Plans to add more homes at Lea Bridge gasworks site

A developer planning to build hundreds of homes in Lea Bridge wants to increase the number of homes due to rising costs.

Developer St William, a joint venture between Berkeley and the National Grid, has planning approval for 573 homes in ten blocks up to 18 storeys high on contaminated land at the former Lea Bridge Gasworks on Clementina Road.

The company has now published a newsletter saying it plans to submit a new application for 670 homes in towers reaching up to 21 storeys.

It told residents: “Since we last presented our plans for the site, the financial viability of the scheme has been affected by very high inflation, particularly impacting the costs of materials and labour.

“Changing expectations for fire safety measures, including the need for a second internal staircase on buildings over 30metres tall, have resulted in us fully reviewing our approach to fire safety.

“Our design work shows that the site is comfortably capable of sustainably delivering more homes than the current planning consent.”

The former Lea Bridge Gasworks site

The former gasworks site is in the north western corner of Leyton Jubilee Park, bordering a residential street of terraced houses and some low-rise industrial buildings.

Berkeley won permission to build a cluster of ten buildings in 2020, including two taller towers of 17 and 18 storeys on the edge of the park, which it hopes to add three storeys to.

It also hopes to add three storeys to the six medium height blocks in the middle of the cluster.

The company expects to submit a new planning application to the council in September 2023.

Community before Construction member Ben Copsey, who lives nearby and campaigned for better management of the contaminated soil, said: With all these things the question is is this a real consultation? Probably not.

“They’ve got a plan, they know what’s going to make it profitable and as far as I can see the council is perfectly supportive of this kind of intrusive, high-rise development with pepper-potted affordable housing ghettoised into separate blocks.

“For me [a consultation] would be meaningful dialogue and responding to community concerns in a reasonable way.

“I think that was done with the gasworks in regards to remediation.

“The additional cost of that is being taken out on the park and extra storeys on the towers.”

Although inflation has had a well-publicised impact on the cost of construction, there is no legal obligation for St William to add second staircases to its building at this stage.

However, developer London Square and its partner Waltham Forest Council recently announced a similar move to add second staircases and extra storeys to two towers planned next to Lea Bridge Station.

In July last year Berkeley told residents work on the site, which included monitoring the air quality of the contaminated soils, had stopped “for the foreseeable future”.

At the time, a spokesperson for the company said it never comments on the timeline of developments and did not respond when asked whether it hoped to increase the number of homes.

For more information about the new proposals, click here: https://leabridgegasworks.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/KAN0523_-Lea-Bridge-Gasworks_Exhibition-boards_Jun-2023_v5.pdf

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter