A DECISION to approve controversial plans for blocks of flats overlooking a nature reserve looks set to be referred to the Secretary of State.

Waltham Forest Council’s planning committee this week approved an application from Sherrygreen Homes and A2 Dominion to build 124 flats in four blocks up to seven storeys high on Essex Wharf, which is within the Lee Valley Park, off Lea Bridge Road in Leyton.

This was despite objections from residents, environmental campaigners and the Lee Valley Regional Park authority (LVRP), which said the proposal was inappropriate for the location, beside the Lee Navigation canal and overlooking the Walthamstow Marshes nature reserve.

The LVRP has today confirmed that it has exercised its right to request that the decision is referred to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles.

More than 50 opponents to the scheme, including members of New Lammas Land Defence Committee (NLLDC) and Waltham Forest Civic Society, packed the public gallery during the decisive planning committee meeting on Tuesday night.

A number of people spoke in opposition to the plans, including Steve Wilkinson, of the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, who said the development was unacceptable in such a prominent position in the "unique" area.

However, an appeal against a decision to reject a previous application for a larger development on the site is still pending.

A hearing is expected to take place on January 18.

Sherrygreen Homes says a decision on whether to continue the appeal depends on the outcome of the current application.

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