Friday, November 18, 2016

"London Mayor Unlikely to Approve Housing on Oakfield"

So says the London Assembly Member for Havering and Redbridge, Keith Prince, who just happens to be our special guest at next week’s coffee morning on Tuesday 22 November. Here’s his tweet.

His comment is based on the GLA Representation to Redbridge re the Local Plan which as far as we know has not yet been published on-line. Here’s a scanned copy.

The Representation was submitted by the GLA’s Development, Enterprise and Environment Department. Dated 11th October, it comments on the Plan in general, Housing, Green Belt and Metropolitan Open Land, Affordable Housing, Housing Mix, Employment and Industrial Land, Retail, Sustainable Development, climate change and pollution and Basements.

Their comments on the Green Belt are particularly relevant for Oakfield. The GLA are critical of Redbridge’s approach to Green Belt and says:
Hainault Fields (known as Oakfield) and Fairlop Plain
This site would most likely meet the London Plan’s criteria for MOL. [1] The All London Green Grid SPG shows the sites as having the potential to form part of a Metropolitan Park. There is some scope within any re-designation for limited development on existing built footprint of the sports centre and pavilion buildings located close to the high PTAL accessible Fairlop Central Line tube station.
Whilst not entirely explicit, that appears to be good news to say the least. However, the Save Oakfield Society will check with the LBR’s Planning Policy Manager in a meeting already set up later in November.

Elsewhere the GLA suggest other areas that could be build more densely, including South Woodford since that forms part of the London Cambridge Corridor.

The Ilford Recorder are a little more optimistic.
Sadiq Khan opposes Redbridge Council’s Oakfield Playing Fields development

Meanwhile at yesterday’s Full Council:

Members of SOS asked questions at the meeting followed by a deputation. The main things emerging from replies and questions during the Deputation were that:
  • No new sites are being considered for relocation of Oakfield playing pitches other than those listed in the Local Plan. (This is surprising, given the clear unsuitability of those in the Local Plan but it was clearly stated.)
  • Officers are talking about those sites to OPA and ICHSOT as ‘leaseholders’ and therefore not talking to other clubs at this stage. (We know that there are legal shortcomings in that approach since legal protections relate to ‘occupiers’ rather than leaseholders.)
  • They do not regard the meetings as ‘secret’ since they expect the attendees to report back to their respective clubs. (But actually nothing regarding alternative sites had been approved for discussion by OPA until 11th Aug and nothing on behalf of ICHSOT until 27th October. And yet discussions had taken place before this)
  • No minutes have been taken of these meetings. (Their status is therefore somewhat confusing.)
  • No developers have enquired re Oakfield but Ford Motor Company itself has put out feelers for potential development of its own ground. (But see below.)
  • They say they consulted clubs during the earlier Playing Pitch Strategy process. (Councillors have been ill-informed as that is untrue);
  • They will be informing Sport England et al re the latest Agronomy reports when available. (Previous reports were provided only when we discovered them; they were somewhat obscure on the LBR website.)
  • Clearly they have not even considered the GLA’s ‘social infrastructure’ implications of moving grounds. (Indeed they did not appear to understand what is meant by social infrastructure, nor did they seem familiar with other GLA Policies – see below - even though these are major aspects of policy in the London Plan.)
Re the Deputation on Green Belt questions:
  • Helen Coomb asked about the number of times the Old Parks have changed grounds – which is completely irrelevant to the Green Belt issues.
  • A labour councillor asked why we had not commissioned our own independent report which suggests he has no idea what this entails nor the costs.
  • Other questions, including one from Keith Prince, our GLA Member, elicited reasons for keeping Oakfield as Green Belt and, see below, enabled us to point out that declassifying Oakfield as green belt is against GLA’s London Plan Policies.
  • We pointed to the Green Belt Review (which forms part of the SOS Representation) and to two reports by the CPRE. The first said that of 51 case studies they investigated, Oakfield is the worst example of potential Loss of Green Belt. The second rated Oakfield as of strategic importance to the whole of East London. (Thus clashing with London’s Plan.)
  • The Local Plan takes no account of the social costs of moving Oakfield clubs and the impact on London’s Social Infrastructure.
Overall, we felt they were taking a bit more interest than previously. The Council leader said nothing at all, either during questions or the deputation. Maybe this had something to do with the first part of this post.

Dr Chris Nutt
Chair Save Oakfield Society

[1] "Metropolitan Open Land" or "MOL" is a term or designation used only within London. Land designated MOL is afforded the same level of protection as the Metropolitan Green Belt. Designation is intended to protect areas of landscape, recreation, nature conservation and scientific interest which are strategically important. Any alterations to the boundary of MOL should be undertaken by Boroughs through the LDF process, in consultation with the Mayor and adjoining authorities.


  1. It looks like the termites have already been establishing themselves to the Oakfield site, two poplar trees, the habitat for so many birds, incuding hawks, have been cut down - no-one has claimed responsibility to date, still awaiting information/explanation from the Redbridge Council re this.

  2. Thanks for the update Chris. It is a well written piece.

    I have mixed feeling about this latest news as I am keen to see more housing built.

    I do hope the plan that is ultimately actioned by the council does meet the local housing demand and is pro-active. Councils and the government can not keep playing catch up with demand for houses as ordinary people will suffer in the short term and long term.

    I am glad that the Mayor Khan is sticking to his pledge as many politicians have a habit of forgetting what they have promised.

  3. well on behalf of the wildlife that inhabits the Oakfield site and beyond, I can (at least temporarily) breath a sigh of relief. There are other sites (brownfield) which should be considered for housing and again consideration should be put into place re the wildlife which inhabit these areas. Don't forget the concentration of people bring with it the variable negativisms through pollution, there is an increase in asthma and surprisingly large number of deaths from this affliction - well I hope these new homes on the blue prints have a back-door designed as no sooner people will move in through the front, they will go out feet first at the back... - yes, I do understand the need for housing, but there are so many empty properties which should be considered and upgraded first to accommodate the influx of immigrants and those who wish to hop on the property ladder.