Councillors say removal of panel will put Redbridge conservation areas at risk

Wanstead Park is the largest conservation area in Redbridge. Photo credit: Redbridge Council

Wanstead Park is the largest conservation area in Redbridge. Photo credit: Redbridge Council - Credit: Archant

A heated debate is expected to take place tonight over plans to scrap a conservation panel which advises on planning applications.

Members of Redbridge Council’s Regulatory Services Committee will vote on whether to keep the Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP), prompting fears that areas such as Wanstead and Woodford will be at risk of unwanted development.

Officers have recommended to remove the CAP to “tighten” the Planning and Regeneration Service and reduce administration for officers.

Cllr Suzanne Nolan (Con, Snaresbrook) said she was “100 per cent against” the move.

“I absolutely want to keep it. It is vital in order to protect the conservation areas around the borough, in my ward, in Mayfield and in Woodford too.

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“I’m keeping my fingers crossed they will keep the panel on.”

Jim Wragg, vice-chairman of the panel, said the move was “utterly disgusting”.

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“The panel was set up to protect the character of these areas, now we have got no control over what goes on,” he said.

“The thing is once you have lost them, you can never get them back again.”

Mr Wragg is the park neighbourhood watch conservation advisory officer for the Aldersbrook conservation area.

He said without it, projects like the proposal to build a modern shopping mall in High Street, Wanstead, would be rife.

He added: “The members of the panel are not paid, they do not get expenses. We give up our time because we love the areas and want to protect them.”

The council report argued conservation societies would still be able to influence planning applications.

It states: “There would be nothing to prevent organisations that have an interest in conservation areas from continuing to submit their comments through the planning process in the usual way.

“There is no reason to suppose that conservation areas in Wanstead and Woodford would be under any particular threat as a result of this proposal.”

Out of the 16 conservations areas in Redbridge, 11 are in Wanstead and Woodford.

The meeting, which is open to the public, starts at 7.15pm at Redbridge Town Hall.

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