Councillors approve £250,000 restaurant in Romford Market despite ‘unprecedented’ 900 objections at the final count
PUBLISHED: 13:00 03 February 2017
The decision to give a town centre regeneration project the green light was met with jeers by market traders, society members and residents.
Seven councillors decided to vote through the motion last night at the town hall despite hearing about another 200 objections – adding to the 700 already known.
This meant Havering Council received more than 900 objections and just 14 letters of support at the final count.
Councillors were deciding on whether a restaurant with a roof terrace should be constructed in a bid to “halt the decline” of the historic market.
The proposal is part of a £220m London-wide project funded by TfL to improve transport, town centre and public space improvements.
Havering is set to gain £2.3m with £250,000 set aside for Market House.
Andrew Curtin, of Romford’s Civic Society spoke passionately at the meeting telling councillors that the application “breaks planning policy and therefore has to be rejected”.
His speech ultimately fell on deaf ears with only three councillors objecting.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Curtin said: “The meeting has made the proposal even more confused.
“At various stages of the meeting councillors were told the area in front of the church would be grassed over, be a children’s play site, have seats on it, and be where wedding cars parked for the church.
“Nothing takes away from the fact that a building in the location approved is contrary to planning policy.”
“900 objections to a proposal is absolutely unprecedented in Romford.”
When questioned, Havering Council’s planning control manager Simon Thelwell said officers believed the proposal did not break planning policy as “public benefit outweighed impact on listed buildings”.
A number of councillors on the regulatory services committee spoke at length about the proposal.
Cllr Reg Whitney, of the Residents’ Group, said: “I do not know what this proposal will do for the market as such but sometimes we have to move with the times”.
Cllr Michael White, of the Conservative Party, said: “I was in Romford Market yesterday speaking to market traders and they are crying out for something.
“I do believe on balance that Market House will provide a lifeline for the market.”
Linda Hawthorn, of the East Havering Residents’ Group, was one of three councillors who objected.
She said: “I am totally against this proposal, it’s an upper class restaurant with most of the trade being done in the evening, it will not help regenerate the market.”
There is no start date for construction but preparation work in the market began last month with workers carrying out tests on soil conditions.
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