From a dope shop to a private air raid shelter, take a look at the most unusual planning applications made in Redbridge

PUBLISHED: 12:01 04 February 2019 | UPDATED: 13:46 04 February 2019

Designs for a lamppost. Photo: Redbridge Heritage Centre

Designs for a lamppost. Photo: Redbridge Heritage Centre


Redbridge Heritage Centre staff and volunteers spent almost three years cataloguing building plans into a database to make it easier to spot trends and find out new information.

A group applied for a bin. Photo: Redbridge Heritage CentreA group applied for a bin. Photo: Redbridge Heritage Centre

It might not have been the central aim, but one interesting thing to come out of the exercise was a list of unusual applications.

From a personal observatory to a dope shop, the centre, based in Redbridge Library, Clements Road, Ilford, drew up a list of the less common requests.

Paris Sydes, heritage assistant at Redbridge Heritage Centre said the service holds more than 40,000 building plans for Ilford stretching from the 1890s to 1965 and more than 11,000 plans for Wanstead and Woodford.

“Redbridge Heritage Centre is a space within the library where customers can explore the history of their family, house or local area,” she said.

Plans for a omnibus. Photo: Redbridge Heritage Centre Plans for a omnibus. Photo: Redbridge Heritage Centre

“We have a huge range of archives, maps, newspapers, photographs, building plans and online resources to discover the people, places and events in over 200,000 years of local history.

“Many customers view building plans, whether to check before they conduct any building works or just to view how the original house was and to see if any alterations had happened

“Many of the building plans we hold relate to new roads, houses, shops and alterations, but occasionally we do get the odd building plan.”

Top 10 unusual planning applications:

1) Omnibus:

Proposals for a converted bus to be parked in Silver Street (which is now Radnor Crescent ) were submitted in 1933. This plan was disapproved by the council after some correspondence between the owner and the local authority.

2) Observatory:

Plans for an observatory in Holcombe Road, Ilford, were submitted in 1916 by H. E. Adames. The plan was approved on the condition that it would be pulled down when it was “called upon”. The heritage centre said the observatory would have been located at the bottom of the garden.

3) Hen roost:

Proposals for a hen roost in Wellesley Road, Ilford, were submitted in 1899. W. J. Handley applied for the structure at a property called Oak Villa. The heritage centre said many streets in Ilford had sections which would be called a “parade” or “Oak Villas”. This is mostly the case if a builder or developer had decided to build a number of houses at once and wanted to give them a unique name. Most of these have disappeared but some do still exisit in Ilford.

4) Lamppost:

A lamppost plan was submitted by the Great Eastern Railway to the Ilford Urban District Council in July 1896 for a location in Ilford Hill. This would give passengers, who alighted at Ilford, directions to Barking and Barkingside.

5) Private air raid shelter:

Entry number five takes us to Seven Kings. An application was made for a private air raid shelter to be built at number 42 Parkway in January 1939. It was not known if resident A. W. Pearson was overly careful by nature or if he had inside information about the Second World War.

6) Bins:

Refuse bins were approved for Becontree and Goodmayes Market, High Road, Goodmayes in 1923 for the Becontree Club in Bennetts Castle Lane. This social club later became part of Winding Way, and from these plans, we can see how borough boundaries have changed over the years as now Bennetts Castle Lane is now part of Barking and Dagenham.

7) Illuminated sign:

An illuminated sign was proposed in 1923 for an optician’s at 53 Cranbrook Road. Cranbrook Road runs from Ilford along to Barkingside, and over the years, building on the street have been renumbered and changed lots of times.

8) Mast:

An aerial mast was proposed for 33 Westwood Road, Seven Kings in 1921. This plan was subsequently disapproved, but Redbridge Heritage Centre said building plans can also tell when particular types of building works were becoming popular and what trends emerged.

9) Dope shop:

Pirie Appleton & Co Ltd submitted plans for a dope shop - which is a spray painting shop -in Grove Road, Chadwell Heath in 1943. Pirie Appleton and Co were listed as a stationary making company producing envelopes, boxed notepapers, writing pads, compendiums, gift stationery, and cards.

10) Cottage:

An application was sent in for (the great sounding) Time keeper’s cottage in Grove Road, Chadwell Health. This plan was submitted by Fuller Accumulator Co Ltd in 1917. The company would make different products for buses, automobiles, trains and a variety of uses.

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