Redbridge Council gives decision on 42-storey building on Bodgers site

Bodgers model. Picture: Ellena Cruse

Bodgers model. Picture: Ellena Cruse - Credit: Archant

Redbridge planning committee met to discuss an application to demolish the former Bodgers shop and erect a 42-storey tower last night.

Bodgers model. Picture: Ellena Cruse

Bodgers model. Picture: Ellena Cruse - Credit: Archant

After listening to the applicant, objections from members of the public and local authority employees, nine councillors decided on the fate of the site in Station Road, Ilford.

As council meetings go, the finale was tense for everyone in the room at Redbridge Town Hall on Thursday, July 18.

Four members were against the plans and four members supported them, resulting in the chairman of the committee having to cast the deciding vote.

One councillor declared an interest in the application as her company had ties to the development but as the connection was not "pecuniary" she was allowed to cast a vote.

Bodgers corner will be redeveloped. Picture: Ellena Cruse

Bodgers corner will be redeveloped. Picture: Ellena Cruse - Credit: Archant

Speaking before the decision was made Councillor Paul Canal said the application was probably the most "important decision this committee will make in the next three years" and it will "shape the centre of Ilford for generations".

He said: "It the biggest building this side of Canary Wharf, it the biggest building this side of the city, it is the tallest building in any part of outer London, on a site where there is nothing similar nearby.

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"I am also aware if we were to commission the 26th tallest building in London - and I believe a building taller than any in Paris or Frankfurt - we are potentially giving a green light to other developers who come in with equally high things. They can say we've got that there, you set the scale, you set the standard, we will built alongside it.

"I am not sure I want to sit here and tonight make a decision which takes this borough on the way to being a mini Chicago.

Bodgers Tower. Picture: Polity

Bodgers Tower. Picture: Polity - Credit: Archant

"If it were 33 storeys I would swallow the lack of the amenity space."

Cllr Gurdial Bhamra said he felt sorry for people who would have to live on the 42nd floor.

"If you look at the history of tall buildings in the country for the last 20 years we have actually been demolishing them," he said.

"As a retired police officer I have been involved in demolishing buildings in Hackney and Newham because of problems, however I do see the need for housing in this borough due to the shortfall."

Tower on the skyline. Picture: Polity

Tower on the skyline. Picture: Polity - Credit: Archant

The applicant said his team had been working with Redbridge Council planning officers for the last two years and takes the "responsibility of delivering a building to scale in such an important place, incredibly seriously".

"A tall building in a pivotal place has to be of the highest quality, we believe we have achieved this, however this is only half the challenge.

"You also need to fulfil a much wider social role. In particular, this application will take delivery of 134 new affordable homes in Recorder House - a large site within the same ward less than a mile down the road. One third of the housing across these sites will be affordable.

"We believe that is an exemplary outcome that will go a long way towards addressing local housing need."

Chairman of the committee, Councillor Jyotsna Rahman Islam was legally required to settle the tie and voted in favour of the development going ahead.

A condition was added to the application that a 24/7 security service will have to operate for security and safety reasons.

Speaking after the meeting Meenakshi Sharma, of Ilford Lives Matter, spoke against approval of the tower.

"This planning application was always going to go through, just like all the others before it in Ilford," she said.

"Even when affordable housing is an issue, through appeal, permission gets granted.

"The Greater London Authority and Redbridge Council have sacrificed areas like Ilford to protect other parts of the borough from the scourge of high rise high-density developments.

"It is a race and class issue as the consequences of such developments affect the most deprived areas which have the greatest numbers of ethnic minorities."