WALTHAMSTOW Stadium is set to be turned into a housing estate after the Mayor of London approved controversial development plans.

Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that the stadium was an "acceptable" loss considering the benefits he claimed London & Quadrant's 294-home development would bring the area, including a £1.75 million boost to facilities at the nearby Waltham Forest Pool & Track.

He added: "I share the sadness of many about the demise of dog racing from this historic corner of London.

"I believe this proposal will provide a major boost for Walthamstow, creating new jobs and new homes, many of which will be affordable and attract desperately needed new investment into the area.

"No viable plan has been put forward to bring racing back."

But campaigners who have spent years battling the proposals for the site in Chingford Road reacted with anger.

Ricky Holloway of Save Our Stow, which has pushed for dog racing, accused the Mayor of overlooking a proposal from Bob Morton to build a dog track and housing.

"I'm digusted. The council has kindly helped give us another housing estate," he said.

He claimed the Mayor failed to address the viability of the plan, which L&Q bought for £18 million in 2008 but is now worth an estmated £7 million, claiming taxpayers will fund the shortfall.

Gail Penfold, chairwoman of Walthamstow Stadium Area Residents/Community Association, said people living nearby were concerned that too many houses were being built on the site and vowed to join SOS in lodging a challenge to the decision with Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

"Residents are very worried," she said.

Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith and Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, said in a joint statement they were disappointed with the decision.

A spokesman for L&Q, which said the scheme will generate profit in the long term, said: "We now look forward to beginning work as soon as we can."

The iconic frontage and the historic tote must be preserved in any new development.

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