Walthamstow estate expansion approved

The developer which has spent years rebuilding a Walthamstow estate has won permission to squeeze almost 150 extra flats onto the site.

Plans to rebuild most of the Marlowe Road Estate, replacing the 298 low-rise flats around Northwood Tower with 448 new homes, were first agreed in 2016.

While more than 300 of the new homes have already been built, late last year developer Countryside insisted a £10.5million “viability deficit” meant they needed to change their plans.

They submitted a new planning application that would “increase the density” at the eastern end of the estate, building flat blocks of up to eight storeys where they had originally planned low-rise housing.

The new plans were approved by the council’s planning committee on 18th July, despite 133 letters from neighbours objecting to a loss of privacy and light.

Resident Louise Wren, who lives on neighbouring Turner Road, spoke at the meeting to object to the “massive change” in designs, which added 16 metres to buildings that will overlook her home.

She said: “We get the need for affordable housing in Waltham Forest but this shouldn’t be at the expense of our quality of life or our ability to enjoy our homes.

“Communication, consultation and transparency around this application have been appalling – the council and Countryside have worked hand in glove.

“[The council] is gaining a reputation as an organisation that keeps building and building, higher and higher, without much regard for people who’ve put down roots here or local services.”

In response to previous criticism of the consultation, the council said “all local residents” were sent two leaflets advertising consultation sessions, with a webinar and a drop-in session.

However, some residents complained they had not heard about the consultation and the webinar had less than ten attendees.

Waltham Forest’s planning officers claimed the loss of light and privacy to neighbouring properties on Turner Road, Shernhall Street and Vallentin Road will be “mostly minor”.

The planning report said: “Officers note that larger buildings would be at least around 40 metres away from the site boundary nearest to the Turner Road houses and 46 metres away from the rear elevations of the Turner Road houses’ outriggers.

“This is a significant distance, far beyond what would normally be expected even between two much bigger buildings.”

The planning report described Countryside’s new designs as a “contextually sensitive approach to massing that varies across the site” and underlined the benefit of increasing “much-needed housing, including affordable housing”.

The overall share of “affordable” homes has dropped from 48 per cent in the original plans to 43 per cent, below the council’s requirements of 50 per cent.

Overall, the regenerated Marlowe Road estate will now contain 163 council homes, 13 more than in the original estate, but the total number of shared-ownership homes has tripled to 65.

Waltham Forest accepted Countryside’s argument that more affordable housing “would not be possible”, although it has refused to publish its own report scrutinising Countryside’s figures, citing “commercial sensitivity”.

The new scheme will need final approval from the Greater London Authority before going ahead.


Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter