Discrepancy over disabled spaces as developer reapplies to build flats on college car park in Ilford

Redbridge Council may take enforcement action over ‘unlawful’ disabled parking spaces on a college site that a developer hopes to build flats on.

An application to build 15 flats in two eight and five-storey towers on the Mont Rose College car park on Eastern Avenue, Ilford, was rejected by the planning committee on November 19.

Councillors argued the plans would discriminate against disabled students by reducing designated parking spaces and rebelled against officers when this was left out of the meeting’s minutes.

Developer Tareem Ltd has resubmitted the plans, providing slightly more parking for disabled students, and the new application will be discussed by councillors tonight.

A report prepared for the meeting states the council is investigating “unauthorised use of the car park” and parking is “likely to be lost in the medium term”.

It also contests the student union’s claim that there are 75 disabled students at the college and states there is “no evidence as to use of the disabled bays”.

The report reads: “Officers fully recognise the use of Montrose College by those with disabilities and the obligations the council owes to those individuals.

“There are currently 10 (disabled) spaces available… but only six would be able to be properly used as they are significantly less than the minimum required space.

“The use is in breach of planning control and likely to be lost in the medium term due to enforcement action which may be taken.

“The proposal results in a reduction compared to the on-site but unlawful situation but proposes significantly more than the college’s travel plan and more than the policy requirement.

“Officers have concluded that the proposed development makes a positive contribution to the lives of those with disabilities attending Montrose College.”

The report states that a travel plan submitted by the college in 2018 designates only two on-site parking spaces for disabled users.

The new plans provide two on-site disabled spaces for the college and an on-street bay “which would be implemented should the need be demonstrated following completion”.

There are also plans to improve disabled access to the rear of the building by installing a new step lift, which was also included in the last rejected application.

In November, planning committee members considered a letter from the Student Union of Montrose College, which stated there were 75 disabled students, 15 with severe mobility issues.

Council officers, however, state there were only 50 students “with a known disability” enrolled in the last academic year and that some may attend the college’s other two campuses.

A livestream of tonight’s meeting will be broadcast here: https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_YTk2Y2EyNjYtZWE1Ni00ZGY1LTk0NTQtY2ZlZTYxNzRlMzJm%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%222a8b2c16-2e9e-4dce-a97b-a0b34e803a22%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%222afb9571-2576-4a4a-8a39-79cf6ea0c0fb%22%2c%22IsBroadcastMeeting%22%3atrue%7d&btype=a&role=a

Councillors will also consider an application to build nine new homes in Wanstead.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter