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Havering planning committee to weigh in on proposed 16-storey Romford town centre tower block

PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 May 2019

The block in North Street has been stood empty since 2010. Picture: John Hercock

The block in North Street has been stood empty since 2010. Picture: John Hercock

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Plans to build a 16-storey tower block providing 98 new homes and office and retail spaces at a "dilapidated" construction site in Romford Town Centre will go before the borough's strategic planning committee on Thursday (May 16).

An artist's impressions of how the first set of joint proposals for the Angel Way and North Street developments would have looked. Slight adjustments have been made during the consultation process. Picture: Regency HomesAn artist's impressions of how the first set of joint proposals for the Angel Way and North Street developments would have looked. Slight adjustments have been made during the consultation process. Picture: Regency Homes

The site at 23-55 North Street will be familiar to many as the skeletal grey concrete structure that stands between the site of the old Decathlon in Angel Way and North Street proper.

Current plans for the site, which has stood empty since work on a previous 16-storey scheme was halted in 2010, would see the finished building provide 98 new homes, as well as new retail spaces, offices and community facilities on the ground floor.

Under the new scheme, being proposed by Regency Homes, there would be room in the building's basement for 32 car parking spaces - 10 of which would be disabled bays - and cycle storage for 63 bikes.

According to Havering's planners this is "a significant shortfall" compared to the 164 which should be supplied under London's current housing framework and "is not considered acceptable".

Of the 98 new homes, 20 would be affordable - rented or sold at 80pc of market value - and of those 10 would be affordable rent and 10 would be shared ownership.

A previous application, to build a 16-storey tower block containing 86 homes on the site was rejected by the council over height concerns, but approved upon appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in 2006.

Regency Homes is also responsible for the currently stalled construction work taking place in Angel Way which was originally intended to be a £60million scheme to provide 350 homes and a 65-bed hotel.

According to the report going before Havering's strategic planning committee: "Whilst the Angel Way development site is currently stalled, it is under the

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control of the applicant for the subject application [Regency Homes].

"It is understood that should permission be granted for the subject application it is [Regency Homes]'s intention to deliver development to completion on both the application site and the stalled Angel Way site."

This new North Street scheme has already been before the borough's strategic planning committee twice.

It first appeared before the committee on January 10 2019, when the committee deferred it so that designers to explore whether or not lower areas of the site could be raised in order to reduce the height of the highest towers - the committee also wanted to see more affordable housing provided on the site.

The plan was then deferred again at its second meeting on April 25, this time over a technical consideration regarding whether or not the site was located within the Romford Conservation Area.

Havering Council's planning officers have now confirmed that a small area of the site, just 1.5pc of it, currently lies within the Romford Conservation Area.

The report adds: "The existing building is causing significant harm to the character and appearance of the area making it appear dilapidated.

"The proposed scheme would result in a good level of design that would improve the appearance of the area."

A consultation was carried out which saw 529 neighbouring properties notified and invited to comment - nine neighbours responded, seven objections and two statements of support.

The Gidea Park Civic Society and Romford Civic Society both also filed objections over the size of the tower block and the way in which it would hinder future development of the Romford Ring Road.

In response, a Havering planning officer pointed out that the council itself had already thrown out a similar application once, but that its decision had been overturned on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

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