Redbridge set to approve plans for 24 new flats and nursery on overgrown land in Wanstead

Plans for a major new housing scheme in Wanstead, comprising 24 flats and a nursery, look set to be approved – despite splitting opinion amongst residents.

Caerus Developments, a homebuilder headquartered in Waterloo, applied to Redbridge Council in June 2023 to build three- and four-storey blocks on land off High Street.

The top three floors will be made up of three one-bedroom, 17 two-bedroom, and four three-bedroom flats. The commercial space on the lower level has been earmarked for a children’s day centre.

The plans, recommended by the council for approval at next week’s planning committee meeting, have been hotly contested by residents.

A total of 184 formally commented on the plans: 81 objected, while 103 supported them.

Residents against the plans expressed concern about overdevelopment, as well as a perceived lack of demand for more shops and a nursery in Wanstead.

In a lengthy report, due before the committee on Wednesday, officers argued that while it may be bigger than its neighbours, it fits into the wider make-up of Wanstead and makes “appropriately efficient” use of space.

The land in question is currently overgrown scrubland, which has sat empty since two houses were demolished in the 1960s. It is not currently accessible to the public.

Caerus’ scheme will also contribute to the 1,409 homes Redbridge needs to build each year as per the London Plan.

Data from the Greater London Authority projects there are 261 children, aged between two and four, who are eligible for nursery in Wanstead. While there are 567 places available, only 7% of those are vacant.

Wanstead is better served than other areas in the borough, such as Bridge, the council says there is “still capacity” to improve.

Others felt it could “harm” the existing Christchurch Green, which is a popular spot for residents and children. The council said it intends to blend the development into the much-used park with benches and a small lake, with Caerus making a one-off payment of £360,000 for 30 years’ maintenance.

Though the authority said its consultation was carried out in line with statutory requirements and that site notices were put up, some potential neighbours felt it had been inadequate and “most residents” were unaware of the scheme.

According to the report, the 103 residents who backed the proposal – submitting a total of 110 letters – all shared the view that more housing is needed in the borough.

The council maintains that the strengths offset any potential shortfalls. A council officer wrote that “any adverse impacts from the scheme are outweighed by the public benefits” that would arise,” adding that 24 new homes would be a “significant” boost for the borough.

Once approved, work will need to commence within the next three years.

Sebastian Mann

Local democracy reporter