Large development on Redbridge green space “unlikely” says council officer

Fears that a “large development” could be built in Redbridge’s largest green space have been deemed “very unlikely” by a senior council officer.

Redbridge Council plans to almost double the size of Fairlop Waters Country Park over the next decade by reclaiming land previously used as a quarry.

A report on the expansion published in February raised concerns after suggesting the larger park could be home to a “larger venue”.

Last night, the council’s head of regeneration Sharon Strutt reassured councillors there are no “large scale commercial developments” planned “at the moment”.

She told the council’s overview committee: “This is a country park first and foremost, we need to be respectful ​​of the fact that it is a country park.

“Yes, there are activities that are going to take place, but the largest part of this is actually the natural environment and making sure that is a draw for people – it’s not about putting a commercial development in there.

“It’s very unlikely something like a hotel itself would be an appropriate feature, we need to be very aware of its greenbelt status.

“It’s the start of nature conservation, everything we have to fit into the future Fairlop Waters, we need to make sure we are mindful of all of those things that will shape and guide anything physical that goes into the park as well.”

Strutt told the committee the Fairlop Outdoor Activity Centre has now reopened, while the 140-acre golf course is expected to stay closed and is quickly “rewilding”.

Informal public consultation sessions – dubbed “co-designing” – have been carried out by a group of 35 residents and 17 local “advisors” with local or specialist knowledge.

Led by consultants Streetspace, the group have voted for short term “test projects” including an adventure trail, benches and tables, signage and an open air cinema.

Council leaders expect receive a business case and market assessment on the project by March next year.

A report to be recommended to cabinet tomorrow states: “Development of the masterplan will also be informed by a commercial market assessment to ensure that any changes proposed within the masterplan are financially sustainable.”

Redbridge’s arm’s length charity, Vision RCL, that manages Fairlop Waters Country Park, is advertising for businesses to take over the boat hire and high ropes facility.

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter