Proposals to house 90 homeless families in two Hainault parks provokes 900-signature petition
PUBLISHED: 17:53 03 January 2019 | UPDATED: 17:59 03 January 2019
About 90 homeless families could be temporarily housed in two Hainault parks by Redbridge Council – but more than 940 people have signed a petition against the proposals.
The council is planning to build 30 family-sized units of modular temporary accommodation in Brocket Way Park and 60 family-sized units in Woodman Road, near Manford Way.
But more than 400 people have joined a Facebook group campaigning against the plans, after they were revealed at a community consultation in St Paul’s Hall, Arrowsmith Road, on December 19.
“The underhand tactics of the council have made local residents extremely angry,” group spokesman Sam Chapman, 21, told the Recorder.
“They landed this [consultation] right before Christmas, when everyone is busy.”
Sam, who has lived in The Lowe, Hainault, all his life, believes that only 20 households were informed about the consultation.
“We all want to help the homeless and vulnerable,” he said.
“But it has to be in the right area, not destroying green field sites.”
He added: “They want to develop on the only two public parks left within the boundaries of Hainault estate.”
The group fears the influx of families will overburden already overstretched services in the area, including GPs and schools.
High rates of childhood obesity mean that parks and green spaces should be prioritised, he argued.
“I was lucky enough as a child to use this park and I feel sorry for the younger generation who will be missing out on the opportunities I had if the council decides to ignore us and proceed with the development,” he said.
He highlighted that the council’s Local Development Framework lists both parks as “important urban green spaces” which must be safeguarded by “refusing development proposals” which do not support their use as open space.
The group is also concerned that a transient population will erode the estate’s community spirit.
At the time of writing, an online petition against the proposals has 943 signatures.
The housing project would see Redbridge Council join forces once again with construction firm Elliott UK and JDA Architects. A planning application is set to be submitted later this year.
This same partnership won planning permission to build a 30-unit temporary accommodation scheme for up to 100 homeless residents in July this year, although more than 100 objections were submitted.
A council spokeswoman said the proposals are intended “to speed up the availability of safe, secure and suitable accommodation for those caught in the housing crisis”.
She added: “The government’s austerity measures and benefit changes, combined with rising rents and a lack of housing supply in the private sector, means many thousands of families in our borough are homeless and on our waiting list.
“This situation has a devastating human impact and one we are committed to addressing by pledging to build 1,000 genuinely affordable homes in Redbridge over the next four years.
“These modular builds provide immediate and longer term accommodation for homeless families who would otherwise find themselves in hostels or bed and breakfast – until they can find a permanent home.
“Building this much-needed accommodation is subject to planning permission and we have already started consulting with local residents on our proposals.”
Asked how the sites had been selected, she added that they have been identified “based on the council’s land and property portfolio that could accommodate one or more blocks”.
She said that leaflets have been distributed to residents and a further consultation meeting is planned.
Conservative deputy leader Cllr Howard Berlin said: “As a council we have a responsibility to protect our valuable green spaces for future generations.
“Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.
“The children’s play area in Brocket Way is much valued and used by the local community and the Redbridge Conservative Group is calling on Redbridge Labour administration to ensure that the play area, which is free to use, remains as green space for the benefit of Redbridge residents.”