Walthamstow garage houses plan rejected as “a step too far”

Plans to squeeze five new two-bedroom homes between the back gardens of two rows of terraced houses were deemed “a step too far” by Waltham Forest Council.

On Tuesday, the council’s planning committee refused permission to build on land, currently occupied by garages, between Livingstone Road and Clarendon Road in Walthamstow.

While many councillors said they supported the principle of building on disused lots of this kind, they felt the tight fit would create an unpleasant environment for both current and new tenants.

Committee chairwoman Cllr Jenny Gray (Lab, Leytonstone) said: “I’m a real fan of developing garage sites. However, we have got to make sure that we build something of quality.

“There’s opportunity to develop this site but I think maybe this is a step too far. If there were fewer dwellings or if they were only single-storey… I do not think there would be an issue.”

Amanda Squire, who lives in one of the homes that backs onto the site, told the committee that most of her neighbours were “strongly opposed” to the design proposed.

She argued their gardens, which are “a sanctuary” to residents living in a busy area, would be overlooked by the new tenants and felt the design did not suit the largely Victorian area.

She said: “I really value the historical heritage of Walthamstow and I’m really upset that the council seem intent on destroying it with all the building work that’s going on.”

Ward councillor Liam Lyons (Lab, Forest) also spoke at the meeting, arguing the plans were unacceptable given “the loss of light, the extra noise and loss of view” that would result.

Committee member Cllr Marie Pye (Lab, Leytonstone) also said she was “usually quite a fan” of building on garage sites but worried there was “a compromise too far being made”.

She said: “This is a very constrained and strange site. There are an awful lot of non-opening windows… and all the proposed developments fall short of outer space requirements.

“I do not think anyone should have to have a one-metre deep window-sill just to stop them looking into their neighbour’s garden.”

A report prepared for the committee by officers argued the impact on existing residents “would not be unreasonable”.

It added: “The benefit of providing five additional residential dwellings is considered to outweigh the minor additional impacts.”

The committee voted unanimously to reject officers’ recommendations and refuse the scheme.

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter