A plan to build a storage business on the former site of a DIY store which burned down more than two years ago has been approved.

Waltham Forest Council's planning committee gave the go-ahead to a proposal from Shurgard Self Storage for a three-storey centre on the corner of Hickman Avenue and Larkshall Road in Highams Park.

The land, currently used as a HGV driving school, was formerly the site of Focus DIY until it closed in 2011. The building was completely destroyed in a fire in April 2012.    

The surrounding area is predominantly residential, but is in a designated Borough Employment Area (BEA), with other industrial units nearby and a Tesco Superstore. 

The council received objections from 35 residents, the Highams Park Planning Group and Conservative councillor for Larkswood ward, John Moss, over concerns about traffic congestion, low-level employment and the overall design. 

Shurgard Self Storage and DMWR Architects Limited said the development, which is 9 metres high and triple the size of the former building on the site, "will improve a dilapidated site which detracts from the surrounding area and create a clean and contemporary new development on the site".

But resident and chair of Highams Park Plan's Housing and Sustainability Group, Chris Twinn, argued the architects and Shurgard need "to up their game" with the design. 

He said: "They've got away with getting permission for an enormous building in a designated zone for employment and there are only three full-time positions.

"We want real employment not one or two jobs.  

"The design itself is very poor and has the appearance of a corrugated tin shed.

"This is not the impression we want to give as the first building people see when entering the town centre. 

"The prosperity of Highams Park depends of brining in businesses, and with a development of this size, it is simply a lost opportunity." 

Shurgard's Chief Financial Officer Jean Kreusch anticpates the building work will begin in November and is scheduled for completion by the summer of 2015.