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Interesting article in the Waltham Forest Guardian this week claiming that the proposed development of a 18 storey tower block on the former Arcade site has hit prices for houses in its shadow.

“When a resident next to the site went to a surveyor she discovered the preferred design that St Modwen has suggested for the site would overshadow her garden, meaning her home will be worth £10,000 less than if situated elsewhere.”

Caramel Quin of Fighttheheight.co.uk had been told that earlier plans for a seven storey development would have boosted prices: “property experts told us the area would be improved and prices would go up“.

Developers will of course make plenty of money from the new tower blocks planned at the Arcade, and the 23 storey Blackhorse Road development.

When residents who currently look out on playing fields and reservoirs find that view replaced by 23 storeys of flats, will they also find the price they can get for their home has fallen too?

Send the developers PR team your views on the proposed Blackhorse Land development here.

As previously reported Prince Charles’ Foundation for the built environment has stated (here) that high rise’s are both unnecessary and inappropriate for Walthamstow.

“Waltham Forest called in the foundation to masterplan the Town Centre of Walthamstow. (Foundation executive) Dittmar says the foundation was interested to explore how Walthamstow, in an outer London borough, could meet mayor Ken Livingstone’s target for affordable housing and how greater residential density was compatible with Walthamstow’s Victorian terraced houses.

Dittmar asks: ‘How can you increase density without sticking people into tower blocks? If you ask Londoners about tower blocks, you find that they are only liked by investors in property.’

The foundation looked at other boroughs and concluded that the four-storey houses of St John’s Wood or Swiss Cottage and the mansion blocks of Kensington and Chelsea provided density without towers”.

The battle to find out which high rise will be the largest, most unpopular, and least wanted by the community is on. 18 storeys are planned on the old arcade site, along with the 15 and 23 storey flats planned for Blackhorse Road.

In response local campaigners have set up a website Fighttheheight.co.uk to try and pressure the council to retreat from their mission to build them high, pack them in, and whatever you do, don’t ever include community facilities!

The site spotlights the much heralded Prince’s Foundation report on the redevelopment of Walthamstow, and how it specifically stated that housing development should be “compatible with Walthamstow’s Victorian terraced houses“.

In an interview with Property Week, Prince Charles & the chief executive of his Foundation, Hank Dittmar talk how high rise housing is inappropriate in an area such as Walthamstow.

They recommended a maximum height of 8 storeys for Walthamstow Town Centre, and neatly summed up the views of the community as: “If you ask Londoners about tower blocks, you find that they are only liked by investors in property“.

Read the interview with Prince Charles in Property Week (scroll towards the end for Walthamstow).
Visit Fighttheheight.co.uk for more on the opposition to high rises in Walthamstow.
The Walthamstow Town Centre Consultation website
Send the developers your views on the 15 & 23 Storey block’s of flats planned at Blackhorse Road.

The Walthamstow Guardian reports that Councillors Loakes and Rayner might not agree on stuffing the area behind Hawarden with tower blocks… article here.

Here’s hoping you all had a fantastic Christmas – great food, company and, who knows, even useful presents!
If you didn’t have the opportunity to go to the exhibition and comment on the plans developers are proposing for BHL2, you can still do it by sending your views by e-mail, fax or post to Harry Hudson. Please submit your comments by the 4th of January.

Harry Hudson
Green Issues Communications Ltd
Freepost NAT22750
Reading
RG1 4BR
e-mail: harryh@greenissues.com
fax: 0118 959 8244

Reminder: this is about the proposed housing (see plans here) and not the school. We’ll let you know more on that score as we find things out.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Green Issues have posted their exhibition boards from last week’s consultation on their website. You can see them here. You can also download a pdf version of them here. It gives some useful explanations.

For those who were unable to make it, it’s worth taking a look – you won’t really appreciate what is proposed until you’ve looked over the design ‘concept’ given there in glorious technicolour. Those who did go might want to download a copy for their own records.

Green Issues, the agents of the developers, are holding a three day exhibition of their plans for the proposed development of housing on BHL2. Anybody with an interest on what gets put up on that land should go a long and take a look, and feed their views into the process.

 

They’re spreading the exhibition over three days, so as to give people as much chance as possible to attend. Which is nice. Here are details:

Venue: Stoneydown Park Primary School, Pretoria Avenue,

Walthamstow E17 6JY

Dates: Thursday 13 December from 6 to 8.30pm

Friday 14 December from 6 to 8.30pm; and

Saturday 15 December from 10am to 2 pm.

 

It’s worth casting your eye over Green Issues’ detailed account of their recollection of the meeting with us: click here.

You can also look back over the last thing posted here on this subject: click here.

Members of the Acting Committee had a meeting this evening with people from Green Issues and from DP9, the developers’ PR agents and planning ‘fixers’, respectively. It went pretty well, on the whole: they were polite and we learned some fascinating stuff.

Here are the key facts, some of which are alarming…

Just housing :: On the site behind Hawarden Road (BHL2), they are planning to just build housing. Mixed use is simply not in their brief. What’s more, there seems to be little regard to the ecological or community sustainability of the site.* On an enclosed site with limited access and no amenities! We explained some home truths about the area, and we hope they’ll feed them back… Watch this space, but don’t hold your breath just yet: it’s clear we’ve got some major work to do.
*It’s only fair to point out that the developers are ‘aiming’ for BREEAM 3 certification (see an overview here and check the planning links to the left for full guidance), which was recently made the statutory minimum.  In environmental terms, it’s a huge improvement on how things used to be done, but we could still push for a higher certification. It’s also only fair to point out that the fact that an all-housing development on BHL2 is anti-community is not entirely the developers’ fault.  Surely the Council must have briefed them on what it wants there (note, this is the same Council that told us it had no idea what the plans were and we should wait for information from the developers…).

High density :: They couldn’t give a precise figure for the area of the site, but confirmed that it is at least 1.5 hectares, and probably around 1.7 hectares. The Council’s Unitary Development Policy (UDP) says that higher-density housing should be encouraged in areas within 10 mins walk of transport hubs: that is, up to 450 “habitable rooms” (ie not including bathrooms and kitchens) per hectare. However, the London Plan (Our Ken’s plan for the whole of London) allows for up to 700 habitable rooms per hectare. The developers of BHL2 are clearly gunning for 700 – they want every last square inch. And this council will probably cave in: they’re famous among developers for how easy it is to run rings around them…

High rise :: The Plan, such as it is, is to build houses immediately behind Hawarden Road that are the same height as the terraced houses that are already there. The buildings would then step up, like a terrace, towards a ‘landmark’ building on the southern tip of the site (ie furthest away from Blackhorse Road) that would be at least 15 storeys high.

Highly congested :: It was very clear that the developers have no clue about the transport stresses in this area: they’ve obviously never been caught at rush hour trying to turn into Blackhorse road or getting a seat on the tube. They seemed sympathetic to our concerns, but bear in mind that every concession we win bites into their profits.

Affordability :: The planned homes on BHL2 will be divided as follows:

  • One third will be privately owned outright. These will probably be the choicest homes. Penthouse anybody?
  • One third will be social housing for rent. That is, a social landlord will own them and rent them out. (Hopefully at a good rate to key workers.)
  • One third will be Londonwide Initiative (LWI) shared rental. Now that’s a new and slightly worrying “innovation“. It makes ownership cheaper, housing more affordable. But at what price? The usual shared ownership scheme allows people to buy at least half of their home; they then pay rental on the bit that’s left over. In the LWI shared ownership scheme, buyers don’t pay rent on the bit they don’t own, but they buy less than half of the property. This means that they don’t have a controlling stake in their property, and it will almost certainly result in people buying flats just to invest in the equity and then move on as quickly as possible. In fact, the Metro newspaper recently did a spread on LWI shared ownership schemes, recommending them to the canny investor. Doesn’t sound as if it will do anything to make our community more sustainable…

Families :: We asked them what proportion of the development was to be reserved for family housing (ie at least three bedrooms – essential to the sustainability of this community). They’re reckoning with around 15%. At the last meeting of this residents association, residents pushed for 50%.

Road access :: The developers, like the council, are planning a loop road to service their housing estate. There will be one entrance/exit directly onto Blackhorse Road, and one entrance/exit at that little driveway alley at the foot of Hawarden Road, where it bends into Edward Road. Just take a moment to picture the gridlock.

We fed back the views of residents as collected at our last residents meeting. We can hope… and, to be fair, they’ve promised further consultation. But it is clear that we have to keep up the pressure to make sure that a genuine consultation takes place. It’s true that the developers are just ignorant of many local issues on the ground. And they have said that they are keen to know what those concerns are. But the main thing now has to be to make them care about those issues.

Next meeting :: The developers are planning a consultation in December, probably around the 15th… We’ll let you know dates and venues as soon as we hear more.

Meanwhile, please keep thinking about this, and pass your views on!

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