Little Gearies development plans pass following hours of discussion over Barkingside estate

Little Gearies plans pass

Plans to redevelop the Little Gearies estate in Barkingside passed at last night's (January 20) Planning Committee Meeting. - Credit: Google Maps

Controversial plans to redevelop the Little Gearies Estate in Barkingside have been given the go-ahead following protracted discussions at a council planning committee meeting. 

Committee members approved the application last night (January 20) in accordance with the officers' previous recommendation.

Therefore, the first of a two-phase plan to build 103 new homes - all of which are to be affordable - will begin in March.

A number of issues, all of which featured in the 144 objections made against the scheme, were raised by Redbridge councillors in the lengthy session. 

Cllr Gurdial Bhamra (Lab, Clayhall) questioned Kathryn Williams, who presented the proposal, on how the scheme will address the anticipated parking issues. 

Ms Williams responded: “I think the parking situation on the estate will improve because the estate will be managed properly.” 

The development intends to provide 86 new spaces, which, at less than the total of new homes to be built, has caused concern amongst objectors.

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Parking was also addressed in the speech given by applicant Amir Ramezani, who acknowledged that it was a recurring issue throughout the consultation process.

Citing undesignated spaces, outsiders parking on the estate and verge parking as the three current issues, Mr Ramezani said his scheme solves all but one of those problems.

What can't be remedied, he said, is outsiders parking on the estate: "This will only be solved by controlled parking of some description."

Such a possibility was ruled out by Cllr Martin Sachs (Lab, Barkingside) in his contribution to the debate. Cllr Sachs - speaking on behalf of fellow ward councillor Khaled Noor and Ilford North MP Wes Streeting - stated that plans for controlled parking in Barkingside were "pushed back by four years at least" at last week's council cabinet meeting.

Cllr Sachs, as with all members of the committee, believes in the necessity of development in Redbridge.

Pledging that the "Barkingside ward will make its contribution", his issue lay in what has become a swollen proposal.

The original plan was to build 30 new homes, a scheme which had the support of both Cllr Sachs and key dissenting voice Louisa Rodwell.

One of the meeting's public speakers, Ms Rodwell bought her flat 10 years ago after her grandmother died.

She said: "Little Gearies has always been a lovely place to live, with open green spaces for families to mix, children to play and form good friendships.

“What you are creating is a concrete jungle, a ghetto, at a time when green space has never been more important. 

“We accept there is a need for additional housing, which is why no one had any issue with the original proposal of 30 homes."

The expansion is where much of the disagreement lay, with Cllr Paul Canal (Con, Bridge) calling the plans "a version of Long Kesh". 

He lamented the 103-home scheme, criticising previous refusals as the reason why there is such pressure to meet housing targets: “This committee has backed itself into a corner by turning down larger developments, including Sainsbury’s. If we had said yes to those we would be several hundred houses nearer to the target." 

Arguing that Little Gearies residents are "being abused" by this "failure", he was amongst the most vocal objectors to the scheme.

Another issue with the proposal centred on how it would affect sunlight exposure. 

In her speech Ms Rodwell argued that "at least" 40 windows fail the Vertical Sky Component test (a measurement of how much visible sky can be seen from the mid-point of a window) used in development decisions. 

Ms Williams addressed this in an earlier query put to her by Cllr Canal, stating that with all factors considered the report concluded "the proposal is acceptable in terms of daylight and sunlight".

Councillors in favour of the development cited its importance to Redbridge fulfilling its aim - as per the housing strategy 2017-2022 - to build 1000 new affordable homes.

Cllr Varinder Singh Bola (Lab, Cranbrook) said this scheme will give people "a roof over their head in Redbridge”, while Ayodhiya Parkash (Lab, Mayfield) argued that this “quality housing” will help relieve the borough's temporary accommodation burden.

Committee chair Cllr Jyotsna Islam concluded by declaring the application successful, with only two dissenters - Cllr Canal and Cllr Michael Duffell (Con, South Woodford)).