Walthamstow resident says she was treated with contempt over noisy compound next to home

An angry Waltham Forest resident has accused the council of “utter contempt” after a noisy storage compound took over her neighbourhood’s play area last summer.

Last July, with only eight days’ notice, Waltham Forest Council’s housing repairs contractor Morgan Sindall built the compound on the concrete play area in Arkley Road, Walthamstow.

What was once a safe place to play for local children turned into an “industrial site”, according to Carole Frith, including stacked portable buildings and a generator.

Despite objections, repeated complaints and assurances that the council was looking for an “alternative suitable site”, the play area is still partly occupied now.

Speaking at a council scrutiny meeting this week, Ms Frith, 76, urged councillors to look at the “conduct and attitude” of both council and Morgan Sindall staff in response to residents’ concerns.

She said: “Residents feel they have been treated with utter contempt by both the Waltham Forest team and Morgan Sindall due to their total disregard of the impact this compound has had on those living on the Arkley Estate and in Hove Avenue.”

Complaints raised by Ms Frith included the loss of the children’s play area and the noise and fumes from the generator, which ran from midday to 4pm on most days.

She said the area’s quiet residential streets were also seeing increased traffic from work vehicles and loss of privacy from portable buildings stacked two storeys high.

Carole told the committee she felt “fobbed off” by claims the council looked for an alternative site, which she said was “blatantly untrue”.

The council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the children’s play area, which it owns, was handed to Morgan Sindall for a year to store materials for “hundreds of council tenants’ kitchens and bathrooms” across the borough, including some on Arkley Road.

Deputy leader Ahsan Khan said: “We understand this has caused residents some inconvenience. Letters were sent in advance informing them of this project.

“Using this patch of concrete allows the council to conduct the important task of improving residents’ homes. Unfortunately, we have not been able to identify any suitable alternatives.”

A complaint which Carole referred to the Local Government Ombudsman was rejected due to the council’s argument that social housing residents on Arkley Roadhad benefitted from new kitchens and bathrooms.

However, the 76-year-old said she does not know of any homes on the road that have seen upgrades from materials stored on the site and that her request for details about this have been ignored.

She also questioned the council’s claim that no planning permission was needed to install stacked portacabins on the site for a year.

Ms Frith told the LDRS that the generator, stacked portacabin, and three storage cabins have been removed in the last month.

However, some portacabins, two toilets and skips are still on site and Morgan Sindall has told residents it plans to erect hoarding for “further works” to be carried out.

Cllr Khan said: “When the site has been dismantled, we will ask for resident’s suggestions about what they would like to see on the land under our Positive Places programme.

“These could include a playground or a garden with seating and planters.”


Josh Mellor

Local Democracy Reporter