Developers hoping to build a flat block up to seven storeys high in Chingford insist the low-rise housing demanded by residents is “not financially viable”.

Lindhill is currently consulting on plans to build 72 new flats on a site in New Road, next to the Chingford Leisure Centre.

Waltham Forest Council originally suggested the leisure centre site and woodland behind it could accommodate 310 new homes in an early version of the borough’s draft Local Plan, published in 2020.

However, after resident uproar about the loss of the green space, which borders the ancient Larks Wood, council leaders agreed last year to formally protect the land behind the leisure centre from future development.

The Chingford Leisure Centre area is now only earmarked in the draft Local Plan as a possible site for 280 new homes and this is the first scheme to come forward.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Circled is roughly the spot Lindhill wants to build its 72 homes. Credit: Google MapsCircled is roughly the spot Lindhill wants to build its 72 homes. Credit: Google Maps

During an online presentation, a member of public asked why “family homes with gardens” are not being proposed for the site, in keeping with the surrounding low-rise buildings.

Lindhill managing director Lee Fitzpatrick responded: “As much as everyone would like to see two-storey houses with gardens, it’s not financially viable to deliver this.”

He added that development costs are “rapidly going up” but that Lindhill hopes to have between a fifth and a quarter of the flats available at “affordable” rates.  

In response to concerns over whether the height would “block the view” of the nearby woods for existing residents, Mr Fitzpatrick accepted it would do so “from certain locations”.

He added: “The height and massing is in line with the [council’s] masterplan… we can only go with how we’re guided by the planning department.”

Sections of the masterplan shown during the presentation suggest this scheme is expected to be the tallest part of the Chingford Leisure Centre site as a whole, with the surrounding blocks built three to five storeys high.

Local Conservative councillor Catherine Suamarez also raised concerns at the presentation about the planned scheme being “car-free”, with 150 cycle parking spaces instead.

Mr Fitzpatrick responded: “The council are looking to promote a policy of car-free schemes moving forward and it will be advertised as-car free. 

The public can visit to find out more about the proposal.