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Campaigners defiant over Walthamstow Stadium
CAMPAIGNERS against a housing estate set to be built on Walthamstow Stadium gathered in defiance last week as they prepare for a last-ditch attempt to prevent the build.
The protesters counted ex-footballer Teddy Sheringham and 'Allo 'Allo actress Vicky Michelle in their numbers as they demonstrated outside the iconic former dog track in Chingford Road, Walthamstow, on Saturday.
Controversial plans to build 294 homes at the iconic former dog racing track were approved by Waltham Forest Council earlier this year before being rubber stamped by Mayor of London Boris Johnson last month.
Campaigners had been clinging to the hope that Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for communities, would intervene, but the council completed the final paperwork to grant planning permission within 48 hours of Mr Johnson's decision, leaving the government powerless to block the development.
It means Save Our Stow (SOS), which wants to see a return of greyhound racing, and Walthamstow Stadium Residents/Community Association have started legal proceedings for a judicial review against the approval of housing developer London & Quadrant's (L&Q) scheme.
Residents association chair Gail Penfold said: "We remain defiant, we're determined to fight this.We have overwhelming public support.
"We had cars stopping in the road for drivers to jump out to sign the petitions on Saturday and if we get the funds then we're confident."
The campaigners are considering applying for legal funding, which could also protect them from paying the council's costs if they lose.
SOS member Ricky Holloway claimed there are around 60 reasons the approval should not have been granted, including overdevelopment and a lack of affordable housing.
Meanwhile, Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy met Mr Pickles yesterday to discuss the issue.
A joint statement from the pair read: "The Secretary of State listened and understood our situation and has asked officials to look into how the council handled the case.
"We felt positive after the meeting and we remain determined that the fight is not over."
L&Q has said it is keen to start building the housing as quickly as possible.
Andy Rowland, the company's land and projects director, added: "We will build 294 much needed, high quality homes for people on a range of incomes...[and] will preserve the architectural heritage of this iconic and historic site for the whole community."
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