Despite very strong opposition and publicity, the amended planning application to leave the spoil and mud mounds at the back of the new Harrow Lodge Sports Centre has been passed by the planning department. Residents of St. Leonard’s have been in touch to release this statement:
“In 2018 the origifnal planning permission was conditionally approved for the new leisure centre in Hornchurch, and has since been erected. From the start of the project the residents have patiently put up with the noise and disruption caused by the construction, and this was highlighted during the summer of 2020, when a mound of spoil grew in size to the rear of Wallis Close, which we put up with, despite being in lockdown and most of us having to work from home. The mound eventually became higher than the houses. As we knew that it was meant to be temporary, (which the notices displayed on the surrounding fencing confirmed), we felt that the mound would eventually be removed and the land restored to flat parkland as in the original planning application. Sadly we now know that this is not going to be the case, despite suggestions made by Counsellor Damian White (Leader of LBH) (during his visit to Wallis Close) and by Viddy Persaud, in her quote to the local press, ‘ There is currently a mound of earth on this site due to the ongoing construction of the new leisure centre. Its not permanent and will be moved as soon as the landscaping planning application for the site has finished’ (as reported by the local press, Havering Daily and Romford Recorder in August 2020).
In an email to a resident Melvin Wallace also advised residents:
‘I confirm that when I was Lead Member for Culture and Leisure the original plans were shown and discussed with local residents at open evenings. It was proposed that once the new sports centre was completed there would be landscaping to hide the development to give some privacy to local residents, also the remaining field would be made good.’
On 1 December 2020, some of the residents of Wallis Close participated in a Zoom meeting with members of planning department, Simon Thelwell, and Raphael Adenegan, which included Ward Councillors, Ciaran White, Christine Smith, Maggie Themistocli, Keith Prince, GLA member for Havering & Redbridge, Counsellor Ray Morgan, and other interested parties to discuss the latest, proposed landscaping application. All participants agreed that this meeting could be recorded as a matter of record. During this meeting, Raphael, openly admitted that he advised the ‘applicant’ (LBH and Everyone Active) what they needed to do to get their planning application passed, which included moving the red line borders to incorporate areas which were not originally included within the boundary of the project, which effectively meant that instead of having to remove the spoil, they were able to leave it where it was and ‘landscape it’. As residents we felt that this was unacceptable and that further discussions were needed to reduce the height still further to protect our privacy and security, and thought that this would arise when we were later advised by Ward Counsellors Ciaran White, Christine Smith and Maggie Themistocli, that a further meeting with Damien White, Guy Selffe (LBH Health and Wellbeing Manager), Andrew Blake-Herbert (LBH CEO) and Jane West (LBH COO), was to be held on 14 December to discuss further amendments. Even Counsellor Keith Prince, (in an email to one of the residents, following the Zoom meeting), said ‘I think the current proposal would be an improvement but I feel more should be done’. So we were still hopeful at this stage that further improvements could be achieved.
A further lockdown meant that we did not actively chase Counsellor Ciaran White, for the outcome of the meeting. We found out directly from Havering Planning via an email on 12 January 2021 that the application had been passed without further amendment. On contacting Counsellor Ciaran White, he advised us that at the meeting which he had with the planning department, resulted in them saying that they had looked at all the options and would not consider any further ‘improvement’.
Once again we feel that as residents we have been ignored, and prevented from having any input in a decision which will affect us and our futures and that Havering in our opinion, have done what they had always intended to do and have used the field as a dumping ground and used the lockdown as an excuse to hide behind so as not to meet with us to potentially reach a compromise. We feel that we have simply been paid ‘lip service’ and have been misled by Havering Council throughout the entire process.
We would also like to add, that we have spoken to Councillor Ciaran White, over the past week, as we now have, what we can only describe as a ‘pond’ at the rear or the properties, caused by the rain and lack of drainage where the current mound stands, which we feel proposes a health hazard, (ie stagnant water, and all that may come from that) as it has grown is size since we first reported it several weeks ago. Ciaran has advised that he is currently waiting for a response from Guy Selfe in how this is to be managed.
Residents Wallis Close