Scrapping borough’s conservation panel ‘morally wrong’

Wanstead Park is the largest conservation area in Redbridge. Photo credit: Redbridge Council

Wanstead Park is the largest conservation area in Redbridge. Photo credit: Redbridge Council - Credit: Archant

A conservation panel advising on planning applications has been scrapped following a heated debate at the town hall last night.

Members of Redbridge Council’s Regulatory Services Committee voted to get rid of the Conservation Advisory Panel (CAP) for it to be replaced by a forum, which meets twice a year.

The council hopes to make savings across the council with the panel taking between 18 and 36 days of officers’ time a year to run.

The CAP gives advice on plans made in the borough’s 16 protected areas, 11 of which are in Wanstead and Woodford. Wanstead Park is the largest conservation area in Redbridge.

Opposing the decision, Cllr Michelle Dunne (Con, Wanstead) said: “How can members consider a forum which will meet twice a year when applications are brought every six weeks – we should protect conservation areas to the level they deserve. This administration has not got the good grace to discuss it with the panel.”

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Cllr Colin Cronin (Con, Wanstead) said: “The panel is made up of volunteers and I fail to see where significant costs are being incurred – it’s morally wrong.”

Secretary of the Seven Kings Bungalow Estate Residents Association Brian Springate, who sits on the CAP, said he felt “ignored”.

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“Redbridge Council has a duty to enhance its conservation areas and it’s failing in this regard,” he said.

“It’s important for the panel to continue – to preserve what we have. Doing away with it will increase the process of degradation.”

Cllr Paul Merry (Lab, Wanstead) said: “These are tough times – if you get some magic answers, if you can find us some dosh – we’ll happily keep it.”

He said that the forums would allow more diversity in the people involved with conservation issues.

“What we’re talking about here is a way of improving our services and saving some money at the same time,” he added.

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