a hard surface, prior to consultation, but pretty much precluding any possibility of it being a park.

Not got time to see the planning application yourself? Click on the picture above to see for yourself. The good news is they're ruling out car parking. The triangle of land, with a couple of trees reinstated on Hoe Street near the bus stops, will back onto a 2.4m high hoarding that fences off the wasteground behind houses on Cleveland Park Avenue.

If you want to object, the application is number 2009/0669/LA and you can send objections to Development Management Group, LBWF, Sycamore House, Forest Road, London E17 4JF by 29 June 2009.

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