Plans for 5,400 new homes in Waltham Forest approved

Plans for up to 5,400 new homes in north-east London have been given the green light from Waltham Forest Council.

Waltham Forest councillors backed the Leyton Mills scheme at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (July 9).

The council first unveiled its plans for new high-rise developments between Leyton Station and New Spitalfields Market in August 2023.

They will comprise residential blocks between five and 17 storeys tall, as well as new sports facilities, industrial workspaces and cycling routes.

Cabinet members voted to formally adopt the Leyton Mills supplementary planning document (SPD), which will guide development in the area over the next 15 years.

Waltham Forest says the thousands of new homes will help ‘tackle the housing crisis head on,’ which has been a focus for many local authorities in the capital.

Council leader Grace Williams said the development would play “such an important part in the borough’s future” while Ahsan Khan, the cabinet member for housing, described the homes as “much-needed”.

The plan earmarks four key areas for development: New Spitalfields Market, Leyton Mills retail park, Temple Mills bus depot, and Eton Manor in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Voting to adopt the SPD does not mean plans for 5,400 homes have necessarily been approved. Developers will still need to submit planning applications, and the council will expect them to follow the SPD for guidance.

The meeting was the first under the new Labour government, which has shown early indications it will prioritise new developments in an overhaul of the current planning system.

In her inaugural speech as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves promised 1.5million new homes would be built in Britain over the next five years.

The 5,400 homes in Leyton will be built by private developers, which would prove in-keeping with Reeves’ ambitions for the country’s housing sector.

According to an earlier timetable, work would begin with 1,700 homes at the Leyton Mills retail park.

The construction of 2,400 new residences at New Spitalfields Market would then follow, after the fruit and vegetable market has been relocated to Dagenham.

Finally, the Lea Interchange Bus Garage would be turned into residential towers containing about 650 homes and a depot for electric buses.

On top of improving connectivity between the area and the rest of Waltham Forest, which the council says has been lacking, developers would also look at building a cycle bridge between Leyton Mills Retail Park and Eton Manor.

It has also proposed a new overground station called Ruckholt Road, which would join the Meridian Waters to Stratford line, operated by Greater Anglia.

The scheme will also compliment the council’s plans to improve Leyton Station, Cllr Williams told her fellow cabinet members.

Waltham Forest received around £14m in funding from Transport for London in December to build two new staircases, two new lifts, and a new ticket hall at the busy Underground stop.

Clyde Loakes, deputy leader, said the upgrades would “future-proof this station as a critical gateway to Leyton”.

During a public consultation held between March and April this year, residents emphasised car-free developments and “interestingly designed” tall buildings that don’t negatively impact the skyline or the nearby Hackney marshes.

Additionally, they wanted to see new shops like Asda and B&Q, local job opportunities, and places for young people to ‘study, hang out and chill’.

Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter