Lib Dems respond to Council’s planning options consultation

by gwynethdeakins on 6 January, 2015

South Woodford’s Lib Dem Councillors have responded to the Council Planning Department’s consultation on ‘Options’ for more housing development in the Borough.  This is what we said:


1.  In general we strongly support the draft Plan’s aims of increasing the supply of housing in Redbridge, as the strain placed on our community by insufficient housing is obvious – the pressure on private sector rents, the increasing number and cost of homeless families and the number of young people living with their parents as they cannot find housing of their own.

2.  It is clear that we must all all costs avoid a situation in which Redbridge’s Local Plan is not accepted by the Mayor or the Government and we are faced with  a free-for-all for developers.

 The Options

3.  Of the Options set out in the consultation report, there are rational reasons for supporting some or all of the development proposed in options 1 and 2, as these present coherent parcels of land available with scope for associated infrastructure to be provided alongside any housing development.  A firm policy of replacing any facilities lost as a result of such development should be pursued.

4.  However we are at a loss to understand why Option 3 was included in the consultation since it offers none of the advantages of the other options in terms of the availability of space to design high quality housing or to provide necessary infrastructure. 

 Over-development of South Woodford

5.  We share the views expressed by many residents of South Woodford (and elsewhere in the proposed ‘corridor’) that intensification of development as suggested would have catastrophic effects on the area. 

It would lead to a major downturn in South Woodford’s economic prosperity and community cohesion, as families and professional workers would desert the area and be replaced by a transient flat-dwelling population with no long-term commitment to South Woodford or Redbridge.  The Borough as a whole would suffer economically and socially as a result.

6. Church End ward has already experienced a huge amount of development since 2000; we believe planning permission has been given for nearly 1500 new dwelllings.  However nothing has been done to provide the infrastructure to support this new development.  As a result:

  •  The local junior and infants school in Churchfields has reached capacity and many parents living close to the school are now being offered places in Barkingside, the nearest that places are available.
  • We often get complaints about how hard it is to get appointments at local health facilities (particularly South Woodford Health Centre) because provision no longer meets demand in the area.
  • The High Road in South Woodford is constantly congested – for the whole day now, not just the rush hour period.  Much of the additional traffic has resulted from new development in the area e.g. a continuous stream of vehicles leaving the Queen Mary Gate development through the day and evening.
  • The report puts great stress on the closeness of the Central Line but TfL now lists this as the most congested underground line in London, running at something like 140% capacity already, without the impact of more commuters coming from further development in the area.  South Woodford station is shown as having in excess of 5 million passenger movements a year at present – which is five times the level of stations such as Fairlop.

7. The proposal therefore is not supported by the evidence that has been given and ddoes not take into account the pressure on local infrastructure that already exists and which has been worsened by the substantial amount of development which has taken place since 2000.

8. The draft Local Plan already proposes a development corridor from South Woodford to the east, which will have to be carefully managed if it is to provide benefits without overburdening local transport and other community infrastructure.  Adding the proposed Option 3 to this proposal would be insane.

9. With regard to the detail of Option 3 we point that out that it is riddled with errors and for that reason alone should not even be considered as part of the Council’s planning strategy. This is mainly based on the table that you have included. This includes 31 Woodford Road where the Council gave planning permission in 2005 for a development that has now been built, and three of the other sites listed are not in the town centre areas. If the development criteria were to be relaxed for these sites then they would be incompatible with the Council’s policies in the LDF on density, parking, amenity space etc.  This would mean that the LDF would become a worthless document.

10.  Also the Council do not seem to have considered other policies that might help with providing additional homes and is being totally inconsistent.  You have listed a site in Tavistock Road (wrongly listed as Travistock Road) for higher density when roads nearer to the town centre are not allowed by Planning to have any kind of multi-occupancy. This gives rise to the paradox of the Council refusing planning permission for the subdivision of a large house in Cleveland Road (which was sub-divided before it was acquired by the present owner in 1962) which is much nearer the town centre than most of the sites identified as being suitable for high density development.


11.  For these reasons we urge that Option 3 is immediately and comprehensively dismissed.  Even if this is done we are concerned that simply by including it in this exercise, the Council may have given predatory developers encouragement to think that in the future the Council may contemplate an intensification of development in the Wanstead/Woodford corridor.  We believe it is essential that the Council makes it completely clear at the earliest opportunity that this option has been buried for good.   


Cllr Gwyneth Deakins

Cllr Hugh Cleaver

Cllr Ian Bond


We will be keeping a close eye on what the Council does next, and reporting it here and in Focus.

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