Friday, June 19, 2015

Oakfield: Statement by the MP for Ilford North

     Redbridge desperately needs new homes. We have thousands living in temporary accommodation; people are struggling with the rising costs of renting; and home ownership is a pipe dream for too many. These problems will not be addressed, so long as the demand for new homes outstrips supply and against this backdrop, it is hard to look unfavourably at our council’s proposals for 800 homes – many of which would be family-sized houses – and much needed funding for schools and GP surgeries.
     But these homes will come at a price. The loss of playing fields on the Oakfield site is a cause of great concern and distress to many residents. The playing pitches are well used by a wide range of sports clubs. Their contribution to the sporting life and cohesion of our borough is cherished. There are also legitimate concerns about transportation, congestion and air pollution.
     The council is caught between a rock and a hard place on this issue and I am glad they are listening and consulting further.
     I’ve really wrestled with my conscience on this and, after careful reflection, I have decided to support residents campaigning to save the Oakfield site.
     This hasn’t been an easy or straightforward decision, but I believe I’m reflecting the will of people who elected me to stand up for their interests in both the council chamber and the House of Commons, which is what I promised to do.

Wes Streeting MP
A “rock and a hard place”. When in such a situation something has to give, you have to force the issue. I will have more to say on this next week, when I find the time to write it. It will be controversial.


  1. Try looking at the sheds with huge car parking around them. There is loads of land, for some reason we do not see it.

  2. Over its life, the average car spends 95% of its life parked, in one of four places, home, work, shops and leisure. Look around at the amounts of land we are using just to store them. Then add in the space to move them....

  3. I'm not surprised at all by his stance, much as I support and prefer Streeting over Lee Scott, he seems to have a tendency to yield and flap under strain, and this isn't the first time.

    He argument is a paradox, on one hand he says the housing is needed and the Oakfield site is ideal as it provides family homes, Schools and Medical facilities, plus he cannot look on it 'unfavourably', and yet he is suddenly siding with the campaign against. Therefore can we conclude that he'll do what's populist and not what he considers right?...interesting.

    As a current Councillor he must also know the playing pitches have to be replaced with just as good if not better facilities, and therefore voids his point. Good for him supporting some of his residents, but I await his thoughts on where the homes should be built and what about 'the thousands of people living in overcrowded accommodation or waiting for affordable housing' that he mentions? maybe they are just not vocal enough for Mr Streeting to hear their concerns, or I suppose they can be relied to vote Labour anyway.

    This site is clearly, unless you use the pitches or live right by it, the best choice, if we must have a plan, which I understand is the case. Much as I'd rather not build anywhere and just say we are maximum developed in Redbridge, so tough, go away, find other places to live, I am realistic, but find the politics tiresome, as it seems they're not willing (Tory Councillors included) to put the right decision before political expediency.

  4. Jack, you "find the politics tiresome," then why do you speak only of politics or make statements about the "right decision" for which you provide zero evidence. The campaign to save open space and playing fields for the present and future community (including you) has big, broad support and has provided stacks of arguments which funnily enough, stack up. Look at the evidence for and against development, then argue your case on the facts.

    1. Below is a comment from Jack Silver with the bit that did not conform to our comments policy edited out.

      I said 'I find the politics tiresome' regarding the politicians who are making decisions based on self serving reasons and not judgements based on facts, or best worst basis. I shall continue to commentate as long as the editor allows, and you do not have to read my posts.

      Actually the arguments to exclude Oakfield are no more important, and in some cases less, than developing anywhere else in the Borough on a similar scale. The open space playing field argument has been more than negated because national policy states clearly that playing fields must be replaced by equal to or better facilities. You certainly have not presented any argument in your post and just seem annoyed that everybody does not agree with you, well tough, not everyone does. My point was that the MPs position has conveniently fallen behind your campaign and I see the irony and hypocrisy in what he has written, you obviously don't, or won't and [snip] I just choose to be a little more objective.

  5. Wes Streeting is doing what he was elected to do - represent the people of Ilford North. In addition, were he to support the Oakfield development he could be accused of betraying them, given his stance on the issue before they voted for him.

    In reply to your reponse to my comments on an earlier blog: you point out that there is mention in the plans of a school and medical centre. You will forgive our cynicism but these wonderful things are often included at the planning stage and then find themselves eased out as the process continues. I place no faith in the prospect of these facilities.

    Why cannot say we are maximum developed in Redbridge? Why doesn't it matter that the construction of 800 houses removes amenities or moves them further away, makes us all feel more 'cabinned, cribbed, confined' and has a deleterious effect on community cohesion?

    Many people in Barkingside worked and struggled to buy a house in an area where they actively wanted to live. Loss of amenities, long waits to see a GP and crowded tube trains and buses, in other words the degradation of their neighbourhood, is just as unfair to those people as
    the lack of available housing is to others but they hesitate to raise their voices as they will be accused of nimbyism.

    Many of us feel that our objections, however valid, will count for nothing if the Local Authority has made up its mind. Wes Streeting was not my choice for MP but he has risen in my estimation.

  6. Jack speaks common sense and not afraid to be unpopular with his honesty and balanced views!
    Options on the designs have a school a health centre and to a good sports centre and a tube station. It's a house buyers dream.
    Why are people so against this locally?
    Why would there be traffic traffic chaos...everything will be within 30secs walk the only traffic will be weekend visits in and out in my opinion.
    This will boost the high street economy and encourage restaurants and retail to serve these new additions..who will be able to walk to them!
    None of the other sites have anywhere near these opportunities...and the pitches will be replaced elsewhere and potentially better too.
    Politicians should be standing by this and stop getting sucked up by the eternal doom and disgust conjured up by people that have no forward vision or deeply fear change.

    1. Thank you for be able to read my posts correctly. I have said several times I'm probably against most development, generally the existing infrastructure is expected to absorb it, such as the blocks of flats around Gants Hill. Oakfield would allow there to be a School, medical centre etc. even for the cynics, the School would be built just because there is a need as would the medical centre, and both would bring in business rates for the Council plus funding that these both attract, and I'm sure all the local Councillors and MP would fight to ensure that was the case.

      As you point out, this site would be a homebuyers dream and would stop Barkingside high street being no more than charity shops and increase use of the pubs and library, which are within walking distance, surely a tick in the box for the environmentalists. The facts are the Council MUST have a plan and this is just one site within it, it MUST also reprovide the playing fields, so really why is this place any more important than the others being considered? If you're against this site, then the same conditions and arguments need to be applied to all the other developments in the Borough, for fairness.

    2. Common sense prevails, it's such a pity some are selfish and wrapped up in their own precious lives to not embrace sharing the benefits of Redbridge.
      And this old world is a new world and a bold world for me
      It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new life for me,
      And I'm feelin' good

      Fear is the mindkiller

    3. dear average joe ....have you seen the shops in the high road.....only useful if you are of certain ethic/national backgrounds...not much there for white british polite and has manners me.. anymore,

    4. Couldit be that the most significant word in your reply is 'options'?

    5. Once again anybody who takes a different view is 'selfish and wrapped up in their own precious lives'.
      Yes my life is precious to me, as indeed yours should be to you, and part of that life is my environment. Comments like yours, average joe, reduce the level of debate to mudslinging.

    6. Patsy...precious but not at the expense of future generations...I have not been mudslinging..just focusing on the potential positives..rather than the British trait of focusing on the negatives to spread misery and revelling in dispair that so many like to do!
      Negativity to the slightest bit of change and progression is what poisons, what is left of our community!
      Anon....yes the shops plagued by pound shops and charity shops ( i dont see culturally themed shops tbh)...due to young and vibrant families will hopefully bring about change making the high street more like Upminster in Havering for example,social places again,although judging by your mildly racial comments maybe you should stay indoors.

    7. Average Joe ..
      Who decides what is negative and what is positive? Who decides what change is good and what change is bad?

      I think Anon was referring to the Chinese and Indian restaurants and takeaways, maybe?

    8. As it happens, I am Chairman of Relate London North East which is looking at opening a second charity shop (we currently have one in Elm Park). Upminster is one of the areas we are researching and we are spoilt for choice as there are so many empty shops in the High Street.

  7. I am all for building new homes as we all know they are needed. BUT PLEASE, PLEASE, ensure that the infrastructure is in place first. Have you seen Barkingside round-a-bout at school opening and closing? You can't get on the round-a-bout and can't get off it once on a those busy times. What will another 800 homes do, that has to be another 1000 cars at least. Please move all zebra crossings 50 yards back down all access roads to the round-a-bout and make them pedestrian crossings. Please also consider schools, GP surgeries, public transport at the same time as building instead of after.

  8. Perhaps we need to look for longer term solutions rather than just firefighting. The housing market is not working efficiently so we need government to step up to the plate.

    Solutions should include reducing demand in London rather than just increasing supply. I think moving central government up north would be very beneficial for the country as a whole.


  9. Still waiting for some evidence from the development lobby. The insults and character assassinations suggest it will be a long wait.

    Let me help. Jack has previously said elsewhere that Oakfields is not green belt because it does not prevent coalescence of neighbourhoods. Arguable. Have a look at Google maps and make up your own mind or look at the .....

    Evidence: The Council commissioned consultants to review selected parcels of Green Belt and identify land that could be developed for housing and to make proposals. The "Green Belt Review" identified a number of ppg2 criteria, not one. There are also prevention of urban sprawl and prevention of encroachment onto the countryside. An overhead view demonstrates that Oakfields is in the front line. Even the review concluded that development of oakfields would break the urban edge. In other words oakfields does prevent urban sprawl and prevents encroachment. Therefore it is green belt whether you are for or against development.

    One of many arguments put forward by 17 speakers at the Cabinet meeting on 3rd June.

    Want to talk about Housing and helping local people? Check out how many developments there have been and the census data and tell us.

    Pollution, health, traffic, population density, struggling hospitals, insufficient infrastructure, stretched services, quality of life, community, open spaces, alternative sites. Take your pick,. Please.

    It's not your opinion that is the issue, its that you present it as fact without evidence.

    1. Pollution, health, traffic, population density, struggling hospitals, insufficient infrastructure, stretched services, quality of life, community, open spaces, alternative sites. Take your pick,.

      The issue is all these could and probably will be covered in this development.
      It is probably the perefect fit or as close to compared to any other site.
      The roundabout will go and sequenced lights to manage any increased traffic,a school and health centre on the site.
      You have Tesco and Sainsbury's perefectly adequate in coping with more customers...again a boost to the imediate economy whether a business giant or not.
      Humans are naturally lazy sadly everything on your doorstep is a prefect opportunity.
      The sports club gets relocated to an equal or better site wins all round.
      It is a shame this is such a good option...but i have not seen one other site mentioned that comes close to trumping this one,regardless of the urban sprawl argument,which is an archaic idealism in world long gone!
      We dont live in the countryside we live in London!
      The clue is in the title...LONDON borough of Redbridge

  10. At the risk of repeating myself, I'll give it another go. Pay attention please Simon, my first reaction is we do not build anything anymore, as every single development will add to pollution, traffic, infrastructure problems and the loss of space, green or otherwise. This route sadly is NOT available to the Council, without a plausible local plan developers will be able to apply directly to the inspectorate ( who given govt and housing pressures will likely agree ) and the local Council and people will have no say on the type, density, infrastructure of the development.

    Therefore we move onto the four options under consideration, look them up please, without blind rage you will see the most appropriate option that will provide family houses, a School, a medical centre, close to transport links and shopping parades is Oakfield, OF THE FOUR. This is an undeniable fact.

    Evidence you say, well I've only ever referred to evidence, there was an independent Green belt review, that recommended Oakfield to be removed from the Green belt, there's your evidence, an expert on the matter, no need to rely on a mixture of Google maps and the pub bore, but actually someone who has studied the subject and is qualified to comment on Oakfields green belt status. This is obviously difficult to digest and therefore the conspiracy theorists crop up with speech marks around independent and conveniently, to allude to it being a fix. Funnily enough the whole greenbelt in Redbridge was reviewed, so why not have arranged for more to be earmarked for release if it was a fix?

    Now what really is interesting, is why are those who are against Oakfield being developed are so worried if indeed they are convinced it is still greenbelt? If you are so confident, just put you feet up and have a cuppa and let the plan fail, because that is what will happen if it is agreed to continue as green belt.

    You see there is one huge problem, protestors need to bring forward alternatives from the list to replace Oakfield and argue why they are better solutions. And on the issue of 17 speakers on the 3rd June, well after having listened to the recording, few of them were coherent arguments, all they spoke about were the clubs and the pitches, and therein lies your achilles heel, because those playing fields have to be replaced before Oakfield were to be built upon, if that's the case.

    My issue from the beginning has been about consistency, you can't argue pollution if the alternative option will cause more, you can't argue population density and infrastructure pressures, when the alternatives offer homes/flats without infrastructure, you cannot argue traffic when 800 homes elsewhere will also cause traffic, probably more, as Oakfield is so close to tube stations and a shopping centre. It's this hypocrisy that makes me want to call out MP Streeting, and objectively consider Oakfield.

  11. Below is a comment from Simon with the bit that did not conform to our comments policy edited out. That's a clickable link so please everybody go and read it.

    Joe, preserving what little we still have left as a community hardly makes us idealists, don't give up on the community you live in. Building on open green belt space space providing sporting opportunities for girls and boys, men and women will not deal with pollution, traffic, health, overpopulation or any of the problems I listed. It makes them worse and we should not have to accept that just because we live on the edge of London (alhough my postal address Essex, weird!).

    Jack, you may think I am simple Simon but [snip]. You know nothing about me or the people you dismiss as incoherent.

    I presented you with evidence on a topic - findings from the Council's own report (yes, I have read it) which concluded that developing Oakfields would break the urban edge which meets the 2 PPG2 criteria I identified for you. A report commissioned with a budget of £50K and a requirement to identify sites for housing (see the Consultant's brief published on Redbridge i). A report from Colin Buchanan, a firm specialising in planning, transport, urban design and economics consultancy (see their own publicity), part of SKM a global company specialising in mining, desalination and construction, taken over by Jacobs, a huge US firm doing all the above plus oil, pharmaceuticals, defence, chemical, nuclear etc (see their web site). They are not tree huggers and they were not independent as they were not free of influence, motive or financial reward.

    A fact from the plan for 2015-30. It proposes a target of 1,123 pa (per annum [snip]) which is 16,845 over that period. Oakfields represents 4.7% of the total. The report suggests we need 2,000 pa which would make Oakfield 2.7% of the total. Is it worth it?

    Why do we need so much housing? The population's growing rapidly, 45,000 between 2001 and 2011. We are told it is a high birth rate yet the UK born population declined 5,000 during this time (rounded figures from Redbridge i).

    Why this information? Population growth is cited as the driver for the Plan and the Green Belt Review as the reason for including Oakfields. Instead of calling people names why don't you actually deal with the evidence.

    I'm going to take your advice, have a cuppa, put my feet up and read all your posts.

  12. I recall that someone wrote a blog regarding the 9 ACRE site at Woodford Bridge and that this was a school playing field so we shouldn't be suggesting that is built on instead.
    Just to say that the playing field is just behind the school and, obviously, is vital to the school but I assume that what is being considered [or not, as the council seem to be steering away from this for some reason] that there is a large area of undergrowth next to that which is basically only used by dog walkers [who have the whole of Claybury Woods to use], so developing this virtually unused part of the site would have a much lower impact than at Fulwell Cross, would blend in easily with the small estates around it and Gwynne Park and would be a pleasant location for new residents. I would also have thought the council would be looking at the plan for the guide dog centre to move as a potential location for housing!