Report By Sam Adams, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.
Protesters rejoice as garage is saved
A GROUP of determined campaigners are celebrating after winning their fight to save an historic Edwardian coach house from the wrecking ball.
The future of the Cuckfield Garage in Wellington Road, off Wanstead High Street, had been reserved after the Planning Inspectorate turned down an application to demolish the building and replace it with shops and flats.
The property, which is currently used as a hand carwash, was originally built to provide stabling for horses owned by customers at the former Cuckfield Hotel, during the 19th Century.
Residents in the road joined forces with the Wanstead Society to oppose a plan by developers, Belgrave Properties, to build six apartments and commercial units on the site – which is part of the Wanstead Village conservation area.
The scheme was rejected by the council, but protesters feared the developers might win planning permission on appeal – and were relieved when the Planning Inspectorate finally turned it down.
Paul Turner, who has lived opposite the garage for 15 years, was delighted with the decision, but is still concerned about what the building will be used for in the future.
He said: "Of course I’m delighted that the building has been saved, but the question now is what they will do with it.
"It is a carwash now, and that’s fine, but it needs to be properly protected, and maybe listed.
"It is full of period features like cobbled floors and a hay loft, and we don’t want these things to be lost."
Andrew Wernick, of the Wanstead Society, said he hoped the decision would make developers think twice about applying to demolish buildings in the area.
He said: "This is fantastic news for all of the people involved in trying to stop the demolition.
"I hope this sets a precedent to stop these developers trying to make unnecessary changes to our built environment."
In his report the planning inspectorate wrote: "Even though the Conservation Area boundary does not cover the entire Cuckfield Garage site, the structure as a whole contributes to the character and setting of the area. The overriding objective is to preserve or enhance it.
"As the proposed redevelopment would conflict with that objective, there is a strong persumption against the grant of planning permission."
Belgrave Properties was unavailable for comment.
Pictured: Peter Sandy, Michele Ruffray (whose family used to own the garage), Maurice Hill, Deborah and Paul Turner and Andrew Wernick.