Spratt Hall Road

Report By Sam Adams, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.

Council under fire for not protecting street

Worried residents claim council dithering is threatening to destroy the distinctive character of one of Redbridge’s grandest streets.

Spratthallroad
Two years after the council proposed an ‘Article Four Direction’ on houses in Spratt Hall Road, Wanstead, which would give them more protection than those on any other street in Redbridge, it has still to be implemented.

The direction would stop residents making alterations which undermine the street’s Victorian appearance, and leave householders having to apply for planning permission for even minor changes, such as replacing roof tiles and windows.

Andrew Wernick, of the Wanstead Society, said the delay has already allowed some residents to make unsightly alterations to their houses.

He added: "Spratt Hall Road is one of Wanstead’s most architecturally important streets and deserves extra protection.

"It is part of a conservation area, but this doesn’t really give it much protection, as residents are still free to make smaller alterations such as paving over their front gardens and replacing slate roofs with concrete tiles, without needing planning permission.

"These cnanges make a big difference to the look of the road, and that’s why I asked the council to give it extra protection two years ago, which they agreed to, but still haven’t put into force.

"The character of this road, and of the area of the whole, will remain at risk until the council takes the action it said it would."

These views were backed by Spratt Hall Road resident, David Whittingham, who slammed the council for taking so long to act.

He said: "Most residents believe the road needs more protection than it does at the moment, and it’s about time the council put its money where its mouth is and addresses this."

A council spokesman said: "While the potential for an Article Four Direction was flagged in the conservation area character appraisal for Wanstead Village in March 2006, this approach as part of the broader preservation and enhancement scheme was only formally agreed by cabinet in May 2008, ie it was not agreed to two years ago, merely proposed."

Shopkeeper of the Year

Report By Sam Adams, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.

WANSTEAD’S last remaining butcher has been recognised for his service to the community, nearly 40 years after he first entered the trade.

Dennisbutcher

Stephen Alsop joined AG Dennis, in the High Street, as an apprentice in 1967, and has owned the business for the past 20 years, during which time he has seen the area’s five other butcher shops close down through lack of trade.

The 55-year-old spoke of the difficulties faced by small traders across Redbridge, when he was presented with the Wanstead Society (WS) Shopkeeper of the Year Award, on Thursday, September 27 2007

He said: "I am proud to have survived all this time, particularly when you think how many of the other butchers around here have disappeared.

"We have remained open because we moved with the times and offer higher quality products which are hard to find in supermarkets.

"It’s true that supermarkets have undercut a lot of local traders, and put many of us out of business, but it’s the sky-high rental rates in Wanstead High Street that are the biggest problem."

Mr Alsop, who hopes to see his son, Stephen Jnr, take over the business when he retires, attributes much of his success to the shop’s former owner, Leonard Dennis, who trained him as a teenager.

He said: "Mr Dennis was one of the last of the gentlemen butchers, and taught me to take pride in what I do, and to go that extra mile to give the customer what they want."

WS vice-chairman, Jack Figg, who presented the award, praised Mr Alsop for his efforts, and called on the council to do more to support small businesses in Redbridge.

He said: "Shops like AG Dennis are the life-blood of this community, and it is vital that everything possible is done to ensure they are able to continue to provide a unique and personal service for us all."