Fourth time unlucky: Developer fails in bid to turn Victorian South Woodford house into flats

Residents have fought off an application to demolish a 130-year-old Victorian house for the fourth, and maybe final, time.

On Tuesday, Redbridge Council’s planning committee voted against proposals to turn Bedford House, Bedford Road, South Woodford, into eight flats, following a four-year battle by residents.

Cllr Richard Hoskins, who has been involved since the beginning, said: “Congratulations to the team of local residents who stood out against a developer’s plans to knock down a perfectly sound home and replace it with another block of flats.”

LJ Construction, Southend-on-Sea, has made three previous applications for the site, which were turned down by Redbridge Council and the planning inspectorate.

Cllr Hoskins said: “When the fourth application came in, Redbridge planning officers told the planning committee they should pass the plan as the last refusal was based on a technicality.

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“I refused to go along with the officers’ recommendation and the committee backed me by a wafer thin majority.”

The inspectorate agreed with councillors that the site could not accommodate a development of eight flats without harming the surrounding area.

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Cllr Hugh Cleaver said: “This final decision has made it very difficult for the developer to get his application approved for the number of flats they want to build.

“I am very pleased with the decision as I was not happy to hear about the plans and I am glad the inspectorate took on board the concerns of residents living on the road.”

LJ Construction owner Lee Jose said: “This application has been ridiculous. We consulted with the council for 18 months and they recommended the plan twice, but it got turned down both times. Last time we were only turned down on a minor point so we decided to keep the plans the same; we have wasted a fortune on this. We won’t reduce the number of flats because we are well within government guidelines.”

The company will be seeking legal advice.

Mr Jose added: “It’s silly. The house is old, has a huge carbon footprint and has been altered several times before. The street has had many changes and therefore our plans would not be altering the look of the area.”

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