Housing homeless in Hainault parks: Redbridge Council denies flouting planning regulations
- Credit: Archant
Redbridge Council has refuted allegations it flouted planning regulations by discussing proposals to house homeless families in two Hainault parks.
The council points out no planning applications have yet been submitted which would limit debate on proposed temporary accommodation schemes in Brocket Way Park and Woodman Road, near Manford Way.
A seven-strong deputation of Hainault residents attended the full council meeting at Redbridge Town Hall on Thursday, January 17 to argue why these two green spaces must be protected.
Both parks have been identified as sites for modular accommodation for 90 homeless families.
“The council was elected on a manifesto which pledged to protect the green space in our borough,” said the spokesman Sam Chapman.
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“I hope the council honours that pledge to protect these two green spaces.”
Resident Charles Awoyode estimated that about 9,000 people live in the estate near the parks and that the green spaces are important for “social interaction”.
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“Without these green spaces there will be a lot of issues with kids walking around on the street – antisocial behaviour can start happening,” he said.
Dispelling rumours that the scheme’s potential occupants would be “ex-offenders and drug users”, Hainault councillor Emmett clarified only those who have lived in the borough for at least five years will qualify.
A question from Labour councillor Ross Hatfull, asking the deputation whether there is anything that would improve the proposed scheme in their eyes, prompted an outcry from Conservative Paul Canal.
“As someone working in homelessness, I see a lot of families who suffer greatly because they have nowhere to live,” Cllr Hatfull said.
“If a development was to go ahead, is there any way you think it could improve? Such as landscaping?”
Cllr Paul Canal interjected: “Are we not straying into planning decisions here Madam mayor?”
But mayor Debbie Kaur-Thiara allowed the question.
“We are not opposed to houses at all,” Mr Awoyode said.
“It’s not about building but [rather] where you want to build – we can’t lose those green spaces.”
Speaking after the meeting Cllr Canal said: “The rules are quite clear that in full council we are not allowed to discuss planning applications.
“This is one of the basics when you have planning training and code of conduct training.
“The deputation was told they could not mention the proposed planning application.
“That Cllr Hatfull raised a planning issue and the mayor allowed it is inconsistent at best.
“It is absolutely vital that the same rules apply to councillors as to residents.
“A Labour councillor should not be allowed to flout standing orders and we shall be writing to the monitoring officer that the ruling was incorrect.”
Mr Chapman told the Recorder the deputation also felt “totally ignored” because the council did not proceed to debate the matters raised by the deputation as “is customary for them to do”.
Cllr Kam Rai clarified that there had been no breach because there wasn’t a planning application to refer
to and no question was called out of order on the night by the legal officers present.
He said: “On Thursday there wasn’t a planning application for consideration that might have limited the deputation.
“There was nothing stopping the residents from discussing matters relating to the consultation in Hainault – they were free to speak on anything they felt important, except, as with any deputation, a specific planning application.
“I am surprised someone of Cllr Canal’s experience would not know this.
He added: “The residents of Hainault should have been able to talk about their concerns, it is important they are heard, and I hope they were not poorly advised to curtail their points.”
A final consultation drop-in session on the proposed developments is set to take place today from 2pm to 7pm at Hainault Forest Community Association, in Manford Way.
Find out more about here.