8th May 2012
The meeting began at 7.30pm and finished 3.5hours later unusually in the Assembly Hall with about 300 people present. Cllr Siggers (Con) started the meeting asking why one of the speakers had spoken of the Chief Whip being involved. He was assured by the Chair each member of the Committee was independent. Well if that was true why was the vote on party lines? Once again Labour won 4:3 with two of the Labour Councillors Cllr Vincent and Mahmood not engaging in the debate while Cllr Gray was shouted down for irrelevant waffle. The Chair even started summing up before the Labour members were allowed to speak. While the current members of the Planning Committee continue to serve we can be sure all future decisions will be 4:3 just as the Walthamstow Station Car Park tower block was.
17 residents and 5 local councillors all spoke against the scheme raising key issues which were ignored by the Labour councillors. Even the local MPs Ian Duncan-Smith (Chingford) and Stella Creasy (Walthamstow), both unable to attend due to Parliamentary business, sent statements opposing the scheme.
Cllr Northover (Con) at the end made an impassioned plea for the key issues to be taken seriously but the Chair called for the vote and Planning Permission was granted to L&Q.
The main issues raised by the 17 residents , MPs and Tory and Liberal Councillors were (a) Residents not fully briefed on latest plans – Environment Agency Report and English Heritage reports not available to them (b) No social rented housing (c) Only 20% affordable homes instead of 50% (d) Lack of school places (not a Planning Consideration!) (d) Safety issues of the undercroft parking (e) Over development of the site (f) Density 310 homes instead of 250 per hectare (g) Officers report completed before Environment Agency report available (h) Heritage not being protected which is against national policies (i) £18m paid for site so not financially viable hence lack of social housing (j) The future of Waltham Forest being ignored (k)Dog track was financially viable (l) The river Ching flooding issues ignored (m) Inadequate parking on site only 0.7 spaces.
The scheme now goes to the Mayor for the GLA’s consideration. It has been 4 years since the site was last used as a dog track and it will be some time before it will be brought back into use with the protesters continuing the fight.