Homebase hadn’t really come up much before at our meetings until a couple of months ago. It turns out that quite a few of AE17 really quite like it, and visit regularly for paint, tools and miscelaneous garden assessories. We were collectively then quite sad to hear that the site had been sold, and our trips for DIY supplies and tools were going to take a bit longer, and probably a car ride rather than a walk to the sheds on the North Circular. Nevertheless, we could see how the site might be attractive for residential development, and we were keen to see what opportunities might be developed.
In our June 2020 meeting over Zoom we had a flick through the ‘consultation’ website and information available, keen of course to find out what might be planned for the site. To cut to the chase, our response we considered returning to the consultancy running the consultation and community engagement was “we think you’ve missed a few pages off”. There were some very informative pages concerning who was involved, what the planning policy context was, the usual references to William Morris, and a lot of stuff based on an observation that Forest Road links the Lea Valley and the less forest-y part of Epping Forest. We couldn’t help but find this somewhat of a stretched starting point, given the two green spaces, whilst they do indeed nicely define the urban limits of Walthamstow, are some 2 miles apart and don’t on the face of it have much to do with the site over any other location along the Forest Road. We could not help but think that this, and the lack of any further information about the built proposals that inevitably would have been developed quite far by June 2020 when a planning application was due in August, was therefore a rather thinly disguised ploy to hide the fact that that the proposals would be controversial. Consultation? (We could not help but be reminded of the consultation for the development of the Mall, which seemed to concentrate most of all on how the remains of the public space might be landscaped).
Sure enough a month later proposals were presented in an online event, and made available for public review, and these included some dense development and buildings across the site up to 20 storeys in height. It was not clear really how the comments that had been received from the initial consultation had impacted the design decisions of the proposals.
Anyway, we were up for reviewing what was presented and submit comments, and we submitted a response to the consultation that you can find here.
And now we await a formal planning application, which is not yet registered. There is this update, which shows a few changes; storeys lopped off here and there, and some additional information about landscapng design and wall art. The fundamental comments we had are not answered; and we eagerly await the planning application to be able to actually assess the architectural proposals.