Critics oppose Gants Hill Library plans as council announces next step of development
PUBLISHED: 18:00 21 August 2020
A feasibility study on the Gants Hill Community Hub programme is to start next month, as plans for the current library site continue to attract controversy.
A letter discussing the proposals — first unveiled in November 2018 — was circulated to residents on August 15 by Paul Perkins, the council’s community hubs programme director.
It confirmed that RCKa Architects — appointed in February — are now set to carry out a feasibility study of the site between September and November. They will do this with The Gants Hill Hub Design Group, the resident members of which are set to be randomly selected in the coming weeks.
This latest development has done little to allay critics’ concerns. Campaigner Paul Scott believes the proposed “high-density” housing will have the “wrong type of social impact”, adding that the library must be preserved for “social and cultural” reasons.
He and fellow campaigner Andy Walker are concerned by how the development could impact local infrastructure, with Andy arguing that “a planned substantial increase in population” won’t help an “already-stretched” borough.
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There are also questions marks over affordable housing, he says.
Ultimately, he believes the development will create a “worse, meaner, nastier” Redbridge.
But the council said it was “misleading to suggest it (Gants Hill) is merely just another site for housing development”.
The statement continues: “We have assured residents that the community hub will be focused around a library. We’ve appointed RCKa Architects to work with the community to consider all of the options. The selection and appointment of RCKa was undertaken with residents’ involvement.”
Ilford South MP Sam Tarry added: “Whatever form the new development takes it must address the wider needs of the local community and maintain high quality standards of living.
“It is crucial for the community that surrounding infrastructure and services are first upgraded to cope with an already overpopulated area. Alongside this the social housing crisis must be addressed. The council needs to do far more to go above and beyond the stated 35 pc minimum social and affordable housing figure. We must be setting standards that other boroughs can use as a benchmark.”
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