Labour-dominated planning committee questioned

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: An artists impression of the development. An artists impression of the development.

The approval of a major development in central Walthamstow has come under criticism today as residents react to the decision.

The planning committee yesterday approved the 34-metre high development in South Grove, which includes a Morrisons supermarket and 250 flats.

There are claims that the Labour-dominated planning committee is undemocratic as voting is done along party lines, rather than on the merits of the application.

Caramel Quin is chairwoman of the Cleveland Park Residents’ Association, which represents around 200 homes near the site.

She was at the planning committee meeting on Tuesday and said the decision did not take into account residents’ interests.

“It was a political decision, not a planning decision and utterly undemocratic,” the 41-year-old said.

Labour councillors Peter Barnett, Karen Bellamy and Jenny Gray voted in favour, as well as Liberal Democrat councillor Elizabeth Phillips, while Conservative councillors Jemma Hemsted and Alan Siggers voted against.

“They voiced concerns about there being no environmental impact assessment and that traffic and retail impact looked like it would be substantial but nothing was done because there’s a Labour majority on the committee,” she added.

“I’m very disappointed. I don’t think the planning committee are fit for purpose because big decisions get rubber stamped along party lines.”

She also said the committee members acknowledged that officer’s reports compiled by the applicant were “quite sketchy”.

In an open letter submitted to council leader Chris Robbins prior to the decision, the residents’ association said surrounding roads could not cope with increased congestion.

Other concerns related to the scale, which the association claims would blight the neighbourhood, and the negative impact on nearby businesses, including Walthamstow market traders.

Jonathan Crossley, of Browns Road in Walthamstow, was also at the meeting and spoke on behalf of ArchitectsE17, a group which aims to promote quality planning in Walthamstow.

He said: "I'm very concerned that approval was granted. This is a completely out of character development that is poorly conceived.

“It is very questionable if it will bring regeneration to the high street or just take footfall from existing businesses, especially when prevailing reports find that town centres require less retail space, not more.

"I am not opposed to tall, elegant, and well designed contemporary buildings, but this is not."
He said the Walthamstow Central 'gateway' site currently under construction was supposed to be singled out as a special site in the town centre for a tall building.

Mr Crossley added: "Most importantly ArchitectsE17 would like Waltham Forest Council to set up its own Design Review Panel, which is common in other boroughs across London, that would assess schemes thoroughly as part of the planning process so that the design of developments is more appropriate and more rigorously considered."

Morrisons said the development would create hundreds of jobs for local residents.

The council is expected to issue a statement tomorrow.

Comments (19)

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7:01pm Wed 4 Dec 13

TTMAN says...

I went along last night to hear another planning application and as this developement was first up sat back and listened.

What a liberty?

I thought they would definately throw it out due to the well reasoned objections.

However come the vote 4 voted in favour and I thought that's it all the others would chuck it out. Amazement the voting was only 6 strong, ridiculous on such a monumental developement.

One of the Councillors gave a lengthy diatribe in favour, if you believe what she was saying came from her pen I would be very surprised. At an educated guess the Morrison's pr team were well involved along with the Labour party machine. The Councillors are supposed to vote as individual thinkers, but this is clearly ignored.

The chairman spoke about the new car park and all the extra vehicles it would attract was an irrelavence as the existing car park was already large. He totally avoided the fact raised by a Councillor that the existing is overwhelming underused being a good site for learners to practice.

Morrisons man made capital of the hundreds of jobs their store would provide especially for the 16 - 24 age group currently on the dole. Nothing against working in the retail trade but the borough lacks "proper jobs" manufacturing engineering etc.

I found the whole process competely distasteful.

Quite sometime since I have visited the town hall, very nice lilac leather sofas, recession?
I went along last night to hear another planning application and as this developement was first up sat back and listened. What a liberty? I thought they would definately throw it out due to the well reasoned objections. However come the vote 4 voted in favour and I thought that's it all the others would chuck it out. Amazement the voting was only 6 strong, ridiculous on such a monumental developement. One of the Councillors gave a lengthy diatribe in favour, if you believe what she was saying came from her pen I would be very surprised. At an educated guess the Morrison's pr team were well involved along with the Labour party machine. The Councillors are supposed to vote as individual thinkers, but this is clearly ignored. The chairman spoke about the new car park and all the extra vehicles it would attract was an irrelavence as the existing car park was already large. He totally avoided the fact raised by a Councillor that the existing is overwhelming underused being a good site for learners to practice. Morrisons man made capital of the hundreds of jobs their store would provide especially for the 16 - 24 age group currently on the dole. Nothing against working in the retail trade but the borough lacks "proper jobs" manufacturing engineering etc. I found the whole process competely distasteful. Quite sometime since I have visited the town hall, very nice lilac leather sofas, recession? TTMAN

7:07pm Wed 4 Dec 13

AC1975 says...

I'm a Walthamstow resident too - have lived off Queen's Rd for over years - and I'm very pleased with the developments currently taking place including the South Grove development. I've had online run ins before with these unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population. It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is BEST for the majority of the population in Walthamstow/ LBWF. And what's this 'ArchitectsE17' - another unelected body throwing their tuppences worth who probably want a seat on 'design review panel'. Do me a favour Quin et al, accept feed into consultations that's fine, vote against decision makers you don't like but DONT MAKE THESE ISSUES BIGGER THAN THEY REALLY ARE. I'm loving what's happening to the 'stow!!
I'm a Walthamstow resident too - have lived off Queen's Rd for over years - and I'm very pleased with the developments currently taking place including the South Grove development. I've had online run ins before with these unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population. It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is BEST for the majority of the population in Walthamstow/ LBWF. And what's this 'ArchitectsE17' - another unelected body throwing their tuppences worth who probably want a seat on 'design review panel'. Do me a favour Quin et al, accept feed into consultations that's fine, vote against decision makers you don't like but DONT MAKE THESE ISSUES BIGGER THAN THEY REALLY ARE. I'm loving what's happening to the 'stow!! AC1975

8:37pm Wed 4 Dec 13

Jc e17 says...

AC1975… The Design Review Panel is a well established model in other boroughs, that helps the local authority influence the design of significant developments that do effect the majority. It allows the council to tap into a pool of design skills that are not otherwise available within the authority but also have an understanding of the local area and context of a site. Most importantly they are able to review schemes whilst they are embryonic and not developed to a full planning application stage, when often it is too late to change fundamental aspects of a design. This early advice helps both the local authority (better design and hopefully therefore a less protracted consultation period) and developers (who get a qualified design steer early on in the design process.) Panels are administered by the local authority and have clear ethical codes of conduct, individuals selected by the authority on the basis of experience.

Hackney has a panel, for example: http://www.hackney.g
ov.uk/designreviewpa
nel.htm#.Up-MRKUXf8s


And more information, in case you are interested:
http://www.architect
ure.com/Files/RIBAHo
ldings/PolicyAndInte
rnationalRelations/P
olicy/DesignReviewPr
inciplesandPractice.
pdf
AC1975… The Design Review Panel is a well established model in other boroughs, that helps the local authority influence the design of significant developments that do effect the majority. It allows the council to tap into a pool of design skills that are not otherwise available within the authority but also have an understanding of the local area and context of a site. Most importantly they are able to review schemes whilst they are embryonic and not developed to a full planning application stage, when often it is too late to change fundamental aspects of a design. This early advice helps both the local authority (better design and hopefully therefore a less protracted consultation period) and developers (who get a qualified design steer early on in the design process.) Panels are administered by the local authority and have clear ethical codes of conduct, individuals selected by the authority on the basis of experience. Hackney has a panel, for example: http://www.hackney.g ov.uk/designreviewpa nel.htm#.Up-MRKUXf8s And more information, in case you are interested: http://www.architect ure.com/Files/RIBAHo ldings/PolicyAndInte rnationalRelations/P olicy/DesignReviewPr inciplesandPractice. pdf Jc e17

1:57am Thu 5 Dec 13

Debbie2312 says...

AC1975 wrote:
I'm a Walthamstow resident too - have lived off Queen's Rd for over years - and I'm very pleased with the developments currently taking place including the South Grove development. I've had online run ins before with these unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population. It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is BEST for the majority of the population in Walthamstow/ LBWF. And what's this 'ArchitectsE17' - another unelected body throwing their tuppences worth who probably want a seat on 'design review panel'. Do me a favour Quin et al, accept feed into consultations that's fine, vote against decision makers you don't like but DONT MAKE THESE ISSUES BIGGER THAN THEY REALLY ARE. I'm loving what's happening to the 'stow!!
It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is best for the population of Walthamstow, but the elected Council have failed in this for many years. I have lived in Walthamstow all my life and have seen Walthamstow become the shabby run down place it is today. You failed to say how many years you have lived in Walthamstow? All this Council are interested in is building more homes not for the people living in Walthamstow already but bringing more people in to Walthamstow which will in turn impact on our already over stretched schools, hospitals etc.
You say you have had online run ins before with unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population, but it seems to me that is exactly what you are doing?
In anything like this there will always be people for and people against, but I am afraid on this issue the Councils decision making did not add up, but it has been like that for many years so why should I be surprised!
[quote][p][bold]AC1975[/bold] wrote: I'm a Walthamstow resident too - have lived off Queen's Rd for over years - and I'm very pleased with the developments currently taking place including the South Grove development. I've had online run ins before with these unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population. It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is BEST for the majority of the population in Walthamstow/ LBWF. And what's this 'ArchitectsE17' - another unelected body throwing their tuppences worth who probably want a seat on 'design review panel'. Do me a favour Quin et al, accept feed into consultations that's fine, vote against decision makers you don't like but DONT MAKE THESE ISSUES BIGGER THAN THEY REALLY ARE. I'm loving what's happening to the 'stow!![/p][/quote]It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is best for the population of Walthamstow, but the elected Council have failed in this for many years. I have lived in Walthamstow all my life and have seen Walthamstow become the shabby run down place it is today. You failed to say how many years you have lived in Walthamstow? All this Council are interested in is building more homes not for the people living in Walthamstow already but bringing more people in to Walthamstow which will in turn impact on our already over stretched schools, hospitals etc. You say you have had online run ins before with unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population, but it seems to me that is exactly what you are doing? In anything like this there will always be people for and people against, but I am afraid on this issue the Councils decision making did not add up, but it has been like that for many years so why should I be surprised! Debbie2312

7:17am Thu 5 Dec 13

Helen, Walthamstow says...

AC1975 wrote:
I'm a Walthamstow resident too - have lived off Queen's Rd for over years - and I'm very pleased with the developments currently taking place including the South Grove development. I've had online run ins before with these unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population. It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is BEST for the majority of the population in Walthamstow/ LBWF. And what's this 'ArchitectsE17' - another unelected body throwing their tuppences worth who probably want a seat on 'design review panel'. Do me a favour Quin et al, accept feed into consultations that's fine, vote against decision makers you don't like but DONT MAKE THESE ISSUES BIGGER THAN THEY REALLY ARE. I'm loving what's happening to the 'stow!!
You refer to "unelected pressure groups". What you really mean are people who actively care about what is happening in their community and work together to put forward a case for whatever cause they all support.

Unlike the councillors, they are not in a position to impose their views on others, but merely to campaign and voice their opinions, and people like you who take a different line on an issue are just as free to voice that view and to try to persuade others to support you.

What exactly do you think is tha alternative? That we all sit round placidly like a load of sheep waiting to be "done to"?

Whenever you write about these "unelected pressure groups", you make them sound like sinister secret societies out to destroy the world for the silent majority. It's a sign of a healthy society that people are free to make their views known. Maybe most of the "silent majority" just don't care or are too idle to do anything about it.
[quote][p][bold]AC1975[/bold] wrote: I'm a Walthamstow resident too - have lived off Queen's Rd for over years - and I'm very pleased with the developments currently taking place including the South Grove development. I've had online run ins before with these unelected pressure groups who take it upon themselves to speak for the rest of Walthamstow's population. It is the duty of the elected Council to do what is BEST for the majority of the population in Walthamstow/ LBWF. And what's this 'ArchitectsE17' - another unelected body throwing their tuppences worth who probably want a seat on 'design review panel'. Do me a favour Quin et al, accept feed into consultations that's fine, vote against decision makers you don't like but DONT MAKE THESE ISSUES BIGGER THAN THEY REALLY ARE. I'm loving what's happening to the 'stow!![/p][/quote]You refer to "unelected pressure groups". What you really mean are people who actively care about what is happening in their community and work together to put forward a case for whatever cause they all support. Unlike the councillors, they are not in a position to impose their views on others, but merely to campaign and voice their opinions, and people like you who take a different line on an issue are just as free to voice that view and to try to persuade others to support you. What exactly do you think is tha alternative? That we all sit round placidly like a load of sheep waiting to be "done to"? Whenever you write about these "unelected pressure groups", you make them sound like sinister secret societies out to destroy the world for the silent majority. It's a sign of a healthy society that people are free to make their views known. Maybe most of the "silent majority" just don't care or are too idle to do anything about it. Helen, Walthamstow

10:10am Thu 5 Dec 13

driftingcowboy says...

What I'd like to know is, how many of those on the planning committee have had training in understanding the planning process, in understanding the importance of good design and appropriate siting and impact of developments on a local community? How qualified are they to really decide on such matters?
What I'd like to know is, how many of those on the planning committee have had training in understanding the planning process, in understanding the importance of good design and appropriate siting and impact of developments on a local community? How qualified are they to really decide on such matters? driftingcowboy

11:23am Thu 5 Dec 13

chingford lad says...

Can I ask if this hugh supermarket has a car park?
Can I ask if this hugh supermarket has a car park? chingford lad

12:32pm Thu 5 Dec 13

markhouse24 says...

chingford lad wrote:
Can I ask if this hugh supermarket has a car park?
Yes it has a car park for the shoppers- not for the residents of the flats though, who will have to find other places to park.
CPZs may be on their way for streets around St James
[quote][p][bold]chingford lad[/bold] wrote: Can I ask if this hugh supermarket has a car park?[/p][/quote]Yes it has a car park for the shoppers- not for the residents of the flats though, who will have to find other places to park. CPZs may be on their way for streets around St James markhouse24

12:33pm Thu 5 Dec 13

JB1981 says...

cleveland park road is not really close to the south grove site. at all.
cleveland park road is not really close to the south grove site. at all. JB1981

4:22pm Thu 5 Dec 13

Robert19 says...

A design review panel would be a good idea for Waltham Forest. There are too many developments of poor design that get through the planning process. It all seems very disjointed and lacking in any coherence - simple rabbit hutch after rabbit hutch with one or two honourable exceptions. I'm particularly concerned about the cladding to many new builds. Coloured cladding seems to quickly fade and looks nasty in a very short while.
We also seem to be going back to high rise - certainly around the High Street. The 1960s and 70s prove that these only work in specific environments, most quickly become slums particularly if built for social housing and high density.
There is a desperate need for housing, particularly social housing, but we seem to be going down the same route that they did after the war, when there was a similar desperate need, with disastrous consequences. This development looks no better in spite of the wonderful sky in the artist's impression in one of the later stories on Morrisons on this page. Not sure that will always be there to distract your attention..
A design review panel would be a good idea for Waltham Forest. There are too many developments of poor design that get through the planning process. It all seems very disjointed and lacking in any coherence - simple rabbit hutch after rabbit hutch with one or two honourable exceptions. I'm particularly concerned about the cladding to many new builds. Coloured cladding seems to quickly fade and looks nasty in a very short while. We also seem to be going back to high rise - certainly around the High Street. The 1960s and 70s prove that these only work in specific environments, most quickly become slums particularly if built for social housing and high density. There is a desperate need for housing, particularly social housing, but we seem to be going down the same route that they did after the war, when there was a similar desperate need, with disastrous consequences. This development looks no better in spite of the wonderful sky in the artist's impression in one of the later stories on Morrisons on this page. Not sure that will always be there to distract your attention.. Robert19

7:14pm Thu 5 Dec 13

fabster says...

driftingcowboy wrote:
What I'd like to know is, how many of those on the planning committee have had training in understanding the planning process, in understanding the importance of good design and appropriate siting and impact of developments on a local community? How qualified are they to really decide on such matters?
Drifting cowboy, the answer to your question is that I looked up LinkdIn to see what the experience and background is of the chief planning officer as I had a run in with her on our own planning application. Guess what? The planning officer on South Grove has no experience what so ever in planning and design. Basically it's an admin role. In fact rather sure it's her first job as her LinkdIn profile doesn't show any previous experience before working for LBWF council.
[quote][p][bold]driftingcowboy[/bold] wrote: What I'd like to know is, how many of those on the planning committee have had training in understanding the planning process, in understanding the importance of good design and appropriate siting and impact of developments on a local community? How qualified are they to really decide on such matters?[/p][/quote]Drifting cowboy, the answer to your question is that I looked up LinkdIn to see what the experience and background is of the chief planning officer as I had a run in with her on our own planning application. Guess what? The planning officer on South Grove has no experience what so ever in planning and design. Basically it's an admin role. In fact rather sure it's her first job as her LinkdIn profile doesn't show any previous experience before working for LBWF council. fabster

12:29am Fri 6 Dec 13

AC1975 says...

Debbie I've lived here since 1976 (moved here immigrant when I was 1). I went to local schools and even recollect playing football in a patch of land before the shopping centre was built. I loved Walthamstow before it became fashionable to love Walthamstow lol. I agree with you the whole arcade thing was a balls up of the highest order - I can't believe that they knocked it down in 1999 and it took 14 years for anything to happen (all that lost revenue, jobs, etc etc). Yet we can't be shackled by the past and should always look at what is best for ALL in the future. The income brought in by all these developments (rates, council tax etc etc) will be most welcome in a borough that is in desperate need for cash. And to be honest I think it all looks nice - the Central station development, the arcade and no doubt I'll like the South Grove development - you may look down on me but it goes to show that people's design tastes differ. I often find that much of the shouting is done by the affluent folks which has a pinch of unintended elitism. Well done LBWF for taking the steps to move Walthamstow forward. Keep it up!
Debbie I've lived here since 1976 (moved here immigrant when I was 1). I went to local schools and even recollect playing football in a patch of land before the shopping centre was built. I loved Walthamstow before it became fashionable to love Walthamstow lol. I agree with you the whole arcade thing was a balls up of the highest order - I can't believe that they knocked it down in 1999 and it took 14 years for anything to happen (all that lost revenue, jobs, etc etc). Yet we can't be shackled by the past and should always look at what is best for ALL in the future. The income brought in by all these developments (rates, council tax etc etc) will be most welcome in a borough that is in desperate need for cash. And to be honest I think it all looks nice - the Central station development, the arcade and no doubt I'll like the South Grove development - you may look down on me but it goes to show that people's design tastes differ. I often find that much of the shouting is done by the affluent folks which has a pinch of unintended elitism. Well done LBWF for taking the steps to move Walthamstow forward. Keep it up! AC1975

9:51am Fri 6 Dec 13

TTMAN says...

I loved Walthamstow before it became fashionable to love Walthamstow

Breaking news, there are people out there who love E17. I was born there I worked there 40 years but have the sense to live north of the Mount.
I loved Walthamstow before it became fashionable to love Walthamstow Breaking news, there are people out there who love E17. I was born there I worked there 40 years but have the sense to live north of the Mount. TTMAN

12:15pm Fri 6 Dec 13

stickmanny says...

Hi AC1975

We need local business in this development but I agreed with what you say.

You shouldn't mention you're an immigrant though, as half the people here will think you've no right to speak, or even be.
Hi AC1975 We need local business in this development but I agreed with what you say. You shouldn't mention you're an immigrant though, as half the people here will think you've no right to speak, or even be. stickmanny

6:44pm Fri 6 Dec 13

mdj says...

'The planning officer on South Grove has no experience what so ever in planning and design. Basically it's an admin role'

This is almost unbelievable: if it wasn't this council I'd think it WAS unbelievable!
Our officials engage in lengthy prenegotiations with big applicants. In some cases, with such good effect that at the planning meeting it's impossible to tell them apart!
For these people not to be able to hold their own on the basis of professional knowledge would surely taint any decision based on their advice with valid claims of maladministration?
'The planning officer on South Grove has no experience what so ever in planning and design. Basically it's an admin role' This is almost unbelievable: if it wasn't this council I'd think it WAS unbelievable! Our officials engage in lengthy prenegotiations with big applicants. In some cases, with such good effect that at the planning meeting it's impossible to tell them apart! For these people not to be able to hold their own on the basis of professional knowledge would surely taint any decision based on their advice with valid claims of maladministration? mdj

7:37pm Fri 6 Dec 13

bishbosh says...

@ac1975 been to the Stow recently..have a look..its really great what's happening
@ac1975 been to the Stow recently..have a look..its really great what's happening bishbosh

4:30pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Pogle57 says...

Are planning applications ever refused in Walthamstow?....
Are planning applications ever refused in Walthamstow?.... Pogle57

4:51pm Mon 9 Dec 13

TTMAN says...

Yes thenyou go down the M4 to Bristol and they turn it around.
Yes thenyou go down the M4 to Bristol and they turn it around. TTMAN

9:57pm Mon 9 Dec 13

mdj says...

TTMAN wrote:
Yes thenyou go down the M4 to Bristol and they turn it around.
...but you can never appeal against the grant of permission; funny, that.

But there is recourse for this decision to be called in for consideration by full Council. Is anybody on to this?
[quote][p][bold]TTMAN[/bold] wrote: Yes thenyou go down the M4 to Bristol and they turn it around.[/p][/quote]...but you can never appeal against the grant of permission; funny, that. But there is recourse for this decision to be called in for consideration by full Council. Is anybody on to this? mdj

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