Plans for Gants Hill library to become a purpose-built residential housing complex with GP, police and book facilities

Gants Hill landmarks. Gants Hill Library

Gants Hill landmarks. Gants Hill Library - Credit: Archant

Plans for Gants Hill library to become a purpose-built residential housing complex with GP, police and book facilities have been unveiled by Redbridge Council.

According to the next cabinet agenda, the site will be one of five regional council hubs in the borough.

The hubs which could include a library, social care services, enforcement, police and GPs all under one roof are envisioned as purpose-built facilities at Gants Hill library, Seven king car park, Wanstead library, Ashtons Playing Fields, and Hainault library.

The clusters would be headed by redeveloped council offices in Ilford.

In the cabinet meeting agenda, Cllr Jas Athwal encourages committee members to vote in favour of his plans at the next meeting on Tuesday, November 13.

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“The hubs programme is designed to enhance and improve the quality of public services in Redbridge,” it said.

“It does not require the closure or reduction of existing services, though clearly, it is likely to change the location of some services in order to improve overall accessibility.”

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“The council is committed to co-designing each hub and providing local residents with an ongoing stake in their governance.”

The council identified that the hubs in Gants Hill and Seven Kings as the most promising sites and said detailed plans of the locations can begin immediately if cabinet agrees.

In Seven Kings, a lorry park and car park would be redeveloped to provide a hub which contains commercial and health outlets.

Residential houses would also be built in the venture and replace the existing library.

In Gants Hill, Cranbrook Road, the existing library and car park would be redeveloped to provide a community hub together with commercial and health uses.

Residential housing will also be erected.

The Wanstead plans includes the redevelopment of the existing library in Spratt Hall Road and development of the Woodbine Centre, in Woodbine Place, to provide a community hub with residential uses above.

A new sports centre and “civic amenities” would be built at Ashtons Playing Field, Chigwell Road and Hainault Library, Manford Way would be redeveloped to contain a community hall, adult social care facilities, and a nursery.

The five proposed site have all been chosen after a “rigorous analysis of their accessibility”, the report says.

“The locations ensure that nearly all residents can reach their nearest hub on foot in under half an hour, with three-quarters of residents within 20 minutes,” it said.

“All residents will be able to drive to a hub within eight minutes and to cycle within 20 minutes.”

The estimated building time of the sites in Gants Hill and Seven Kings are estimated at taking 18-24 months.

The remaining three hubs all require further consideration before firm recommendations can be made in respect of their ultimate delivery.

“In Wanstead and Woodford, further work is required to explore the potential to adapt or relocate existing service facilities on the sites and in Hainault discussions are required with existing leaseholders to determine the potential to consider revised arrangements to support the delivery of the proposed community hub,” it said.

If the cabinet agrees to the proposals a more detailed plan will be produced in spring 2019.

“If these business cases are implemented they will have implications for both the working location of some staff and require the redesign of job roles to support the development of new multi-functional service models,” it said.

“For instance, it is likely that the council would seek to recruit generic hub managers to oversee the full range of services provided, replacing some individual service managers.”

Cllr Linda Huggett, Redbridge Conservative leader said she is concerned about the proposals.

“Although in theory the idea of the community hubs seems to be a good idea there is no mention of the design, density or size of each of the proposed developments which will form an integral part,” she said.

“There is no mention about the proposed infrastructure or what the community services provided will actually be.

“Is this another cynical attempt to have high build unacceptable housing developments in each of our local areas which could destroy the local environment and character of each of our neighbourhoods?

“We will be asking questions at both the next local Forum and overview. “

Cllr Hugget said proposals to force “unacceptable housing and building in our local areas” were attempted more than four years ago and we had huge support from residents for our “Save the Suburbs” campaign.

“We will not allow this to happen again and if necessary will launch a“Save our local Neighbourhoods” campaign so that both ward councillors and local residents can have the opportunity to voice their concerns and have a say in how their local communities are run.

“We will not be dictated to by a labour run council which fails to consult and listen to residents.This is not the way forward for genuine local democracy.”

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