Neighbours slam council over Christchurch Green kiosk approval
- Credit: Charles Llewellyn
Residents of a Wanstead street have hit out at Redbridge Council’s decision to approve the construction of a controversial café kiosk on a nearby green.
Proposals for the “shipping container” kiosk on Christchurch Green were given the green light on August 27 following a closed-door session of the council’s planning committee.
This was despite protests and numerous objections from members of the public on the council’s planning portal.
Opponents have claimed that the design is unsuitable for the area – a conservation zone – and have raised concerns about the impact of the kiosk on other businesses.
Many are also upset about the manner in which the proposals were passed, accusing the council of having “one rule for the council’s culture and leisure partners and one rule for everyone else”.
Vision Redbridge Culture and Leisure (RCL), the council’s cultural contractor, manages Christchurch Green and wants to install the kiosk as a hub for events.
During the planning application process, Kevin Wackett, head of parks and open spaces at Vision RCL, told the Recorder that the kiosk was “carefully designed to fully integrate into the park”.
In a recent letter to residents, Vision gave assurances that they wanted to "hold onto, and improve, the village and family feel of Christchurch Green".
But some residents of Spratt Hall Road, which runs alongside the green, are not convinced of the merits of – or need for – the kiosk.
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Jonathan Sheril, who has lived there for more than 20 years, said there are more than 10 cafes “literally within a stone’s throw” of the green and wondered where there could be a viable business plan for the kiosk.
He felt the community had been “badly let down” by the speed with which the council approved the plans and alleged that Vision were “playing fast and loose with taxpayers’ money”.
Another resident, Karen Myers, agreed that the area was already “well-served by many charming cafes” and said that the kiosk would “change forever the true essence of our much-loved little green space”.
Hannah Healey said she was worried about the potential for anti-social behaviour stemming from having a premises open until late.
“With three young children, the negative impact on my family could potentially be very damaging," she said.
She alleged the approval of the kiosk was a “blatant example of one rule for the council’s culture and leisure partners and one rule for everyone else”.
Hannah claimed that she had been made to install loft windows that were in line with the road’s conservation status and had been denied permission to do a double loft conversion.
She said: “Where’s the fairness? Where’s the consistency in their decision making?”
Redbridge Council did not respond to a request for comment.
Toni and Tony Russell, who have lived on Spratt Hall Road for 42 years, said they too could not understand the need for a kiosk.
They said the green was well-used by children and elderly people and questioned the potential noise, litter and loss of green space that could result from the café.
The facility is expected to cost up to £100,000 and will be open between 9am and 10pm.
Permission to install the kiosk – which will be run by eight part-time employees – was granted on a number of conditions, including that the building’s external surface materials be approved by the council and that no nearby trees are lopped or felled without permission.
Vision recently wrote to residents saying that they were “delighted” to receive planning permission and “excited at the prospect of providing the facility for users” of the green.
They went on: “Whilst we know that there have been some concerns raised through the planning process, there are also many local people looking forward to the café and we want to assure residents that we want to hold onto, and improve, the village and family feel of Christchurch Green.”