Redbridge Council drops opposition to Sainsbury’s 683 homes in Ilford plan as inquiry begins
PUBLISHED: 13:37 18 October 2017 | UPDATED: 13:50 18 October 2017
A community group’s battle with a supermarket over plans to build 683 homes in Ilford town centre is under way.
Sainsbury’s wants to build flats on Roden Street – within Ilford’s housing zone – and replace the current store with a larger one.
The supermarket had initially set aside 14 one and two bedroom flats, 12 three bedroom properties and a single four-bedroom home – a total of 27 – to be offered at an affordable rate.
Rents would be capped at 60per cent of the market rate for those 27 properties.
After permission was refused because the affordable housing provision, the supermarket is appealing against the refusal of the application.
But campaign group, Noise (Neighbourhoods of Ilford South Engage) is now solely fighting the application to build the homes after Redbridge Council, which had at first declined to grant permission, withdrew its opposition two days before the inquiry started.
Noise has been granted “group” status, which allows it to cross examine and call witnesses of its own at the hearing – scheduled for eight days.
Representing Redbridge Council, Neil Cameron QC said that a mechanism had now been agreed to allow the amount of affordable housing to increase if sales turned out better than predicted.
A council spokesman said the authority believed it would secure “significantly more affordable housing than has previously been offered”.
But in her opening statement, Meenakshi Sharma, of Noise, who is acting as the lay person at the inquiry, slammed the council for withdrawing its opposition.
She said: “The council have now backed down from even their affordable housing objection and this suggests to us a complete lack of commitment to safeguard the wellbeing and future prospects of local residents.”
Alongside the issue surrounding affordable housing, Ms Sharma said the group will be raising concerns about transport, parking and density problems.
Captain John Clifton, of the Salvation Army and activist group Redbridge Citizens, compared the proposed 29-storey building to Pioneer Point.
He said: “Redbridge Citizens has always called on the council to stick with its 35% affordable homes target.
“This has been our main concern with the Sainsbury’s development.
“While the Secretary of State has intervened here, and a deal is better than the appeal being upheld, there is a real risk that this could turn into Pioneer Point Mark II.
“We need more affordable homes for linked to people’s income there than the market rate.”
A Sainsbury’s spokesman said it looked forward to the outcome of the appeal.
He said: “Our plans will help kickstart Ilford’s future regeneration by driving growth and job creation.”
Conservative group leader Cllr Paul Canal criticised the council for initially refusing the proposal.
He said: ““Labour’s intransigence and incompetence has delayed this much needed regeneration project by 12 months.
“They whipped their councillors to vote against officer recommendations, and commissioned two independent reports into it.
“The protraction in receiving the infrastructure support levy has caused untold damage to our borough.”
The appeal will be heard until October 24, starting at 10am each day, at City Gates Church, Clements Road, in Ilford, and the public can attend.
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