A RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION is “gobsmacked” at plans to house homeless families next to one of London’s major pollution hotspots.

Members of the Maybank Community Association (MCA) and South Woodford Society have expressed major concerns about proposals to build 151 temporary housing units next to Charlie Brown’s Roundabout, after they emerged last week.

South Woodford Society chairman Nicky Tranmer met with MCA members last Monday (August 22) to discuss the plans for 120 Chigwell Road outlined in the Redbridge Local Plan 2015-2030. 

The mother-of-four who has lived in the borough all her life said: “We only found out about this when the businesses on the site were given notice to leave.

“I was absolutely gobsmacked when I heard what they are planning. It’s inappropriate on so many levels.

“It’s right next to Charlie Brown’s Roundabout, which has pollution levels four times as high as Oxford Street.

“More importantly, there just isn’t the infrastructure to support these homes.

“If they are homeless, these families are going to be very vulnerable, so they need school places for their children and doctors surgeries, but there is nothing planned to accommodate those needs.”

Ian Gardener, who has lived in Crescent Road, South Woodford, for 68 years, says Redbridge Council seems to have a “cavalier attitude” when it comes to meeting housing targets.

He said: “We are not against development, but the Local Plan says all developments should be sympathetic to the surrounding area.

“This is unsympathetic and inappropriate for several reasons.

“First and foremost the pollution levels are terrible – under a busy slip road is not where vulnerable families should be living.

“But also we are already hugely stretched for school places, doctors surgeries and parking in the area. 

“They say the housing units are only temporary, but where will these families go in the long term? We just cannot cope without more infrastructure.”

Liberal Democrat Cllr for Roding Gwyneth Deakins said she was not against the development “in principle”, but the contentious site is “far from ideal”.

She added: “We are in a state of housing crisis and nimbyism is not an option.

“But this does raise ongoing concerns about the chronic lack of infrastructure we have to support existing and future residents in Roding.

“Housing people next to Charlie Brown’s is far from ideal, but if they do move them there, efforts need to be made to tackle the dangerous pollution levels.”

Former Conservative Cllr and MCA member Tony Loffhagen says the area “cannot cope with any more housing.”

He said: “The Government has given our council housing targets they just can’t meet, so they’re building anywhere and everywhere.

“This is an inappropriate site for housing families and especially children.

“Are we going to see a rise in anti-social behaviour if they move in? There are multiple concerns here."

The Redbridge Local Plan is currently out for consultation before it goes to the planning inspectorate later this year.

Residents have the chance to give their feedback on proposals for 16,845 new homes in the borough both online and by post.

But the two resident groups are unimpressed by the council’s consultation process.

Ms Tranmer said: “These plans are just being given to South Woodford.

“They say they are consulting but we only found out when we heard the businesses were being forced to move.

“People need to know what’s going on in their area and engage with the Local Plan otherwise South Woodford will change forever.

“This proposal is just one example of what the council wants South Woodford to look like – like Ilford, but without enough services to support people.”

A Redbridge Council spokesman said: "The council is committed to increasing the supply of permanent and temporary affordable housing in the borough to meet housing need.

"We are therefore intending to use part of the Chigwell Road site situated furthest from the flyover and adjacent to existing housing to provide much needed temporary accommodation for homeless families.

"Mitigation measures to address the impact on local infrastructure, air quality and flooding issues will also be included in the proposals and assessed as part of the planning application process. 

"We also recognise the importance of ensuring the necessary community infrastructure is in place to support future growth.

"The emerging Redbridge Local Plan is supported by an infrastructure delivery plan.

"This provides a basis for on-going coordination with council service areas and other infrastructure delivery partners to plan positively for the provision of new schools, health facilities and community facilities to support the growth envisaged in the Local Plan."