Oakfields plan ‘not just about money’ insists council’s planning boss

Cllr Helen Coomb, cabinet member for planning and regeneration

Cllr Helen Coomb, cabinet member for planning and regeneration - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council’s planning boss refused to reveal the potential profits of selling Oakfields during another heated debate at the town hall over the site’s future.

Cllr Helen Coomb (Lab, Clementswood) said she “couldn’t tell” what the anticipated capital receipt would be for the sale of the land after being grilled by a resident.

“If it was going to be sold, it would depend on the kind of development that it may have on it,” she said.

“The proposals to have it as part of the local plan is not actually just about the money, it’s actually about the housing.”

Pressed on why Sainsbury’s proposals to build 700 new flats at the supermarket site in Roden Street, Ilford, were not included in the plan, Cllr Coomb said it was because the chain did not yet have planning permission for the proposals.

But opposition leader Cllr Paul Canal pointed out that neither did Oakfields – which was included.

The council was also asked on whether or not the site would be used for social housing by Cllr Tom Sharpe (Con, Fairlop).

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Cllr Jas Athwal said: “There’s a process that needs to go through.

“First and foremost we have to make a decision – are we actually going to support the local plan?”

At the four-hour meeting at Redbridge Town Hall, Ilford High Road, three residents’ petitions were presented, including one with 1,979 opposing building on Oakfields.

Petitioner Howard Berlin, a chartered surveyor and Old Parkonians cricketer, asked the council to be honest about why the site had been included.

“If you want to sell Oakfield to pay off the debt tell us! If you need 800 from Oakfields for the local plan then tell us, but if this is the reason I say your numbers don’t add up,” he said.

Cllr Coomb said: “We need a range of housing options, we’ve looked at lots of brownfield options.”

And Cllr Athwal said: “We’ve got plenty of brownfield sites and we are utilising every single bit of land.”

Cllr Michelle Dunn urged the council to set a date for the next local development framework panel meeting, due to take place in September.

The meeting will decide a final local plan which will then go back to service committee and full council for approval.

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