Thursday, 16 December 2010

'Tis the Season of much Folly

In some ways it was appropriate that Solum should have arranged for such cold and miserable weather for the evening of their Presentation. No amount of showy IT could mask the fact that the Tower they are planning for the Station car park will be enormous, and ugly, there is no way anyone will want to stay in their hotel, and the 'Night-Economy' will be improved not one jot. Unfortunately, if it looks like it, sounds like it and smells like it, then it is.

However, perhaps even more depressing than the weather, and the Solum Plans, [plans allegedly hewn by a gang of rabid foxes gnawing on a left-over ransid ham] is the fact that our inglorious representatives on the council appear to be so hungry that they will gratefully accept this landfill, and worse still put a bit of pickle on the side, and try to tell us its actually quite tasty.

Go on have a mouthful, look we're eating it, ooooh its lovely, mmmm so tasty.

Read More......

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Cheap Hotel for Lea Valley

Flying in the face of the reason they were set up Lee Valley Regional Park Authority are trying to get a 'Cheap Hotel' built in front of the Ice Rink / Riding Stables area. One of the guiding principles behind the LVRPA was "No open land, whatever its present use - should be built on." However in the interest of raising some cash at any cost they are hoping to sell off a strip of land to a 'Cheap Hotel' [insert appropriate name of low quality, eye-sore hotel brand]
Since they don't actually own the land, but manage it for the community, it should not be possible for them to pursue this plan, but stranger things have happened.

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Monday, 15 November 2010

Solum branded a "bad neighbour"

Watch out Walthamstow because if Solum gets planning approval for its horrid tower blocks on Walthamstow Central station car park there will be sleepless nights ahead...

That's the message we've been given by campaigners in Epsom, the first station unfortunate enough to have been targetted by Solum. The council was apparently bullied into giving planning permission even though CABE recommended it be refused (the usual strongarm tactics from developers - councillors and officers were told that if they refused permission then Epsom would miss the boat and there would be no regeneration at all!).

And now nearby residents are being woken in the early hours of the morning by work on the new development. Thankfully the local council there has now told Solum that it isn't allowed to work through the night. But residents are left with a nasty taste in their mouths that the developer thought it was appropriate to do so - on one occassion they woke up residents by cutting down a telegraph pole at 2am!

Read More......

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Meeting: Leyton Marshes threatened with high-rise development

A message from our friends at the New Lammas Lands Defence Committee... The Leyton Marshes area (just north of Hackney Marshes on the east side of the River Lea) is threatened with high-rise ribbon development along Lea Bridge Road all the way from Lea Bridge to the Railway station under the emerging Northern Olympic Fringe Legacy Masterplan, and if more residents - especially in Waltham Forest, as almost all the Users' Forum attendees are from Hackney - don't wake up to what is being proposed it could actually happen!

There will be a presentation about the proposals at the start of the Leyton & Walthamstow Marshes Users' Forum meeting next Tuesday (16th November, 6:30-8:30pm) at the Lee Valley Ice Centre. It's in the evening (email for more info on the meeting agenda).

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Monday, 1 November 2010

Drum roll please... St Modwen out!

If we hadn't, ahem, forced developer St Modwen to take down its horrid flags from the Arcade site, they'd be flying at half mast today because - according to this Walthamstow Guardian report - St Modwen and the council have now parted company!

Is this good news? Undoubtably, in our humble opinion. St Modwen repeatedly made it clear that it had no interest in working with residents and its tower block plans had little merit other than making a change from the then Arcade bombsite.

Now that the council has tidied up the site, there can be no doubt that it's worth taking the time to come up with a good quality development that will benefit the area and stand the test of time. We really hope that the council, and whoever it teams up with next, will work with residents... rather than excluding us.

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Friday, 29 October 2010

Top architects object to Solum's planned Walthamstow tower blocks

The country's top architecture experts CABE have reviewed the plans and think they should be refused. You can read their scathing report online.

Alternatively, here's a quick summary of the best bits...

CABE says that the scheme is poor quality: “We wish to support Waltham Forest Council in demanding a high quality development on this prominent site. We regret to say, we do not think this will be achieved by the current application scheme.”

CABE says that it's too tall and that the only place that a tall building (above 7 storeys) can be countenanced is on the corner of Hoe Street: “We understand that an Interim Planning Policy Framework exists for this site, which recommends development of between 5 and 7 stories. We support this policy, as a well judged guide to the scale of development appropriate for this site. The location where a hotel is proposed, on Hoe Street, is the one area where we think a taller building could be considered. Elsewhere we think the height of the development should be significantly reduced, to achieve a scale more sympathetic to its context. The stepping form of the slab blocks currently proposed will have a damaging visual impact on Walthamstow town centre. The slab blocks either side of the attractive station building are overbearingly dominant. We also think it is unacceptable for ten floors of balconies to overlook private gardens to the south on Priory Avenue.”

CABE is highly critical of the architecture: “The architecture of this scheme attempts to interpret the terraced building forms traditional to Walthamstow, stretched vertically to fit the massive height of the proposed development. We think this is not successful, resulting in an incoherent, inelegant and badly proportioned design. As well as recommending that Waltham Forest demands a reduced scale of development, we also urge the design team to adopt a calmer and simpler architectural approach. We think the brash architecture proposed will cause blight, rather than promoting regeneration. The joint CABE / EH Guidance on Tall Buildings sets out criteria for evaluating tall building proposals. This states that “to be acceptable, any new tall building should …be of first-class design quality in its own right and should enhance the qualities of its immediate location”. We do not think the current planning application meets this test.”

CABE think the application should be refused: “CABE recommends that this planning application is refused, and that a revised scheme is brought forward with a reduced amount of development of higher architectural quality.”

Now, is the council going to take any notice...?

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Solum employs dirty tactics

Solum's latest attempt to trick residents is a glossy "newsletter" (produced by Lexington Communications, a company that specialises in political lobbying and public relations) promoting the development. It's relentlessly positive, it doesn't include any pictures that indicate the height of the tower blocks, in fact it doesn't even mention the height, and it has a form residents can post back to "register your support" - this has a single box you can tick to say you support the regeneration plans, no way of registering your objection and no room to leave a comment.

No doubt they are hoping to use the results to prove demand for their development - but the council needs to be smart enough to realise that a vote for regeneration doesn't have to mean a vote for these low-quality high-rise plans; regeneration could take a better shape. Our council could be more proactive in resisting the plans, as other councils have done. For example, Richmond Council has just approved a new planning document that limits height in response to a similar high-rise scheme by Solum for Twickenham Station, forcing them to go back to the drawing board.

If you'd like to object to Solum's smooth "newsletter" you can email (although if you only have time to do one thing, please make it an email or letter to the council objecting to the plans!)

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Thursday, 14 October 2010

Vote to SaveOurStow

The 'SaveOurStow' group are campaigning to prevent the Walthamstow Dog Track being turned into a high-rise housing development.

Please go to and vote in their online survey.

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Monday, 11 October 2010

How to object to Solum's plans

As promised, here's how to object to Solum's high-rise, low-quality plans for Walthamstow Central station car park (see the stories below for more details of the plans).

Please spare a few minutes ASAP to object to the plans - by emailing or writing to Ian Ansell ( FAO: Ian Ansell), Development Management, Sycamore House, Town Hall Complex, Forest Road, London E17 4JF. Please quote "Application number 2010/1047 (1-2, 3,4,5,6 and 10, Station Approach, Hoe Street and 1,2,3 Station Approach, Selborne Road Walthamstow London E17 9QF)"

If you're stuck for what to say about them, the rough text of the points we're planning to make is below (click on "Read More..."). Please use them as inspiration. By all means copy and paste the bits you agree with but please be sure to say a few unique things yourself, or use your own words, because your objection will carry much more weight if it is unique...

Re: Application number 2010/1047 (1-2, 3,4,5,6 and 10, Station Approach, Hoe Street and 1,2,3 Station Approach, Selborne Road Walthamstow London E17 9QF)

I am writing to object to these plans on the following grounds:

1. Massing
The scheme is out of scale. It will overshadow and dominate Victorian houses on Priory Avenue (4.1, Urban Design Supplementary Planning Document). The massing is also out of keeping with surrounding blocks (5.7.1, 5.7.2 and 5.9.2 Urban Design Supplementary Planning Document). The 13 storey hotel block sits too close to Hoe Street and is far taller than the existing tallest local building – Tower Mews, which is already unpopular with local residents.
The Prince's Foundation plan for Walthamstow Town Centre recommended no more than 5-7 storey buildings ( for the site. And Waltham Forest's IPPF, derived from The Prince's Foundation report, says new developments must: "demonstrate, if a tall building is included in the scheme, how the development creates an attractive landmark enhancing London’s character, helps to provide a coherent location for economic clusters of related activities and/ or acts as a catalyst for regeneration and takes into account design and impact on their surroundings. (LP 4B.8)" (
Allowing higher massing will also set a bar for other developers in the town centre to aspire to. Waltham Forest council should be sending a clear message that enough is enough.

2. New public square
The plan features retail units around a new public square. Yet this space will likely fail as it will be dominated by blocks that will tower over it, with one side of the square also used by loading lorries and other vehicles (including likely cabs from the proposed taxi office).

3. Design of buildings
There is little from the plans to indicate a high quality of design, or a design that is in keeping with its surrounds. And the current design also puts the tallest building at the entrance to the site – creating a visual barrier to the site. The current existing buildings at the entrance of the site are quality Victorian buildings and should be protected (5.7.4, Urban Design Supplementary Planning Document). Their retention would improve the site.

4. Links to town centre
The plan is still not effectively linked to central Walthamstow's main civic spaces – the town square/High Street. And therefore it risks further splitting Walthamstow residents as to how they come out of the station. The hotel also will add nothing to Walthamstow's economic vitality and viability – with unattractive links from the site to the High Street etc. – and most likely residents of the hotel will simply be commuters who will shop, eat, drink etc. (spending their money) at Liverpool Street or in central London.

5. Quality of design
The designs bear little relation to the surrounding area and feature large repetitive facades of low-quality design, made worse by their sheer scale/height. This is meant to be a key site for the future of Walthamstow town centre – but it clearly sets a very low bar in terms of future development in terms of quality of design.
CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, said of Solum's Epsom scheme: "We do not think this scheme should receive planning approval, and are disappointed by the low quality approach to the design of both the station, and the associated retail, hotel and residential development… We understand it is the first of a series of station redevelopment projects… This approach… should not be rolled out to the other stations... A fundamental rethink is required… to achieve greater improvements to the station, a great place to live, and an architectural character more responsive to Epsom." ( Fairly obviously, given the pictures on CABE's website, and the proposed mix of uses in the Epsom scheme, the opposite is happening – Solum are rolling out a low-quality one-size-fits-all scheme with hotel, residential, retail and tower blocks as bog standard as they can get away with.

6. Lack of overall plan
There is a parcel of land attached to the site that hasn't been included in the plans – and is set to be sold off at a later date. Given the strategic importance of the site in the town centre and its creation of new public space, but with only one point of access to the whole site, it's vital this land and plans for it are considered in concert with the rest of the site. That hasn't been done yet, and there's no guarantee it will be.

Read More......

Sunday, 3 October 2010

'Especially for you'

Especially for us? NO!??!

Turns out 'Solum' [S'lum, SoGlum, Golum, SoLumpy, Soul-less; please feel free to add you own], is 'an exciting joint venture' [lucrative co-op] between 'Kier and Network Rail'. But if you thought those kindly chaps at SoGlum had chosen Walthamstow because it offers them [and us, of course] unique opportunities; 'stop right there, thank you very much'. Far from it, S'lum are hoping to deposit there visions of low-quality-sub-shopping mall, 2-a-penny-motel, tower blocks all over the South East. In 8 different locations to be exact.

Its a bit like being given a cheap and pretty crap present by your boss, and then finding out he was giving them to quite a few people actually, and he got them free at the conference he just came back from. You're not worth much effort, and your not vey special.

Epsom is the first past the post with the Plans for the Solum treatment. [It is not clear how they won this prestigious award, super lucky I guess]. To give you a flavour of what's in store for all of the 'Fortun8'. This is what CABE [Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment]; indeed, 'the Government's advisor on architecture, design and public space', have to say about Golum's plans

"We do not think this scheme should receive planning approval, and are disappointed by the low quality approach to the design of both the station, and the associated retail, hotel and residential development. "
Not a great start.

"We are particularly concerned about the poor quality of this scheme, as we understand it is the first of a series of station redevelopment projects to be brought forward by a partnership between Kier and Network Rail"
Unfortun8 for the others

"In our view this approach is not acceptable, and should not be rolled out to the other stations where Kier and Network Rail are in partnership. In our view a fundamental rethink is required, starting with revisions to the client brief, to achieve greater improvements to the station, a great place to live, and an architectural character more responsive to Epsom"

Well if that's what CABE thinks, there's no way it'll get past those sterling fellows in the council. Standing tall [but not too tall] for high quality, design led development, as they do.

They do don't they?

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Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Tower block plans online – object to them now!

View from the south - note how the blocks beautifully frame (read: TOTALLY DWARF) the station in between them!
You can now send in your objections to the proposed tower blocks on the Walthamstow Central station car park site. Plans that are 13 STOREYS at their tallest, dwarfing even Tower Mews opposite, the tallest building for miles around.

The basic info about the application can be found on the council’s website. This being Waltham Forest council, when we visited the site we couldn’t access detailed documents, but no problem – we’ve got hold of a copy and uploaded them to the web ourselves!

To see the plans in all their g(l)ory you can download this 5MB PDF file. Beware… late night reading might give you nightmares about the future of Walthamstow.

Our biggest concerns are that the tower blocks are too tall for the area, of poor design quality and won’t integrate well with the rest of the town centre. We’re not opposed to the idea of developing the car park – we just think it’s an important location that deserves something better than being carpet bombed with generic tower blocks by greedy developers.

You can email your objections to quoting planning application number 2010/1047. However horrid you think the proposals are, please try object on valid planning grounds. You could also email your ward councillors and tell them why you think this development would be bad news for Walthamstow.

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Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Another 'Crime against Design'

Development company Solum have submitted revised plans for their proposed station car park development. The plans are for a ghastly 12 storey hotel / housing block, totally out of keeping with the low-rise victorian terraces which it will loom over.
Local resident groups opposed to the development are planning a public meeting in opposition to this 'crime against design'.

Read More......

Friday, 23 July 2010

12-storey tower block - incoming!!!

Alert! Alert! The word on the street is that Solum's planning application to stick a whopping great big tower block on the Walthamstow Central station car park is imminent. Like, next week imminent.
They're sneaky so-and-sos at Solum. They did their "public exhibition" with the bare minimum of publicity, and over just two days, so many people missed it. And now they're putting in for planning permission just as school summer holidays start, so loads of people will miss the consultation period. It's almost as if they wanted to steamroller this rumoured to be 12 STOREY TOWER BLOCK through without objections!
Yep, they've cut the height from 14 to 12 storeys according to our sources. Woo! And there's minimal affordable housing in the development, and very little family housing, so it really doesn't give Walthamstow anything positive at all. There's also no parking planned, despite the development including a hotel. Oh and it's still pig ugly - see above.
We'll let you know ASAP when you can send your objections, so do please check your email when you and the family are off on holiday ;-)

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Thursday, 1 July 2010

St Modwen Are Back!

St Modwen return with new Arcade site plan

Having pulled out of a scheme to develop Walthamstow’s Arcade site with a tower containing homes, shops and community facilities St Modwen have approached the council again.

Since the council's pledge to develop the site with £30 million of taxpayers money is now dead in the water as public spending is dramatically cut, St Modwen have returned with a new “market orientated” scheme.

Council leader Chris Robbins, who ordered the site to be brought back into community use last year, said: “The council has agreed to allow St Modwen until early July to submit details of their proposals.

Watch this space for news of an entirely similar plan to blot the Walthamstow landscape.

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Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Move over St Mediocre, your time has been and gone.
Step forward 'Walthamstow Central Station'; for it is you that has been chosen.

BIGGER, BADDER, AND BLOCKIER than ever, the Stow has yet again been singled out for a gratuitous multistorey redevelopment.

Barry's report from the Public Consultation follows, and if you want to see the proposals in all their gory (sic) then follow these links:
The proposals
Consultation questionnaire
Please send completed questionnaires to Philippa Curran at

The exhibition itself was extremely modest covering only two display stands and with no handouts giving details of the development it was unclear how anyone could form a reasonable view about what is being proposed. So be it. This is my view on what I saw.

The central feature of the redevelopment is an hotel. The build which will front onto Hoe Street will be over a third higher than the Tower Mews block opposite the station. Behind the hotel would be a lower block containing flats and smallish retail outlets. In front of the station entrance will be a public square. Near where the existing car park is it is proposed to build housing – all flats, a mixture of social, essential workers etc, and Phase 2 would extend the housing farther into what is now the car park.

The build is modern, having little in common with the surrounding build, except possibly the unattractive Barclay Bank block on the corner of Hoe Street. Talking to the representatives of the developers, they placed great emphasis on the importance of the hotel, apparently we’re crying out for a 3 star budget hotel, and the additional jobs the hotel would provide at around 200.
To my mind it’s just another one of those modern, brutish developments which seek to wring out maximum revenue from a limited site. Nothing wrong with trying to make money, but why, oh, why is the template always the same. It is airport architecture: you could be anywhere. There is not the slightest nod in the direct of the particular Victorian size, height and mass of Walthamstow. What we’re getting is over powering towers. Tower Mews is currently the tallest building by a wide mile at the moment. If this gets the nod the sky will be the limit!!

Ironies of ironies, the plans include “respecting the local heritage status of the station.” By building a wall of brick and concrete around it.

We have a Labour controlled Council – with a full four year mandate and if its leader Councillor Chris Robbins is to be believed “We want to go forward on the regeneration with added vigour - Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow town centre, Leyton, and want to move forward at a fast pace,”

If the merits of this development are to be fully tested; all of us who believe that Walthamstow deserves more than a third rate hotel need to get engaged.

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Thursday, 15 April 2010

Council to break 'Homes Policy' Guidlines

A LARGE housing development by Hadley Homes, which goes against current policies on the density of new schemes will be considered by councillors next week. Officers have recommended that an application to build 562 homes in blocks up to seven-storeys high on industrial land off Billet Road, Walthamstow, should be approved to address a shortage of affordable properties.

Hadley Homes also want to include four shops, business space and community facilities - including a health centre - on land at the Billet Works, Kimberley Industrial Estate and former Tyco building in Higham Hill.

Planning documents state: “The density, height and scale of some parts of the scheme are challenging.” [Challenging = Of little benefit to anyone except Hadley Homes]

Residents, The Metropolitan Police’s Crime Prevention and Design Advisor, and the Primary Care Trust have all raised serious concerns about the development, including its density, increased traffic and security, but as yet the council has failed to address any of them.

The application will be considered by the Planning Committee on Tuesday (April 13).

Read More......

Thomas, James, and Henry - Disappointed

The Fat Controller has overlooked Sodor Island's outdated steam powered transport system and dilapidated infrastructure. Instead he has turned his attention to Walthamstow.

WALTHAMSTOW Central Station is set to be transformed under plans for £500m investment by Network Rail and construction firm Kier. Working together under the name Solum Regeneration, [clearly a front for the Fat Controller and Naughty Diesel] the companies plan to regenerate stations across south-east England.

Walthamstow Central is one of seven stations that will be among the first to get an overhaul.
Plans have not yet been unveiled, but the partnership is hoping to create retail developments close to the stations to help with the regeneration. [This will include re-landscaping much of the surrounding area with trees and bushes made from painted sponge, and the farming of cotton wool sheep]

A public consultation [hosted by Ringo Starr] on the plans for Walthamstow Central will take place later this month, but a date has not yet been confirmed.

Walthamstow Guardian article;

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Thanks to Adrian Stannard of the WALTHAM FOREST CIVIC SOCIETY for this latest planning update.

At last night's Planning Comittee there were many surprises. Firstly, the downstairs public gallery was full so I had to sit in the upstairs one [which I have not done for many years] - an indication of the publicwanting to engage in the political process - good news. Further good news was that the first two items, 154 - 160 Kings HeadHill and 454-458 Larkshall Road, both very similar and were rejected. Earlier schemes had been rejected but the developers, both housing associations supported by our taxes, have appealed.
For the Guardian's report.

We also recieved notice regarding the Whitehouse Estate, Leyton Green Road. L&Q want to demolish an existing housing estate and put in a largerone that will damage the current street scene. The existing 1920s estate is only 2 storeys but L&Q, using the same footprint, want to build a 6 storey development with no care about the street scene. Wewill be objecting.

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Monday, 8 February 2010

Temporary uses for the Arcade Site

Temporary ice rink on the Arcade site
Good effort or embarrassment?
Once again the Council massively under delivered. Luckily this winter came to rescue and provided us with a real ice rink, but that just highlighted what a farce the Council’s efforts were. The carousel on the site was so much better but even that could not lift the sense of abject failure that hangs over the site.

Let us remind ourselves of what we were told last July.
“On 25 July 2009 the Arcade site, at the junction of Hoe Street and High Street, was opened up to the public as a temporary events/ activity/ community space. The site was prepared with a hard surface to provide maximum flexibility for possible future interim uses. The 25 July also saw the beginning of a 6 week public consultation exercise which sought to capture the views of the local community as to what events/ activities/ uses they would like to see on this space over the next 18 months-2years.”

The consultation exercise involved a questionnaire, an independent survey and a discussion group with key stakeholders and residents. The resulting Report , published last October, identified a wide range of activities and preferences, which the Report broke down into 6 categories; Performance, Events, Art Projects, Markets, Retail and Sports. Enough material, you would have thought, to enable the Council to do more than erect a flea bitten ice rink.

It gets worse than that. An ice rink was a popular choice in the “Events” category, with kids especially keen on the idea. What they got was a disgrace. But what about the Art Exhibitions, Cinema, Music, Dance or even the idea of a Space for Small Businesses which were amongst the many ideas generated during the consultation?
There has been nothing from the Council since October. Except now it plans to charge campaigners for setting up stalls in the Town Square.

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