Former Hawker Siddeley site set for transformation

First published in News

A MASSIVE business re-development programme is planned to bring a boost to the Waltham Forest economy.

The former Hawker Siddeley Power Transformers site in Fulbourne Road has been bought by commercial property developer Lee Valley Estates.

The 9.5-acre site, soon to be renamed Forest Works, will be transformed into work units for Waltham Forest businesses, subject to planning permission.

Estate manager John Ferris said former employees would not be specifically targeted in the redevelopment programme.

Mr Ferris added that the 1930s office block at the former Hawker Siddeley plant, which is locally listed with the council, will be retained.

Waltham Forest Civic Society raised concerns last year that "unique artefacts" would be lost when the factory closed.

The council confirmed that the office and canteen block was listed in the council's Unitary Development Plan as a building of local historic and architectural interest.

However, locally listed buildings are not subject to special development restrictions and do not need special planning permission.

Michael Polledri, chief executive of Lee Valley Estates, said: "Our local economy has been hammered by the demise of manufacturing industry and the consequent loss of jobs for local people.

"Forest Works will again provide a major source of employment in Walthamstow."

Hawker Siddeley's long era finally came to an end last June as the last ever transformer to be manufactured left Walthamstow for Gretna Green.

Traffic was temporarily brought to a standstill as police cordoned off Forest Road to allow the 240 MVA transformer weighing 107 tonnes a clear route out of Waltham Forest.

More than 100 former employees went back to the Fulbourne Road site to say a fond farewell to the enormous transformer, which was driven out of the borough with a police escort bound for Scottish Power.

Speaking at the time, personnel manager Roger Watson said: "It is the end of an era. We had a really good turnout on this historic occasion. I think people have always been proud to have had a factory like Hawker Siddeley in Waltham Forest."

The Guardian reported last February that the Fulbourne Road plant, which had manufactured transformers since 1919, was to close with the loss of 172 jobs.

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