Romford Ice Rink developer responds to action group's concerns
- Credit: Lee Power
A local action group has slammed plans to build 1,050 homes on the old Romford Ice Rink site.
The Rom Way Action Group (RWAG) - a collection of residents from Rom Crescent and Hornford Way - say the proposed plans amount to a "monstrosity".
Its members believe that the application - should the final version pass when expected before the committee next spring - risks "turning the town into a concrete jungle ghetto".
However the developer insists it will not mean increased traffic and new health facilities will ease pressure on Queen's Hospital.
The plans - headed up by developer Impact Capital Group - were discussed by the council’s strategic planning committee on December 9, with concerns relating to the number of houses, sunlight and traffic all raised on the night.
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The RWAG has since added its voice to the scepticism, identifying a number of issues that can broadly be placed into four categories: amenities, healthcare, pollution and traffic.
Each was put to the developer by the Recorder, with responses provided by CEO Nick Shattock.
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On this point, the RWAG asked: "How many homes can the town support in such a dense location? There is no thought given to the resources within the town such as policing, transport, healthcare, etc."
With healthcare addressed as a specific issue, the developer's response to this query centred on policing: "We are of course liaising with the police on Secure by Design."
Capacity concerns are a key part of RWAG's opposition to the development. It alleges that Queen's Hospital is "already on the brink as it is", adding: "What does 1,050 homes mean, say two per home - another 2,000+ plus in the area?"
Alongside querying the developer on capacity as a general issue, the Recorder also asked about specific plans to manage the influx of older tenants.
On the general issue, Mr Shattock said the committee has been advised of "our plans for 3,000m² clinician, outpatient and diagnostic MRI space within our development", all of which "frees up more space in Queen's Hospital".
The developer says that about 250 units, or roughly 25 per cent, would be Later Living with Care and Extra Care, which in planning terms is for over 55s, although the average age of occupancy of similar developments was 78.
On the precise question of managing an older-age population, Mr Shattock said: "The care and extra care provided in the 250 Later Living units should relieve the pressure on Queen's Hospital."
The expectation is that "all residents will be relocating from within 10 miles of the site, with the vast majority from Havering".
RWAG says: "This is already the most polluted area in Havering as told to us by Councillor Robert Benham (Brooklands, Con).
"People have cars and need to get to work and most still buy cars. This will lead to more pollution."
In its response the developer referred to the period when plans to build 620 homes were granted: "Air quality tests were passed then and with the use of hybrid vehicles and electric cars only increasing. We expect better analysis results this time."
RWAG described the traffic around the Queen's Hospital area as "horrendous", claiming that it is a long-standing problem about which "nothing has been done".
On this subject, the developer said: "There will be no increase in traffic. There will be fewer car trips than the consented residential scheme and the consent for Morrisons supermarket.
"We have extensive modelling and have engaged with TfL and Havering Highways Department. Car clubs and car parking will be predominantly for the disabled, families and the Later Living only."
This application - referred to by Mr Shattock above - was granted in 2018 but never went ahead, with the Impact Capital Group since taking up the project.
When asked what will be done between now and spring to allay concerns, he said: "We have further meetings with the Havering planning/urban design teams and councillors planned for the new year."
A spokesperson for Havering Council said: "The proposal is not subject to a planning application at the moment, therefore the council is not able to comment at this pre-application submission stage.
“Once a planning application is submitted, those interested in the proposal can then submit comments to the council, and they will be taken into account."