Havering Council’s plans to sell off some of its car parks in Romford and Hornchurch face opposition with a petition launched urging further public consultation.

A plan presented in a February cabinet meeting proposed disposing of five sites that could potentially remove more than 800 parking spaces from the borough.

This includes the Como Street car park, Slaney Road car park and the Angel Way multi-storey car park in Romford, as well as the Keswick Avenue and Dorrington Gardens car parks in Hornchurch.

The council has said the plan is being considered to generate more receipts organically.

It is meant to reduce the authority’s reliance on external borrowings for funding its capital investments.

It came after the 2023/24 budget was described in February as one of the “most difficult in recent memory” by cabinet member Chris Wilkins.

Opposition councillor David Taylor, who represents St Edward's ward in Romford, has concerns about the consultation process regarding the plans.

He claims to have received more than 400 signatures in support of a petition he has launched urging the council to re-consult the public.

In a video on his website, the Conservative politician accused the council's consultation of going "below the radar" and claimed that as a ward councillor he received “no notification” of it.

He said: “Letters were not sent to residents or local businesses.

"This means the cabinet may sign off the sale of the car parks without receiving public feedback."

A spokesperson for Havering Council told the Recorder that the council had published the proposal under the legal notices section of our paper on March 10.

They added that copies of the notice were displayed in each of the earmarked car parks “throughout the 21-day consultation period” since March 10.

The notices, they said, were in relation to the council’s intention to withdraw the car parks from public use.

“Any future development proposals would be subject to the usual planning consultation process," the spokesperson added.

Romford Recorder: Councillor David TaylorCouncillor David Taylor (Image: David Taylor)

The car parks could be sold to Mercury Land Holdings, a council-owned housing company, if the plan is approved.

Cllr Taylor added: “We will only then be able to object once Mercury Land Holdings applies to turn the car parks into flats.

“This is a problem as we can only object based on what are known as material planning considerations.”

He believes the impact of the sale on local businesses will not be a valid objection if a development stage is reached.

Jai Sepple, manager at Brookside Theatre in Romford, told the Recorder that the sale of the Slaney Road car park would have a “devastating” impact on the business.

Romford Recorder: Jai Sepple, theatre manager / artistic director of Brookside Theatre in RomfordJai Sepple, theatre manager / artistic director of Brookside Theatre in Romford (Image: Jai Sepple)

He has been running the community theatre for about 12 years after restoring the building. 

Jai claimed that he had seen no notice of plans to sell the Slaney Road car park and only found out about the proposal last week.

Even when the site was shut temporarily a few years ago, their number of visitors had dropped considerably, he recalled.

Losing the car park entirely in the coming months, he added, would “pretty much finish them”.

He added: “A lot of people who come into the theatre in the evening don’t want to walk through Romford. We get a lot of senior members of the community who have mobility issues."

The Slaney Road car park, he said, is often “busy”. He questioned the council’s basis for earmarking the site as one that could be sold.

He said: “It’s ridiculous because the car park is used."

He and some of the other local businesses, he said, would soon be meeting with Cllr Taylor to demand a fairer consultation.