Approval for affordable station flats in Barkingside

Redbridge councillors greenlit an “affordable” five-storey development next to Barkingside station this week despite concerns about views into neighbours’ windows.

The plans are for 98 new flats to be built on a TfL-owned builder’s yard next to the listed tube station, which will be part-funded by the Greater London Authority (GLA) and run by Peabody.

TfL has branded the scheme “100 per cent affordable” as three-quarters of the flats will be sold as shared ownership, with the remaining quarter available for low-cost rent.

Several neighbours whose Crown Road homes border the site attended the meeting to complain about loss of privacy and limited public consultation.

Redbridge’s planning officer Andrew Smith said 16 objections had been sent in and admitted the new flats would have a direct view into existing houses, but argued an 18m gap between the buildings means this is “generally considered not significantly detrimental” in planning terms.

He added: “Most of the time people are sitting down, so you won’t look down so much towards the garden, you might momentarily stand up.”

The resident group tutted loudly in disagreement when he claimed that the ends of their gardens are “less well used”.

The group later walked out of the meeting after they were refused permission to speak as they had not applied in advance, with one man telling the committee “local residents have been ignored again”.

It emerged that, although neighbours first heard of proposals for the site in July last year, developer Vistry Group, which recently bought Countryside for £1.27bn, has been in private talks with the council since October 2021.

Documents summarising their talks show Vistry’s original proposal included a twelve-storey block at the northern end of the site.

Summarising arguments for and against the application before the committee unanimously voted in favour, a council officer said privacy concerns should be given “‘moderate weight”, while the benefits of new affordable homes should be given “substantial weight”.

Furthermore, as Redbridge Council has failed the government’s five-year housing supply targets, the committee had to apply a “tilted balance” in favour of approval when deciding on applications for new homes.

Labour member Martin Sachs said it was “essential” the committee approves any applications with new housing given the “massive housing crisis” locally.

He added: “I very much welcome the fact that this is an entirely affordable scheme at 25 percent social housing – which we have probably the most prime need for because our stock and that of housing associations is so low – it’s something we have to encourage and approve.

“It’s in the north of the borough and there’s virtually no space in the south of the borough going forward, so it’s good that we’re starting to develop the north.”

The committee also heard that the site was only earmarked for 65 homes in the council’s Local Plan, but the council agreed to allow more as housing development is “very important”.

Other benefits to the scheme include around £250,000 in Section 106 contributions towards Epping Forest, Fairlop Waters Country Park, a car club and a local vote on imposing a controlled parking zone.

An additional £63,000 will also go towards a new “NHS surgery building”, although no further details were provided.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter