Last week Wanstead Lib Dems formally asked the council to scrutinise the decision to approve a new café kiosk on Christ Church Green via its external scrutiny committee

The decision by Redbridge Council’s chair of planning, Cllr Islam, to approve the decision in the face of 192 objections we feel is undemocratic. There are a number of questions the council need to address and answer:

1) Given the level of objections, why was the scheme approved behind closed doors under delegated powers and made public on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend? A similar application to demolish a home and build flats in Sylvan Road, Wanstead, which unlike Christ Church Green is not in a conservation area, was taken to a full planning committee. It had approximately 230 objections. So why not this one? What were Cllr Islam’s reasons for approving this in this way?

2) Given the level of objections and hostile feeling by local residents to the design of the scheme, why did the three Labour councillors for Wanstead Village not ask for a design rethink, pause or a full consultation on the issue? A design in keeping with the council’s own conservation area guidance should have been a starting point for this.

3) How much will the project cost? The council’s own estimate initially put it at “up to £2 million” this was then revised down to “up to £100,000” – but how much will it actually cost? Do they even know and why won’t they tell us?

4) With at least 14 places to buy a similar or same product as the proposed kiosk already existing on Wanstead High Street, what is the business case for its survival? Surely, the council can tell us in which quarter of which year they estimate the scheme will make a return on the investment? The backer of last resort is, after all, the taxpayer if this project fails. A luxury our hard-working businesses simply do not have access to.

We hope that these questions can be answered in full and at a public meeting. The democratic process has at best been rubber stamped, at worst ignored.

With little or no public oversight, the council needs to take this opportunity to answer the questions of the people who – ultimately – will end up paying for the project.

Scott Wilding

Wanstead Liberal Democrats