Redbridge Council leader defends inclusion of Oakfields in Local Plan at local forum

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. The panel, fro

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. The panel, from left to right, Cllr Hugh Cleaver, Cllr Gurdial Bhamra, Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, director of children's services Pat Reynolds and Cllr Paul Canal. Picture: Ajay Nair - Credit: Archant

Disgruntled members of the public made their voices heard at last night’s local forum after a playing field was earmarked for development.

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. The panel, fro

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. The panel, from left to right, Cllr Hugh Cleaver, Cllr Gurdial Bhamra, Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal, director of children's services Pat Reynolds and Cllr Paul Canal. Picture: Ajay Nair - Credit: Archant

An audience member urged the authority not to “destroy” Oakfield Playing Fields in Forest Road, Barkingside, at Redbridge Council’s local forum held at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge.

The site was included in the draft Redbridge Local Plan this week, with the plan going to a service committee on Wednesday before being sent to full council on June 11 for a final decision.

The man in the audience said: “Oakfields has the best playing fields in the borough – it should be protected.

“It represents only five per cent of your housing target and look at what you’re destroying if it goes ahead – you need to work with the community and we will find the sites you need to build on.”

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. Picture: Ajay

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. Picture: Ajay Nair - Credit: Archant


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The site could accommodate 800 homes, a school and a medical centre.

Redbridge Council leader Cllr Jas Athwal said in response: “It’s gone through all the public consultations and it will go back to the public consultation later.”

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He added: “We have got a housing target we need to meet – there’s lots of obstacles to overcome and we have to prove this is the way forward.

“If it’s the right thing, it will get done.

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. Picture: Ajay

Redbridge Council's local forum at Sinclair House in Woodford Bridge Road, Redbridge. Picture: Ajay Nair - Credit: Archant

“There’s thousands of representations and so absolutely we are consulting with residents but it was a preferred option for a reason.”

Cllr Athwal said work with planning experts revealed that the site was not fulfilling its green belt purpose.

He said: “We need to follow this through and if it’s the best option it will happen – it’s not my job to ruin the green belt.

“We are going through the consultation, it’s a process that’s set up across the country and we are following the rules of the land.”

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