A HOUSING association could pay £1.75million for improvements at Waltham Forest Pool & Track if it builds a residential estate at Walthamstow Stadium – but English Heritage says it still has concerns.

The revelations come in a series of documents submitted to the council as it considers London and Quadrant (L&Q)'s planning application to build a 300-home complex along with a nursery and a multi-purpose gym at the site in Chingford Road, Chingford.

The organisation has always maintained that the proposed new facilities would be an adequate leisure replacement for the loss of greyhound racing at the arena, which closed in 2008.

But in a report from the mayor's office it has emerged that the council and Greater London Authority (GLA) were not convinced and have been negotiating behind the scenes to secure a pledge from L&Q of £1.75million in compensation for other facilities.

It states that: "At this stage it is expected that this contribution will be directed towards improving the council's Waltham Forest Pool and Track facility."

The report adds that the council has already drawn up a number of proposals on what to spend the money on.

Among the proposals for the Walthamstow site are a climbing wall, a youth gym, the refurbishment of the athletics track and a new sports pitch.

Rumours emerged in September 2010 that the council was secretly negotiating with L&Q to relocate facilities from Pool and Track to the stadium, but they were denied at the time.

The report also states that L&Q's plans do not fit with the mayor's 'London Plan' strategy for the capital, but that this could be overcome if further discussions are held about the viability of its affordable housing, transport and on-site leisure plans.

Meanwhile, a separate submission to the council from English Heritage includes a number of criticisms.

The conservation body does not urge the council to reject the application, but says "the local planning authority should weigh any harm against the wider benefits of the application".

Its senior historic buildings and areas adviser, Rachel Godden, wrote that while a residential development "could be a suitable future use" for the site, "we remain concerned that the height and massing of the buildings in the centre of the site impede the sense of the space as a former stadium.

"We consider that their scale is too great".

Mike Johnson, director of development at L&Q, said: “We are fully committed to bringing the heritage buildings back into long term use for the whole community and all work to do so will continue to be done in consultation with the appropriate organisations.

"We welcome all feedback on our plans and look to incorporate recommendations where possible as we progress with our planning application.

"Our plans will deliver a £50million iconic development which preserves the heritage of the site and provides around 300 new homes, a modern sports centre run by the community for the community, a children’s nursery and allotments, as well as over 250 jobs to meet the needs of local people.”

No date has been set when a council planning committee will decide on L&Q's application.

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