In the apparent absence of any other on-line "community forum", this blog can be used as a medium for people to share views on the proposals. For full details of how this could work, see the footnote at the end of this article.
|Most of the shops and buildings|
covered by the proposal
London Iron Works (LWI) is a medium sized east London-based firm of developers who have worked up proposals for the redevelopment of this small stretch of Woodgrange Road. They have nothing to do with the much larger and controversial plans put forward and then abandoned by Obsidian four years ago.
LWI held two consultation evenings on 21 and 22 March at Durning Hall. We attended, as did many others. Helpful staff from the developers were on hand to answer questions, and as far as we could discern, they were very open and honest about the challenges and opportunities the proposals present.
We have no vested interest, whatsoever, in the outcome of the consultation, although, for the record, were impressed by the proposals. Let that, however, not inhibit those with alternative views from sharing their thoughts, below.
There are currently 12 retail units affected by the proposal. They, and the accommodation behind, would be demolished. The accommodation is largely officially vacant, although it is believed there are a number of squatters in situ.
The proposal would be to "revitalise" the shops. There would be no guarantee of tenure for the existing shops in the new development, and in any case they would have to close or move for at least 12 - 15 months around the rebuilding period (see anticipated timescale, below).
|Artist's impression, from the south|
Rents in the new shops will be considerably higher than those currently paid by the present occupiers. This is likely to be a significant issue for Barry's, the butcher, for example.
The proposal is to construct around 60 residential units. The exact mix will be subject to negotiation between developer and the council. It would, for example, be in the financial interests of the developer to only build one-bedroom flats for sale.
The council, however, will wish to see some larger properties (2 and 3 bedrooms) to ensure a good demographic balance of families, singles etc in the development and also to guarantee that there is an appropriate mix of social and owner-occupied properties. The developers accept this, and negotiations between council and developers will determine the final outcome mixture.
|Artist's impression, from Earlham Grove:|
flats on far right of drawing representation
of separate development plan - see text
All, or almost all, units will have balconies, most of which will be south facing.
There will be some recreational space (roof gardens etc) in the development and provision for cycle parking.
There could be some consequential modifications to the local road lay-out and this will doubtless feature in the mix of negotiations between the developer and the council.
As mentioned above, London Iron Works, the developers are an east-end firm specialising in medium size developments, like this one, that aim to fit in with local community needs and are empathetic to the local architecture (so no 19 storey building proposals, here).
They are working with Newham council on other developments in Manor Park - near the railway station and in East Ham, in what was the old Co-op site (the car park next to the Denmark Arms).
|Artist's impression, from corner of Hampton Road|
Although they aim to be empathetic with Victorian architecture, they are building in and for the 21st century, so will not seek to replicate 1880s buildings. In trying to be sympathetic, they will pay due regard to the local skyline, and brick work, for example.
Little is known about what is likely to happen to the former "Obsidian lands", although it is inconceivable, with the imminence of Crossrail, there will not be significant development proposals coming along soon.
It does seem likely that there will be a development, built around the same time as this Woodgrange Road one, a little behind it in Earlham Grove. It will be in the land boarded by blue hoardings, between Barry's and the Community Garden.
|Artist's impression: front elevation|
We understand that London Iron Works was interested in developing this too, but found negotiations around acquisition and planning extremely difficult. Instead, it would appear that the Council-back and owned Red Doors company is likely to do the construction and Swan Housing, who effectively run the council's outsourced housing management function, will operate the development.
We idly ask whether these council "insiders" found negotiating life for the plot as difficult as London Iron Works seemed to. You may smell a rat, we couldn't possibly comment.
It is interesting, however, that although this Earlham Grove development is being advanced by those with great insight into the local authority, its ways and, presumably the local community, they have not found it desirable or necessary to seek the views of the affected public on their proposals, as London Iron Works has.
|Artist's impression of a possible floor plan|
If you would like to comment to London Iron Works directly about their proposals, the e.mail address is WoodgrangeRoad@yourshout.org. Their freefone number is 0800 458 6976.
Anticipated timescale for Woodgrange Road proposalsSpring 2016 - exhibition and local consultation
Summer 2016 - having taken consultation on board, submit development scheme for planning discussion/consent
December 2016 - planning approval, or rejection. If consent:
January 2017 - give one year's notice to quit to existing shops and tenants
January 2018 - begin construction work
Jan - March 2019 - completion of project: new owners/tenants move in.
Update - March 2017
Forest Gate North Councillor Rachel Tripp provided an update on progress with this application in her extremely good and detailed branch newsletter of 1 March 2017. It is quoted, verbatim, below. A decision on the planning application was deferred by the Council in February, because of:
Concerns about parking, but I and other members expressed a number of other concerns based on the design we saw that night, including the design of the building, the density, the lack of family accommodation and the lack of affordable housing on the site.
I am not opposed to new developments, I'm not opposed to sympathetic modern design on a Victorian high street and I think this space on Woodgrange Road is a prime site for something that offers some retail and some residential, but I was glad that this iteration of the application was deferred and hope that the developer will go away and do some more work before it comes back.Based on this, it would seem that the scheme will be at least three months behind the projected time-table outlined above, even if it is eventually approved in some form.
Footnote: using this thread as a discussion forumAt the end of this article is a Comments box. Would-be contributors are invited to post their thoughts and share them with other local people. (This site gets over 250 hits per day, so people may feel it is a good vehicle to act as a discussion forum).
If you wish to contribute, simply fill in the comments box, below. You have the option of leaving your name and or a pseudonym, or posting anonymously. Your posting e.mail address will be known by the site. We undertake to share it with nobody, if that is your choice.
At the foot of the comment box there is a check box, by ticking this, you will receive an automatic e.mail every time somebody responds to the thread of comments, and you will, of course be free to reply to those, as you wish.
We guarantee that there will be no editorial interference with responses on this forum (which was not the case on other local forums at the time of the Obsidian proposals), expect for posts which are: abusive, potentially libellous, or discriminatory on grounds of ethnicity, gender, age, ability, religion etc.
Posts that are totally irrelevant to the subject will be deleted and posts that are excessively verbose will be summarised and then only published with the explicit approval of the original contributor.
The forum will be open to those supporting and opposing the proposals . The developers, are invited to contribute and answer questions etc, should they wish; although we are anxious that this does not simply become a PR medium for them.
If this suggestion works as an effective discussion forum: fantastic. We may adopt the approach for other topics of local controversy on this site, in the future. If it doesn't work, fine!