PLANS to cut down trees, concrete over green space, and an emergency landing pad to build new homes have been approved.
Residents of Old Mill Court in Chigwell Road, South Woodford, have been fighting against Redbridge Council proposals to build two blocks of flats on their doorstep since last summer.
The neighbours collected over 200 signatures for their petition against the plans, which they claimed will “destroy their community and come at their expense”.
But despite their efforts, the council’s proposals were given the green light at a regulatory committee meeting at the Town Hall last night (February 16).
The development has been watered down since it was first presented, now proposing 26 affordable flats instead of 31, two of which are wheelchair accessible.
The first block of 15 flats will sit at the front of Old Mill Court, looking onto Chigwell Road, while the other 11 will be located at the back of the estate, concreting over existing green space used for community get-togethers and air ambulances attending serious accidents at Charlie Brown’s Roundabout.
Conservative Cllr Karen Packer asked the committee: “Have we actually told the air ambulance they won’t be able to land on the site anymore?
“That field is also used for barbecues, fetes and community events.
“This is a beautiful estate and we are taking away a lot from them, which is what I’m really worried about.”
The council officer presenting the plans replied: “We might not be meeting amenity space targets in terms of quantity, but what we are providing is of a very high quality.
“We’re under no legal obligation to provide an alternative landing space for air ambulances, but we propose Oakdale Junior School, Woodford Green Tesco car park, or Roding Valley Park.”
Councillors were unconvinced landing a helicopter in a busy children's playground or supermarket car park was a safe alternative.
Cllr Packer also expressed concerns over the lack of lifts in the new blocks.
She added: “If there are no lifts, these obviously aren’t going to be homes for life.
“Everyone living there will get old eventually and inevitably need a lift.
“What’s going to happen then?”
The officer said the “small number” of residents in each block would make the cost of maintaining a lift too much of a financial burden.
Gareth Davies, member of the Old Mill Court Action Group and resident of over 10 years, slammed the plans as “fundamentally flawed”.
He said: “The proposals treat Old Mill Court like an empty site, but it’s not, we live here.
“They should include a complete overhaul of our existing run-down facilities, but they don’t.
“Instead they demonstrate a total disregard for the people already living there.”
Redbridge cabinet member for housing Cllr Farah Husain implored her colleagues to consider how the development will help solve the borough’s housing crisis.
She said: “We have 2,000 families waiting in temporary accommodation and the average wait for a two-bedroom council home is eight years.
“This is one of eight developments across Redbridge that will provide 151 affordable homes to help solve our crisis.”
But Cllr Michael Stark said: “This ‘they’re affordable homes so they’re okay regardless’ line is one Redbridge planning seems to be taking more and more.
“That really worries me.
“This development’s shortfalls are not minor, they are very serious, which is why I cannot vote for it.”
With a minor amendment, the proposals were voted in by six votes to five.