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Gants Hill car park will be smaller when library hub is built

PUBLISHED: 17:30 20 September 2019

Lots of views were shared at the Gants Hill hub meeting.

Lots of views were shared at the Gants Hill hub meeting.

Archant

Tensions were high at the Gants Hill Community hub meeting after details about a new "super library" in Cranbrook Road were revealed.

Representatives of Mutual Gain Consultancy, who lead the session, provided feedback about the online consultation and said that Gants Hill car park will be smaller when hubs are built and a "semi-decision had been made on parking" which would result in fewer spaces for visitors.

Responding to the news an audience member accused the presenters of spinning the facts.

"No one here today has made this decision- not you doing a PR job," he said.

"We want the people who made the decision, to stand in front of us with a clear conscience and tell us why.

"We don't want to hear 'we will just build on it and sod the resident who will have to put up with parking [on residential streets]'.

The speaker said she did not directly work with Redbridge Council and she was here to engage with the public about the project.

Another audience member asked how it was possible to accommodate all the elements of the project on such a condensed site.

"You are going to have housing, other car park spaces and extend the library," She said.

"Where is the space for that?"

The speaker said the council had to find ways of "moving forward" and a scheme would go ahead on the site - but residents could shape it.

"Not doing nothing is not an option [sic]," she said.

"It's not like the hub is designed and is ready to build, the council process takes a long time.

"Appointing a designer takes time, we want to hear from you about the consultation."

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A resident raised concerns about the longevity of a playground which councillors promised would be protected at an earlier meeting.

The consultants said they could not confirm that the park would not be encroached upon in the build and added: "The playground, library and car park are in that scope and it (the hub) will impact on it."

Pressed again as to if the playground would be maintained in its current format the consultant said they can't confirm that it will stay the same.

Other topics of mention were concerns about the number of houses on the site - which is projected between 80 and 100 units.

A member of the audience raised concerns about the affordable housing offering and said the "35 per cent" quota has been changed on other developments.

Another also asked why Victoria House in Barkingside was not used as a hub as it is empty and in the council's portfolio but the consultants said it was not a central location.

Towards the end of a meeting another participant added: "From inception to now nothing has changed about the proposals - it is all lip service, we are the guinea pigs.

"It is already a fait accompli."

The consultant said she couldn't make anyone take part but it would be great for residents to shape the consultation and give their views.

It would be setting up a subgroup, that interested residents could join to scrutinise the design plans when they were available.

"The online consultation ended on September 1 and around 297 people took part.

"Fifty-three per cent wanted something for young people in the hub.

"Lots of people valued green space and another thing to come out was that people feel that Gants Hill does not feel as safe as it previously did.

"There was also confusion that there would be 300 homes built on the site - we don't how many exactly as the designers are not on board yet - but we are looking at 80 - 100."

The consultant said the council was also in talks with Redbridge Clinical Commissioning Group after putting a new healthcare service in the building.

Speaking after the meeting Barkingside Councillor Judith Garfield said she will talk to the leader of the council, Cllr Jas Athwal and fight to protect the park on the corner of Cranbrook Road and Martley Drive.

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