Unpopular South Woodford development approved

Plans for a fiercely opposed residential development on a South Woodford trading estate have been approved.

Since 2021, residents of cul-de-sac Crescent Road have waged a coordinated campaign to block neighbouring business City Plumbing’s plan to redevelop its warehouse.

Despite their opposition, the company won permission to build a new warehouse, six new office spaces and 18 new homes on Monday (May 16).

However, approval only came after Redbridge’s planning committee took the unusual step of deferring their decision at two previous meetings.

Debating the application for the third time, the council’s planning team again tried to address members’ concerns, which included the amount of children’s play space, affordable housing, parking spaces and design.

While residents argued the development was “detrimental” to the appearance of the Victorian homes on the street, planning case officer Andrew Smith said the design was “appropriate”.

He added that City Plumbing had now offered to pay the council £253,400 towards affordable housing elsewhere in the borough, £50,000 more than it previously offered in April.

Surveyor Andrew Jones explained City Plumbing’s predicted “deficit” of at least £4.5million on the project meant it could not include more low-cost housing.

Eventually, six committee members voted in favour of the scheme while six voted to reject it, meaning the committee chair cast the deciding vote to approve.

Ward councillors Guy Williams and Lloyd Duddridge both spoke against the plans, with the former accusing the council’s planning team of trying to “obstruct [committee] members’ objections”.

Cllr Martin Sachs criticised City Plumbing for holding only two meetings with residents to address their concerns and objected alongside Cllrs Nav Johal and Jamal Uddin.

Prompting applause from residents in the public gallery, Cllr Sachs – who is also Redbridge Labour’s chief whip – said it was one of the first times he had voted against a planning application.

He added: “I’ve voted in favour of pretty well every application I’ve seen up to now, including some I did have some doubts about.

“On this occasion, this is the wrong design in the wrong place and it needs to go back to the drawing board.”

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Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter