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The Central Parade development near Walthamstow Central Tube Station was given planning permission this week despite objections from local residents and councillors’ concerns.
The derelict garages behind the Grade II listed building on Hoe Street will be demolished to make way for a five-storey tower containing 19 flats and commercial space.
The south-western corner of Central Parade, currently empty commercial spaces, will be turned into two four-bedroom flats, to be available at social rent.
The application was approved on the condition, put forward by Cllr Marie Pye (Lab, Leytonstone), that the wheelchair-accessible flat be exclusively offered to disabled residents.
Cllr Asim Mahmood, speaking as an Eastfield Road resident and not in his role as councillor, said he was moved to comment because the proposed development was “absolutely hideous”.
“It’s absolutely dreadful and I would urge the planning committee, particularly as it’s a council-led development, to go back and get this looked into,” he said.
“Developers should come back, listen to what residents have said and come back with an application that will actually be supported by local residents.”
Jo Severs, another resident of Eastfield Road, which runs parallel to Hoe Street, urged the committee “to consider their duty to protect” listed buildings “for future generations to enjoy”.
She said: “I would like to see a suitable development built on this plot, however this development would cause significant detriment to local residents and the Walthamstow community.
“The proposed development will diminish this important building. It stands to reason that a taller building will be visible and will obscure some part of the clocktower.”
The Central Parade building was built in the late 1950s and is considered a historic example of the “festival of Britain” style.
Ms Severs also feared the size of the new addition will “overwhelm neighbouring residents’ properties” and increase traffic and parking problems on Eastfield Road.
Cllr Siggers (Con Leader, Valley), the only committee member to vote against the application, told the committee he “pretty much agreed with both objectors”.
He said the development “offers nothing”, is “teetering on the edge of unviability” and “is not going to give a great standard of accommodation for the people that are going to live there”.
He added: “These are going to be particularly expensive flats, I can understand why the council wants to do it but I really see very little to recommend this.”
Despite voting to approve the scheme, Cllr Pye said she has “some remaining concerns”, stating: “If we are going to provide housing for local residents, it has to be of good quality.”
Cllr Keith Rayner (Lab, Cann Hall) and Cllr Vicky Te Velde (Lab and Co-op, Wood Street), who both voted in favour, also expressed reservations.
Cllr Rayner questioned whether the development would reduce “quite significantly the open space that’s available”, while Cllr Te Velde said she “shared the concerns raised by other members”.
Although lead architect Fiona Scott was unable to speak due to technical difficulties, the council’s Deputy Planning Manager Stanley Lau insisted the development will “preserve the architectural and historical significance of Central Parade”.
He added that Historic England had been consulted and had “no objection” to the council’s plans for the listed building.
A newsletter sent to Waltham Forest residents stated the council was aiming to complete the project by the end of next year.