AN APPEAL has been lodged against Boris Johnson's decision to approve controversial plans to turn Walthamstow Stadium into a housing estate.

The Mayor of London backed London & Quadrant's (L&Q) controversial proposal to build a 294 homes on the Chingford Road on Tuesday.

However, campaigners who want dog racing to return to the site have submitted a challenge to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles this morning (November 1).

Save Our Stow campaigner Ricky Holloway said: "There's a lot of problems with the plan and we've submitted an appeal on those grounds. There's a compelling case for Eric Pickles to address. We've got over 60 areas we'll be appealing on."

Those include the density of the development, the lack of affordable housing, and a traffic report which Mr Holloway claims is out of date.

He also claimed the mayor's report had not addressed millionaire Bob Morton's alternative plan, which he claimed would create 500 jobs - and said the report failed to explain where L&Q's 250 jobs would come from.

Chingford MP Iain Duncan Smith blasted Boris Johnson's decision and is set to meet with Eric Pickles tomorrow to discuss the issue.

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy has also pledged to lobby Mr Pickles.
The two have been highly critical of L&Q's handling of the site, which has been left derelict since it closed in 2008.

They have called for alternative proposals to be considered, claiming the community is largely against the development of the stadium.

However, Mr Pickles told the Guardian this morning that his intervention would be out of the ordinary.

He said: "I have a completely open mind but it would be unusual were I to step in. I can only go on the basis of planning issues."

Boris Johnson said the stadium was an acceptable loss considering the benefits the development would bring the area, including a £1.75 million grant for improved facilities at the nearby Waltham Forest Pool & Track.

He also said no viable alternative for the site had been put forward. Speaking to the BBC this morning, Mr Johnson called the possibility of having a dog track "moribund" and said had he refused the application, he would have been overruled on appeal.

The Mayor had previously expressed concern at the viability of the development, with L&Q facing a large short-term loss which campaigners say would be offset by taxpayers' money.

L&Q maintain there would be no losses in the long-term.

The plan was initially approved by Waltham Forest Council in May.

Andy Rowland, a director at L&Q, said: “We are pleased that the Mayor of London has allowed our proposals for the Walthamstow Stadium site. We now look forward to beginning work as soon as we can, subject to meeting the remaining conditions in the planning process.

“We will build 294 much-needed, high quality homes for people on a range of incomes. Our scheme will bring £50m worth of investment into the borough, including £3.8 million to improve local leisure, education, health and transport facilities.

"This will preserve the architectural heritage of this iconic and historic site for the whole community. Our plans will also create up to 250 jobs, including many apprenticeships and training opportunities for local people.”