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Calls for council to be investigated over Stow
CALLS are mounting for Waltham Forest Council to be investigated after it fast-tracked plans to turn Walthamstow Stadium into a housing estate - preventing the government from stepping in to stop it.
Conservative London Mayor Boris Johnson rubbed stamped controversial proposals to build 294 homes at the site last week after initial permission was granted by Labour councillors earlier this year.
But campaigners were clinging to the final hope and belief that the government's secretary of state for communities Eric Pickles would intervene on a planning technicality and scupper the project.
Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith and Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy both urged residents to write to Mr Pickles, saying he had 21 days to take action before the council formally acknowledged Mr Johnson's decision and issued final planning permission.
But the council then took the step of quickly issuing the paperwork within 48 hours, leaving Mr Pickles powerless to intervene.
Mr Duncan Smith is among those now calling for Whitehall to investigate the council's actions and claims that it is biased in favour of the scheme's developers, housing association London and Quadrant (L&Q).
The council has always strongly denied that it has been anything less than independent throughout the process.
In a letter to the Walthamstow Stadium Area Residents Association, council leader Cllr Chris Robbins said there had never been any indication that Mr Pickles would intervene.
He said that 48 hours was an "entirely appropriate timescale" to turn around the planning application after Mr Johnson's announcement.
He also said claims by Mr Duncan Smith and Ms Creasy that Mr Pickles had 21 days to intervene were wrong.
Cllr Robbins said: "this is not correct and there is no timescale for any possible call in after the Mayor of London's decision".
But Cllr Matt Davis, leader of the Conservative opposition group at the council, said his group were appalled by the "unprecedented" step.
He said: "It is strange that a council which is not renowned for its quickness in dealing with planning applications can suddenly discover such speed."
The residents association says a judicial review is the only step left now to stop the development. It has instructed solicitors and is looking for funding.
Mr Duncan Smith, who, along with local Conservatives has continued to criticise the decision by their party colleague Mr Johnson, is expected to issue a statement shortly.
The Guardian is awaiting a statement from the government but they said in a letter to residents that the council had acted "extremely quickly" but legally.
The Guardian is awaiting a further comment from the council.
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