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Eric Pickles unable to intervene over Stow
The government has said its Communities Secretary Eric Pickles cannot intervene in plans to build a housing estate at Walthamstow Stadium due to a council manoeuvre.
The controversial proposals to build 294 homes at the iconic former dog racing venue were first approved by Labour councillors back in May before Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson agreed to final permission last week.
The only non-legal hope left to campaigners was that Mr Pickles could step in and overrule his Tory colleague on a planning rules technicality.
After the mayor gave his approval Waltham Forest Council had to formally acknowledge his decision before granting final planning permission.
Residents were told this would probably take 21 days and Mr Pickles could only intervene during this period.
But now it has emerged that the council fast-tracked the planning application and gave it final approval within 48 hours of the mayor announcing his decision, leaving Mr Pickles now powerless to intervene.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said Waltham Forest Council had acted "extremely quickly" but was legally entitled to do so.
It comes despite Mr Johnson saying his decision was "subject to any action the secretay of state may take".
The unusual move has been branded a "disgrace" by the Walthamstow Stadium Area Residents Association.
Spokeswoman Gail Penfold said they wanted to launch a judicial review to challenge Mr Johnson's decision to approve the plans.
But the group is currently looking for funding to afford such a move.
Ms Penfold said: "We are aware there is significant public interest and believe we have sufficient grounds to take this matter to judicial review.
"Had LBWF [the council] allowed Eric Pickles and his team sufficient time to receive all the relevant documents and make a decision we believe this action would not have been necessary."
Campaigners are due to hold a static protest outside Walthamstow Stadium, in Chingford Road, Chingford, at 1pm on Saturday (November 10).
There is currently a ban on moving marches in Waltham Forest due to a failed attempt by the far-right English Defence League (EDL) to hold a demonstration in Walthamstow last month.
The stadium closed in 2008 and campaigners have been calling for it to be reopened with dog racing ever since.
More to follow.
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