Concern that Walthamstow homes plan ‘would create metaphorical poor door’

Plans to build almost 600 homes on the former Homebase site in Walthamstow risk segregating rich and poor, councillors have warned.

Inland Homes, who hope to build 583 new homes on Fulbourne Road in blocks of up to 18 storeys, met with the planning committee on November 3 to discuss their designs.

Residents have already protested against the development, which they argue is too large, will put too much pressure on local services and makes little sense for a post-Covid world.

In response to concerns, Inland Homes say they have reduced the number of homes and lowered the height of buildings and are “still working hard” on other issues raised.

At the meeting, Cllr Marie Pye (Lab, Leytonstone) asked why the plans only include around 200 affordable homes, with less than 120 of these for rent rather than “shared ownership” homes for sale.

Cllr Marie Pye (Lab, Leytonstone) said: “We do not really think shared ownership is particularly affordable for the demographic in our borough.

“We want to max out the affordable rent really, the people on our (housing) waiting list are not looking for shared ownership, they are waiting to rent.

“It would be interesting to know what minimum income would be able to purchase a one bed home.”

She also argued plans to group affordable units together, separating them from the more expensive homes, would create a metaphorical “poor door”.

She added: “It’s not acceptable, we need to have people who are socially renting living next to private renters so their kids get to know each other and they live in inclusive communities.”

Inland Homes spokesperson Ben Johnson said the scheme “actually can only deliver” 22 per cent affordable homes but they “have committed to deliver 35 per cent” in order to be “fast-tracked” by the Greater London Authority.

Another representative for the developer added the affordable homes would have “the same facilities as other buildings” and were in a “fantastic part of the scheme”.

In the lead up to the meeting, Walthamstow residents have raised concerns that the plans, combined with a number of other nearby developments, will put too much pressure on the area.

Max Carter, 59, said: “All of this was planned before Covid-19 and we are now looking at quite a different world.

“The policy of just building very high tower blocks near transport hubs is out-dated. Will everybody be wanting transport into central London (after Covid)? Probably not.”

He added the design “was not in keeping with the surrounding area”, which is more low-rise, and that buildings above 10 storeys could pose problems for the local fire service. 

The designs submitted include six blocks of 10 or more storeys. New fire safety legislation inspired by Grenfell and expected next year focuses on any building with more than five.

Mr Carter added: “We understand we do need more housing in Waltham Forest, it’s just this is the wrong sort of housing. They should have a rethink based on the world we find ourselves in.”

It is expected the planning committee will meet to make a formal decision on the plans in December.

Residents can view the plans at: https://planning.walthamforest.gov.uk/planning/search-applications?civica.query.FullTextSearch=fulbourne%20road#VIEW?RefType=APPPlanCase&KeyText=202512 and express their views by emailing: [email protected] quoting reference number 202512.

A protest against the development outside The Mall Walthamstow on October 24. Photo: Max Carter
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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter