Housing homeless in Hainault parks: Redbridge Council must come up with better deal says MP
PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:25 15 January 2019
Ilford North MP Wes Streeting has promised campaigners that he will request the government "calls in" a proposed scheme to house more than 90 homeless families in two Hainault parks.
More than 350 residents met with politicians in St Paul’s Hall, Arrowsmith Road, on Friday, January 11 to discuss Redbridge Council’s proposals to build 90 family-sized units of temporary accomodation in Brocket Way and Woodman Road, near Manford Way.
In a Facebook post on Sunday (January 13) Mr Streeting wrote: “I was asked to write to the secretary of state asking him to call in the application.
“I will do so, on the basis of residents’ opposition.”
Secretary of state for housing James Brokenshire has the power to “call in” planning applications to determine them himself, taking the decision out of the hands of the local authority.
Mr Streeting added that he is reluctant to oppose the scheme based on his high volume of casework to help residents suffering housing problems.
But he said that campaigners against the scheme raise “valid concerns” about protecting green spaces for children and over-stretched infrastructure in the area.
“I do think that if the council goes ahead, they need a better deal for Hainault,” he wrote.
Mr Streeting criticised both the council’s consultation with residents so far as well as the “blatant scaremongering” of campaigners who spread rumours residents will be “ex-offenders and drug users”.
Sam Chapman, a spokesman for the Brocket and Manford Way protest group, said Mr Streeting’s pledge was “better than nothing”.
He added: “I do not think this application will be stopped by writing to the government to call it in, very rarely does that ever work.
“But it is good of Wes to say that he will do that.
“At the end of the day, he doesn’t really support our group. He is doing this as a duty to express residents’ concerns.”
Conservative Cllr Howard Berlin gave a speech at the meeting opposing the plans.
He said: “There is enough land in London to build the homes we need without touching any of our precious green belt or green space.”
He said that areas of London where homes can be built will open up “due to much improved transport facilities with every prospect of Crossrail 2 (or an alternate scheme) coming on stream by 2026”.He added: “Redbridge Council should be working with local communities on where best to site new housing developments.”
Following the meeting, deputy council leader Kam Rai said: “The purpose of attending the meeting on Friday was to meet with residents and listen to their concerns, something we never shy away from. “I know the three Hainault councillors are always available to speak to their residents and they have been clear from the outset that there must be adequate and constructive consultation opportunities. “We have a huge challenge in trying to balance the needs of those families who, usually through difficult circumstances, are homeless and the concerns of other residents when finding them somewhere to live.
“Whilst I understand some residents were frustrated and angry, it can mean some people are not heard and has consequences, as unfortunately Manford Primary no longer wish to hold consultations there.
“These are difficult decisions and that’s why it was disappointing to see the Tories attempt to appear supportive while never raising a question when the proposal was discussed at cabinet.
“Nonetheless the meeting was useful, and raised questions that residents should and will have answers to.”
A petition opposing the scheme has so far gained more than 1,800 signatures and 100 residents gathered in Brocket Way to protest the plans on January 6.
The council is set to hold three more consultation drop-in sessions this month before submitting a planning application for the scheme in partnership with construction firm Elliot UK and JDA Architects.
More details can be found here.