Heaton councillors: not enough schools, healthcare or parking for new homes in Harold Hill

Harold Hill councillors have expressed concern at a possible lack of healthcare, school and parking provisions to support 800 new homes planned in the area.

Four new housing developments – at Gooshays Drive, the Briar Road Estate, Hilldene North and East and the site of the former Whitworth Centre – are planned in Heaton and Gooshays. The largest two of these have been approved, totalling 436 new homes, with the remaining two due to come before the council’s planning committee later this year.

But Cllr Keith Darvill told the Recorder: “There doesn’t seem to be enough planning for medical services.

“It might at the moment be adequate but they need to be increasing at the future and I am conscious that healthcare budgets aren’t increasing.”

An NHS North East London and the City spokesman said: “All of our plans for future healthcare provision are based on population predictions. Havering is experiencing a period of growth at the moment and will continue to do so in coming years. GP commissioners in the borough will be working with a range of partners and providers to make sure that the public are able to access the right service for their needs and that the health care available to them is flexible to the changing and emerging needs of our residents.”

NHS Outer North-East London, the body replaced by NHS North-East London and the City earlier this month, predicted in its 2012 commissioning plan that Havering would see 5,000 new patients over the next five years. No figures were available for the projected number of new patients in Harold Hill over the same period.

Cllr Darvill also expressed concern about the provision of school places in the area after the homes have been built.

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“Quite a few of these [new tenants] are likely to be young families,” he said. “Four large developments are going to give rise to short-term problems.”

Cllr Paul McGeary, who sits on the planning committee, added: “I’m a school governor at St Ursula’s infant school [which serves Harold Hill] and last year we had 100 applications for 60 places – so it’s greatly concerning.

“I also deal with appeals. Last year, we had families coming to appeal and being offered places in Romford and Hornchurch. [The council] say it’s all taken care of but the evidence may suggest otherwise.”

Cllr Steven Kelly, deputy leader of the council and the lead member for Harold Hill Ambitions, said: “Our Harold Hill Ambitions programme has seen investment to improve housing and education in Harold Hill, including the new Drapers’ Academy, which is under construction on the site of the former Kings Wood School and will be completed this September.

“We are also looking at providing additional primary school places by expanding some schools in the area. As soon as our plans have been finalised we will be sharing them with residents.”

But Cllr McGeary said he didn’t think the planning was adequate. “It’s a trend which needs to be looked at and taken account of,” he said. “At the moment I’m not convinced that it’s being planned enough.”

Cllr McGeary has also expressed concern about the amount of parking that would be available to the new homes, and the potential impact on the area’s streets. But Cllr Kelly said parking provision was taken care of – for instance, some garage parking will be transferred to parking in front of houses so that there is no reduction in spaces. “Everything has parking,” he said. “I don’t see how we could have done more parking spaces.”

Cllr McGeary disputed this. “The problem with there is that there’s already congested parking on the road,” he said. “Planning requirements are such that you only need two spaces for a three bedroom house. Some houses will need more. You are looking at more of an impact on a congested parking area and certain areas in Harold Hill will be a lot worse.”