Highams Park Forum
A group of local people all interested in the betterment of life in their area.

History of the Tesco Proposals for Highams Park




 

14AUG09

A Short History of the Tesco proposals for Highams Park

Tesco have been trying for many years to redevelop the former C&A Warehouse site with a giant supermarket and the Forum have been at the forefront of opposing these unacceptable proposals. Waltham Forest Council are currently considering the third planning application from Tesco.

The Forum are not against the principal of a Tesco on the site but have consistently argued that its size and scale is much too big to meet the needs of the Neighbourhood Centre of Highams Park and therefore should be refused permission.

Following representations from the Forum, the first application in 2003 was refused by the Council's Planning Committee, contrary to officers' recommendation to approve. The Forum's concerns centred on the size and scale of the Tesco, poor integration with the existing shopping centre, harm to its vitality and its unacceptable impact on traffic congestion.

Tesco returned in 2005 with an amended application; a slightly smaller Tesco with more residential flats. It was pleasing to note that some of the concerns raised by the Forum had been addressed in this proposal. In particular the store had been reoriented on the site to better integrate with the shopping centre, and the loading bays had been relocated further from the houses in Selwyn Avenue, but most of the major issues remained. Despite none of the main concerns being addressed, the Council's Planning Committee resolved to grant planning permission for this application in September 2005.

Any planning application of this scale also has to be approved by the Mayor of London, and following the Council's decision, the Mayor directed Waltham Forest to refuse planning permission. The Mayor ruled that the application should be refused because of lack of amenity space for future residents, and failure to make commitments to the London Plan principles of sustainable development. However, after some amendments the Mayor withdrew his objection.

Following representations from the Highams Park Forum and others, the Government Office for London intervened and asked for the application to be "called in" for a public inquiry. The application became the first to be called in by new Communities and Local Government Minister (at that time) Ruth Kelly.

The Forum had to act on its own at the inquiry in January 2007 and Forum members prepared extensive evidence supporting its objections. The extensive Tesco legal and technical team was supported by the Waltham Forest team and members of the Forum presented the major part of the evidence which led to the Secretary of State's decision to refuse planning permission in June 2007.

The Secretary for State broadly supported the Forum's concerns and her reasons for refusal included:
- scale is inappropriate for Highams Park;
- strong reservations about the visual impact of the proposed scheme;
- poor relationship to the existing shopping centre; and
- inadequate quality of the design of the retail and residential elements.

The current application with the Council was submitted in August 2008, and has a slightly larger sized Tesco. However, the main difference from the second application is the increase in the number of residential units from 78 to 261, including terraced housing. This is achieved by putting the Tesco on the first floor and providing the Tesco parking underneath, thereby providing more space for the residential area.

While accepting that the relationship to the current shops in Highams Park is better, the main concerns of the Forum concerning the overdevelopment of the site, the visual impact and the impact on traffic congestion have not been addressed and indeed are worsened with the increased number of residents. As well as adding to traffic and parking pressures, approval of this current application would add unacceptable pressure on local schools and health facilities.

The LBWF Planning committee will meet 8th September 2009 to decide on the latest Tesco proposal. The Forum is continuing to lobby Waltham Forest Council and the Mayor of London.

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