Sunday, September 20, 2015

Oakfield – Going the Distance

It looks like this one is going to go the distance.

After the Open Day last week we are informed that the Labour councillors were all “at a pre-arranged meeting”. However there is another opportunity for them to visit the site this coming Wednesday when the Old Parkonians are hosting a Blood Donation session and I’m sure our comrades will want to do their duty to support the National Health Service which is only safe in their hands. Oakfield is not just a place for sport and healthy activity but also a place for social and community service.

Also last week, on Thursday, we had a Full Council meeting. Below is a picture of the previous administration, just prior to the meeting, under whose jurisdiction the plans to develop Oakfield were hatched, with the £6 million grant to the Frenford clubs (the Chair being Nicholas Hurst, a former Conservative councillor) to move to the Port of London site in The Drive and Cricklefields.


And let us not forget that statement by the former Deputy Leader of the council, Ian Bond, that it was always the intention of the Conservatives - notwithstanding the view of the ward members - to proceed with the sale of Oakfield had they won the 2014 local election.

During last Thursday’s meeting the council leader, one Jas Athwal, was asked if a site for 800 homes could be found elsewhere would Oakfield be left? “No” was the answer. Those homes would be in addition to, not instead of, as the target set by the GLA for houses is only half of Redbridge’s assessed need.

OK. So why isn’t the plan addressing the “assessed need” and what does this mean for the other “rejected” proposals for the Wanstead/Woodford corridor, increased density in the King George/Goodmayes Hospital area, and the pockets of identified Green belt land? Should we be doing all of them?

Chris Nutt of the Save Oakfield Site campaign reports:

Green Belt - The CPRE has issued a Press Release on Oakfield etc. and followed this with a good letter to Tom Copley, the GLA’s Labour Party chair of the Housing Committee. He is about to produce a report on the ‘housing crisis’ which we think will say the crisis of affordability is not the same as a crisis of housing supply. We will also write to him and say that there ARE alternatives; there is no need to build on precious Green Sites; development doesn’t increase affordable housing; there is no gain for local community and building on Oakfield will not solve the housing crisis – it takes away an asset from the local community.

Planning Policy - We have also both made a submission to London Assembly’s ‘Environmental Pressures of London’s Growth’ investigation. I focused on the difference between the planning process theory and how it appears to be working (not working) in practice!

Full Council Meeting - the Meeting highlighted the following:
  • Even if 800 new homes can be built on other land not yet identified, they will not replace Oakfield. In other words they want to build on Oakfield regardless of the need for housing! This shows that they want Oakfield for the money it will bring in from an asset sale. They will therefore be on dodgy grounds when trying to convince the Planning Inspectorate that the various studies are genuinely objective and impartial.
  • Helen Coombs (Chair of the planning, economy & regeneration committee) said that the Playing Pitch Strategy review (PPS) is with the various sports governing bodies (Sport England, FA, ECB, RFU etc.) to ‘sign off’ on the "quantity" of playing fields that will be needed. We knew straight away that it MUST also consider the "quality" of playing fields. But in any case the whole answer was misleading. We have now been told by Sport England that the PPS is not in the process of being signed off. Helen Coomb is mistaken. There was a steering group meeting on 8 September to sign off the data collection stage. Further meetings are schedule for 6 October and 6 November. They may have a first final draft of the PPS for the 6 November meeting at the earliest.
  • This would appear to mean that the Council cannot consider the overall Plan until very late this year or next year, unless they drop the proposed changes to Oakfield.
  • Only one labour member raised his hand, as opposed to the many conservative members, when asked who had visited Oakfield! We have written again to the Labour leader and Councillors to re-iterate that we (SOS) are a non-political campaign group and would like to show them around. They have declined the offer which is a shame as they are clearly out-of-date in their perceptions of who and how many use Oakfield.
  • We asked whether there will be a free vote on the Plan and it seems this is undecided at present.
This issue has been beset by elections from the start. First when Alex Wilson pulled the plug just prior to the locals in 2014, then the nationals in 2015 and now we have the prospect of the London elections next year, 2016. But the intent has stayed the same regardless of political party. It makes you wonder who is running the council? The officers or the Councillors?

Whosoever it is, is going to have to convince the Planning Inspectorate, the London Mayor elect and the Secretary of State and in all three we have a say.

6 comments:

  1. Why are the Labour Councillors not visiting? I had a very enjoyable afternoon there last weekend. Before they plan to pull it down they could at least see what is there!

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  2. I'm so disgusted with our Labour councillors. I've been to the council meetings and been accused of being a nimby but not one labour councillor has responded to any of the local resident concerns. There are many issues surrounding the proposal but they all seem to be ignored. If the council built a case rather than just 'build at all costs' I would listen but every email sent to a raft of councillors only gets conservative responses. They are supposed to represent us aren't they, they are answerable to the electorate but apparently not on this issue.

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    1. It's not surprising that you should be branded a nimby, but it is now a name in which I take pride. I intend to fight to defend my own back yard, and everybody else is entitled to do the same for theirs. If I don't want a development like that proposed for Oakfield in my area, then I don't suppose anybody else would want it in theirs. If by some chance they do, then they are welcome to have it.

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  3. Why would Labour cllrs want to visit,this is a Tory idea driven by a Tory Mayor of London policy.
    It makes you laugh how the Conservative Cllrs all pose for the photos,when its their blood as much over this plan as much as the Labour group.
    The only reason they smile is because someone else has to do their dirty work for them.
    I dont see them posting here and apologising for starting this travesty!

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  4. Perhaps our absent Councillors (of all stripes) may care to visit the approaches to Fulwell Cross roundabout around 8:00am on any weekday morning.

    Of course they will need to walk (or cycle) as driving there will be pretty slow and challenging.

    With the roadworks at the bottom of Fencepiece Road, last week was particularly bad. Queues of around a mile on Tomswood Hill, Fencepiece Road and Forest Road. This week things have returned to "normal", which means the queues are a little shorter - but who in their right minds would seek to introduce extra traffic into a junction that's already dangerously congested?

    Do they really understand words such as "gridlock" and "pollution", or care?

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  5. Still wondering whether or not anyone has considered the wildlife which inhabits this Oakfield and surrounding areas - bats are supposed to be protected, there are many other forms of creatures which should also be considered, if not the people who live on the edges of this land. Also, it is a flood plane, so, with all the impending weather changes towards flooding, how on earth can building go ahead knowing of the possibility of new homes being flooded even before the cement is dry. The present day pollution around the fairlop roundabout is not good, it is known that it is the second most polluted section in London, I won't go into the local residents' breathing difficulties as backup would be required from the surgeries but nevertheless, people are becoming unwell and to add another 800 homes, each with at least one car, another school, with even more drop-offs of children, by car, and with also the addition of a surgery with even more visitors, coming by car can only add a diabolical atmospherical disaster to all residents of this area. There is no excuse! As I've said before, there will be two pounds of poop in a one pound bag - something has to give...!

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