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Inspector begins dissecting Redbridge Council’s Local Plan at public meetings in Ilford

PUBLISHED: 07:00 07 June 2017

Jimmy Greaves (1966 world cup and former spurs star)  at Oakfields Playing Fields supporting the Save Oakfield Site campaign.  Pic:  Joyce Ryan, Alan Mackensie, Jimmy Greaves.

Jimmy Greaves (1966 world cup and former spurs star) at Oakfields Playing Fields supporting the Save Oakfield Site campaign. Pic: Joyce Ryan, Alan Mackensie, Jimmy Greaves.

Archant

The first day of a series of hearings that will ultimately decide whether or not Redbridge Council can build on Oakfields took place yesterday.

The deceptively named “legal and procedural requirements, spatial vision and investment and growth areas” meeting was held on the fourth floor of the City Gates Pavillion in Clements Road, Ilford.

Despite the overly-long name, the meeting was in fact the first in a 10-day long process that will see planning inspector David Smith take representations from both residents and the council on the borough’s plans to provide housing up to 2030 before making a ruling on their legality.

Giving an opening statement in defence of the plan today, a Redbridge Council spokeswoman said: “Given Redbridge’s character, local circumstances and growing needs, we have developed an approach, supported by evidence, that will be effective in meeting Redbridge’s needs in the context of the borough.

“This has resulted in the need for some sensitive issues, like releasing some sites from the green belt, to enable to council to meet its commitments to deliver much needed new homes and schools.”

She went on to insist that each part of the plan had come together as the result of “ongoing consultations and community engagement,”

A public consultation on the draft version of the Local Plan ended in October.

Oakfields’ 21 football pitches and nine cricket grounds in Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, were one of the green belt spots earmarked as a site for development, and a passionate campaign has been fought by residents, councillors and sports organisations against the proposals for the last few years.

When forced to defend the plan numerous times, council leader Cllr Jas Athwal has insisted the plan is evidence based and put together by experts to help the borough meet the Mayor of London’s demand for housing across the capital.

As the first day of hearings wore on, Mr Smith heard from Meenakshi Sharma of Neighbourhoods of Ilford South Engage (Noise), who blasted the entire consultation and appraisal process behind the Local Plan as “superficial”.

Angered at plans to continue development in Ilford South without building in other areas of the borough, Ms Sharma said: “There’s been no vigour to these proposals and no real understanding of Ilford South within any of the appraisals”.

The hearing continues.

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