This is what we are fighting against – this is why we exist!

Front Garden Parking 2

Our partners at Living Streets, formally the Pedestrian Association, have undertaken an audit in a section of Ilford called the Commonwealth Estate with the aim of  promoting how it could be improved. Reading their report is a very sad experience. Ilford, with its once beautiful double fronted Victorian homes, has been destroyed over the last half century.

Parking in front gardens has lead to the removal of any green or pleasant frontages, pavements are cracked, there are no street trees and the rise of rented accommodation and absentee landlords who turn large homes into small flats has left the area scarred and barren, void of its once pleasant street scene.

This is what we are fighting against, and why the Society exists. Without the Society keeping an eagle eye on what developers are doing, it could all so easily happen to us!

The Society campaigns for good quality, and sympathetic development that seek to preserve and enhance our community. We lobby the Council for good quality public realm improvements, such a better lights and paving, and seek to aid developers and businesses with advice on how best to renovate our historic buildings.

Don’t let this happen to Wanstead. Join the Society and help support us protect our community. Wanstead is worth keeping.

How does your [front] garden grow?

Front Garden

Thinking of making some changes to the appearance of your front garden? There may be a few things to consider before sacrificing those flower beds for a new driveway.

With a quarter of front gardens in the South East now covered with non-permeable surfaces, our choice of paving for front gardens is having a greater impact on our natural and urban environment. Not only is the risk of flooding to your property and pollution in our natural waterways increased, but it can also negatively affect the street scene.

What you may not realise is that legislation is in place that requires planning permission to pave over more than 5 metres of your garden with non-permeable surfaces, such as tarmac, concrete or flag paving.

Examples of permeable surfaces that do not require planning permission are grass, pavers on a sand bed or loose gravel (exceptions may apply if you live within a conservation area).

Not only will the appearance of your house and street improve with the planting of shrubs and trees, they are important for the ongoing battle against climate change. Redbridge Council supports the planting of trees in front gardens under their Pound for Pound Scheme – so if the tree will be visible from the street, the Council may pay half the cost.

Visit the Redbridge Council website for more guidance on this legislation and ideas on how to give your front garden an environmentally friendly makeover.

Chepstow – Developers & community work together

Chepstow before demolition

Following on from our recent update on developments with the Chepstow estate, here is a joint statement issued by the Wanstead Society and the Counties Residents’ Association:

An important and positive precedent has been made, in that the Counties Residents’ Association [CRA] and the Wanstead Society have joined forces to meet with Telford Homes Plc to find a scheme which local residents would should find suitable for one of the most picturesque sites in Wanstead.

Chepstow, 49 Leicester Road Wanstead is a prime site, being situated in the Wanstead Grove Conservation Area; facing the playing fields on Nutter Lane, one of the oldest roads in the Borough.

The battle which Telford has had with local residents is well known. It began in April 2007, when 400 people signed a petition opposing their first planning application and reached a peak this year when two alternative schemes were rejected at a Public Inquiry.

Three planning applications and two public inquiries later, Telford and the two local Societies met to discuss the design of a fourth scheme, which would meet the requirements of the local community. This has resulted in a scheme which both the CRA and WS feel respects and ‘preserves’ the character of the Conservation Area and fits in with adjacent properties.

The main reasons why this scheme is regarded as acceptable by the two Societies are:
• Traditional design, keeping in with the character of the area
• Slight reduction in the overall size of the buildings
• Traditional design throughout the scheme
• Consistency of design across the whole scheme:
• The design facia of the houses on Gloucester Road are similar to the existing houses
• Some features of the house design facia have been copied on the three blocks of flats.
• The blocks of flats on Nutter Lane also reflect some of the features of the Roding Cottages, while continuing the line and style of existing buildings.

Therefore we shall be actively supporting this fourth planning application and lobbying Redbridge Council to approve this scheme.

Helen Zammett, Chair of the CRA says: “I hope that this level of co-operation between developers and the local community can be repeated elsewhere in the Borough and beyond. After all, if this had happened at the beginning, a lot of time, effort and money could have been saved. The way in which Telford has now listened to the concerns of residents and the conservation experts at Redbridge is to be commended.”

Geoff Horsnell of the Wanstead Society said: “It is really good to see that developers and the local community can work together for a common aim. It is just a pity that it has taken so long for such co-operation to be realised.”

Chepstow Update

Chepstow before demolition

Things are moving a pace with the Chepstow Estate. The LBR Planning Inspector Hilda Higgenbottam has dismissed the developer Telford Homes’ appeal for the second and third scheme submissions. She also invalidated the appeal on the first scheme on the grounds that it was given before conservation status was awarded to the area.

Unfortunately the Planning Inspector also liked the Art Deco style of the flats which local residents abhor, but rejected the appeal on the grounds that the six semi-detached houses on Gloucester Road were out of keeping with the rest of the road. A pity, because the locals like these houses. This leaves us with a quandary – any further rejections by Redbridge Council will mean that a new appeal will give significant weight to these findings, much to the dismay of local residents.

The Wanstead Society have therefore joined forces with the Counties Residents’ Association to lobby both Telford and the Council. We propose that Telford liaise with us before any new application is submitted. We have also proposed to the Council that they consider a third party arbitration approach this time. In this way, perhaps we can help steer Telford towards an acceptable design which all parties – The Wanstead Society, the Counties Residents’ Association and the Council – can support rather than object to.

We have heard from Telford that they will be submitting a new planning application which seems to address all our joint concerns. This is a victory for the Wanstead Society and Counties Residents’ Association, and it just goes to show we can make a difference.

Demolition/collapse* of 46-48 High Street

Wanstead's oldest shops have been destroyed

May 2009 saw the demise of the very old and picturesque but unlisted cottages converted to shops in the heart of the Wanstead Village Conservation Area.

These cottages were demolished/collapsed* (*read according to your views) without either planning permission or conservation area consent; permission had been granted for works to the roof and front gable only. The scaffolding was wrapped in polythene sheeting so no one could see what was going on behind. LBR have informed us that the building owner’s defence is that it fell down during the works.

The Wanstead Society have been following this case closely; below is our ensuing correspondence with LBR in an endeavour to reconsider resurrecting the prosecution and secondly in the hope that this lame approach won’t be repeated in future similar circumstances.

Whilst the correspondence is with Mr. Broad, we understand that the decisions were taken by his predecessor Emma Watson:

Our ref: E0565/09 29/06/2010
Date:  29 June 2010

Dear Mr Wernick,

Complaint in relation to 46-48 High Street Wanstead

I refer to your letter of complaint dated 26 June 2010 in relation to the Council’s decision not to proceed with the prosecution over the alleged unlawful demolition of the building at 46-48 High Street, Wanstead. Your letter contained three specific questions and I will answer each of these in turn.

1/ Expert commentary was sought and considered in relation to the structural engineer’s report prepared on behalf of the defence.
2/ No other prosecutions are to be brought.
3/ There are no plans to resurrect the case.

In terms of costs, running a case which not longer meets the evidence test set down in the code for crown prosecutors, runs the risk that in the event of an acquittal, the Court would take the view that the prosecution was brought unreasonably or even maliciously. In those circumstances an order for costs would lie against the prosecuting agency as opposed to central legal aid funds.

While I understand the Wanstead Society’s frustration at this outcome, the decision to discontinue the prosecution was firmly based on the advice of the Council’s legal team and on the desire to protect tax-payer funds against an award of costs.

Yours sincerely,

Murray Broad
Acting Head of Development Control

—————–

2nd July 2010

Dear Mr. Broad,

Re: Stage 2 Complaint concerning 46-48 High Street, Wanstead, E11

Thank you for your letter of 29/06/10.

The Wanstead Society are extremely disappointed to learn that LBR did not instruct a suitably qualified independent expert witness; providing a commentary in response is unlikely to be a substitute for an expert thoroughly investigating the matter.  Accordingly, it would seem to us that the Defendant’s testimony may not have been robustly tested.

We reply using the same numbering:
1) Please disclose the ‘expert commentary’ and defendant’s expert report.  We are disappointed to learn that no expert was appointed by LBR.  Please explain why LBR did not agree a Single Joint Expert (or a Party Appointed Expert if a single expert could not be agreed) in accordance with The Criminal Procedure Rules?
2) We will only be satisfied that this proposed (in)action is appropriate upon production of the above.
3) We will only be satisfied that this proposed (in)action is appropriate upon production of the above.
4) Surely no view can be sensibly made as to the risk of an adverse costs award without knowing the strength of the Council’s case (strong in our opinion), and in the absence of eyewitness testimony the commission of expert witness evidence is key to a case such as this.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Wernick
On behalf of the Wanstead Society