Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Oakfield: Support for Development
- A Response

We now have sight of the complete submissions to Redbridge Council on the Preferred Options Report and its Extension, rather than just the summary in the Officer’s report that was submitted to the Neighbourhoods and Communities Service Committee on 3 June 2015.

We specifically comment, below, on the late (30 May 2015) submission from the so-called “Marston Area (Tilekiln) Neighbourhood Watch Group and Community Association” in support of the removal from Green Belt and development of the Oakfield site. The full submission is here.
We did not make these comments earlier because our Residents’ Groups were not informed that the review was in progress.
Neither was Barkingside 21, or any other community or action group informed, but we all seemed to be able to submit our comments by the deadline date of 22 December 2014. Perhaps these so-called “Residents’ Groups” should pay more attention?
Concerning the Investment Areas, that at Barkingside where investment is already in progress dictates that that area must absorb proportionate new housing development, otherwise waste of public money will result.
Although Woodford Bridge is not mentioned as an investment area in the Plan, it has nonetheless received substantial investment recently. It is also a recognised Town Centre with a decent range of retail outlets plus social and leisure facilities. It is close to the major transport hub of Charlie Brown’s roundabout with access to the A406 North Circular and the M11 corridor. There is also easy access to the south and the A1400 via Roding Lane North, a category 3 road and a designated strategic route. Accordingly using the argument above it too “must absorb proportionate new housing development, otherwise waste of public money will result”.
Our view is that the objections that have been raised to Strategy 1, the development of the Oakfields site at Barkingside, lack substance and should be overruled. Objections from immediately adjacent residents are to be expected in respect of almost any development, and if such were in the general case to be sustained (consistently, as in equity they would have to be), the only sites which could ever be developed would be those lying isolated in open country.
This argument could also be applied to the objections to development in the vicinity of, and made by, the so-called “Marston Area Neighbourhood Watch”, specifically the Nine Acres site and the Beal/Redbridge Recreation Ground. However, while there are no doubt objections from residents immediately adjacent to Oakfield, the overwhelming thrust of objections have come from the Clubs on the site, and their members and users, plus other rather more credible, legitimate and accountable community groups not to mention recognised National Sporting bodies.
We also think that the objections on traffic grounds cannot be justified. The site lies in very close proximity to a traffic hub (Fullwell Cross roundabout) whose capacity is probably second only in the Borough to that of Gants Hill roundabout. From it immediately radiate five medium distance through routes, two more within 150 metres, an eighth at just over 500 metres. Most of these roads are fifty-foot or more, some sixty-foot or more. These roads currently carry little long-distance traffic. Within 2.5Km comes the Gants Hill roundabout itself and several other hubs. Further we note that in the 1990s the redevelopment of the former Claybury Hospital site with a comparable number of units in an area where the road system has a much lower traffic capacity was not considered objectionable.
This whole argument is a red herring, which omits the uncomfortable facts the petitioner does not like. Later in the submission there is this:
Unlike Tomswood Hill (above), Roding Lane North is a mere forty-foot road and at this point at least is very heavily trafficked at peak hours for access to the school. Any introduction of additional traffic at this point would massively increase congestion.
Firstly, Roding Lane North may be a “mere forty-foot road” but the actual carriageway, by the petitioner’s own admission elsewhere, is much wider than a normal forty-foot road having been widened many years ago. And if this road is “heavily trafficked at peak hours for access to the [singular] school” then the roads in the vicinity of Fullwell Cross must also be subject to the same problem and also to “massively increase[d] congestion” from the introduction of additional traffic there. There are seven schools in the immediate vicinity of Fullwell Cross, two of which are secondary schools. King Solomon, IJPS, Clore Tikva, Mossford, Ilford County High, Avanti, Fairlop Primary, some of which, unlike Roding Primary, have recently been expanded to cope with extra demand and some where expansion is in the pipeline. The plain fact is that while there is some congestion at Woodford Bridge it is nowhere near the levels at Fullwell Cross, as will be recognised by anyone who actually drives a vehicle; which the petitioner does not.
Bedford House
Also this indicates that a Strategy that we do not object to is No 3 the “Western” or “Woodford” development corridor. The eight sites so far involved there would, like Oakfields, have adverse affects only in their immediate vicinities, and there are many other sites in that area which could be added to extend or spread development. We have in mind the many crumbling mansions a century or so old like Bedford House which give the whole of South Woodford a very run-down air.
King Arthur House
Likewise there are many sites in Woodford Bridge which could be developed, like the Guide Dogs for the Blind site and former Police Dog centre (as well as the Nine Acres site which fulfils all the Sustainable development criteria specified in the Plan and does not have the iconic Centre of Sporting Excellence status of Oakfield), and which would only have adverse affects in their immediate vicinities, plus there are many crumbling buildings, like King Arthur House, which give the whole of Woodford Bridge a very run-down air. "They certainly do not have any iconic value and the whole area would be improved by their replacement with modern buildings".

One wonders whether the 70 signatories to the two petitions realise that these arguments in support of the development of Oakfield could equally be applied in future, by people or groups who do not live in the immediate vicinity, to the likes of Ashton Playing Fields, Wanstead Rugby Club and the Caterham Playing Field?


  1. Dear editor, why are you so dismissive of this petitioner? The 'so called' alluding to them not being legitimate. Every argument against any development is the same, 'traffic, noise, infrastructure' The arguments against Oakfield could be be quite easily applied to any location Within the Borough, the reality is the Oakfield option is likely to be the one which has lowest impact, relatively, of the the options on the table.

    1. The petitioner and his views are legitimate; the “body” through which they are presented is not. It has no formal structure, no constitution, no elected officers and therefore no democratic legitimacy or accountability. A recent "Newsletter" penned by the petitioner stated that the last meeting of the "group" was over 25 years ago. There is no mechansim for dissent and so the petitioner has no right to present himself as representative of a "community association" in the area where I live, when I cannot be a member, or have any influence.

      The petitioner is perfectly entitled to his personal views, to express and submit them, backed up with a petition. However, he is not entitled to have those views go unchallenged and undebated. Which is the purpose of the post above.

      As you say on your twitter account, “You and I can respectfully disagree” and we do on Oakfield as witness your earlier comments on other posts.

    2. Fair enough, but aren't all community groups usually led by the nose? My experience is the chair of the group usually gives the most time and commitment while the rest are happy to go along as long as they don't have to do too much!

      My point is the petition still stands valid, well as valid as any other petition, and so do the arguments, even if it is from a one man band.....which it may or may not be.

  2. My comment has to do with access to the Oakfield site if a number of houses were built. B21 quite recently alluded to two 'ransom strips' or vacant sites in Fencepiece Road which I have long wondered about, but now the reason for retaining them is clear. If these were to be the only routes into and out of the site, then the residents of all the new houses on Oakfield would find themselves unable to leave between 8 and 9 a.m. due to the constant queue of traffic on Fencepiece Road mainly resulting from the proximity of seven, yes that's right seven, schools within a mile of the Fullwell Cross roundabout, all of which are already oversubscribed. If an exit were to be created in Forest Road they would have a similar problem. The additional difficulty is that although Forest Road could perhaps be widened between the roundabout and the station if land were taken from the school, nothing could be done about the railway bridge without enormous expense and delays to the Central Line, which is already the busiest line on the Underground network.

    It is true that all objections to new developments centre around noise, infrastructure and traffic but I would suggest that in this case the impact on the traffic and on the infrastructure would be unacceptable not only to existing residents but to the people living on the Oakfield site, who no doubt will be expected to pay handsomely for the privilege of living in an area where there are no school places for their children, they are unable to register with a GP, Central Line trains are full to capacity most of the day and night and the traffic prevents them from taking their children to the school to which they have been allocated somewhere else in the Borough.

    1. Don't you think this would be the case everywhere Patsy? Can you think of a place where homes could be built where there isn't already traffic in the morning? This site has potentially 4 exits/entrances and the proximity to Schools, shops and stations might just mean they don't all need to drive, maybe the amount of traffic will finally make people use bikes, public transport or God forbid their feet.

      This argument on the local plan is simply confined to Oakfield and my message to those who oppose it, is give other potential sites the same courtesy, because the arguments against are the same, if not more robust.

    2. Yes, I see where you are coming from. However the proximity to schools in this instance is of little relevance as all seven schools within walking distance are full. Ilford County High for Boys is due to increase its intake from 4fe to 6fe, but as this is a selective school it draws its pupils from a six-mile radius and therefore the car traffic at peak school times will increase.

      If you are saying that all development has the same disadvantages and therefore the same grounds for objections, then why not dispense with the planning process altogether and just say yes to every proposed development. That would have the advantage of allowing local authorities to ride roughshod over the opinions of residents without the hypocrisy of 'consultations'.

      We in Barkingside are suffering the familiar results of overcrowding - loss of amenities, long queues for access to public services, too many people trying to fit into too small spaces, not to mention increased levels of stress, resentment and xenophobia, Can you wonder that we do all we can to stave it off? The result, as everywhere, is that those who can afford it will move away to areas where the pressure is less acute, leaving those who can't to live with ever worsening conditions.

      By the way, I live in Sandringham Gardens. Where do you live?

    3. Dear Patsy, I live in Woodford, and therefore cannot argue with your local objection. My understanding of planning is they must perform feasibility studies and therefore either something can work or cannot as a result. Regarding Oakfield, the proposed inclusion in the local plan includes reappointing playing fields, therefore as a Borough we will not lose facilities, and it also makes reference to a School on the site along with a medical centre, both of which could be used by you and other residents. Traffic will be an issue no doubt, but, and this is why I believe this site is being included, it is within a very short walk to two tube stations and Barkingside High Street, plus Fairlop Waters and the Recreational Ground.

      My own feeling is to build nothing at all, but if we are compelled by government to have an identified plan, which we are, then Oakfield is certainly the best choice of those available. I say this impartially as none of them, Wanstead and Woodford corridor included, affect me directly, in nimby terms anyway!

  3. Where exactly is the "9 acre site" is it the empty field next to the newly built housing? Richard S

    1. I think the "empty field" you refer to is the Caterham Playing field.
      The Nine Acre site is tucked away behind Roding Primary school and abuts the Gwynne Park estate and Claybury Park.
      See Map
      We believe the land is owned by Barnardos.

    2. As far as I can tell this is what I thought was the Roding School field as they hold events there. On the Caterham playing field I have never seen it used and only time I see people on it is when the council is paying for the grass to be cut. Richard S