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Construction has halted on hundreds of homes at Lea Bridge Gasworks “for the foreseeable future”, with neighbours fearing the developer wants to add more flats.
Developer Berkeley’s plans for 573 homes in blocks of up to 18 storeys tall on the former gasworks site in Waltham Forest were approved in 2020, with construction due to begin this year.
But in May, Berkeley told residents it had pulled out all of its machinery and stood down its team due to “multiple global and national issues” affecting the construction industry.
An email from the developer’s technical manager, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), said ongoing issues around “supply chains, labour availability and material prices” have worsened due to the war in Ukraine.
They added: “At present both our internal team and external team of consultants have been stood down and reallocated to other projects.”
However, resident Simon Rix, 57, said those living near the site are worried the real reason is that the two 26-storey towers being built at nearby Lea Bridge Station have set a new precedent for taller buildings.
He added: “We’re relieved that they’re not doing it at the moment but we’re also worried they may have plans for the future for taller buildings and cheaper materials.”
A spokesperson for Berkeley told the LDRS the company never makes public comments about the timetable of developments.
They said the project is still going ahead as planned and dismissed any speculation as mistaken.
Community before Construction member Ben Copsey, who lives nearby and campaigned for better management of the contaminated soil, said: “My understanding of it after reading about remediation they’re proposing… is it’s too expensive for them.
“So in my view what they are doing is taking a step back from that to say to the council ‘if you want this application to be built, you need to lower the offer of social housing or green space’.”