'It's a scandal': Questions over delayed Romford masterplan to stop overdevelopment

Andrew Curtin from the Romford Civic Society

Romford Civic Society chair Andrew Curtin - Credit: Archant

Concerns about overdevelopment have prompted fresh calls for Romford's planning masterplan started three years ago. 

Leader of Havering Council, Cllr Damian White, said the document had been delayed because the local authority was unable to “progress the Romford masterplan until the adoption of the Local Plan, which has now taken place”.  

A public consultation on the Romford masterplan - which is a blueprint and vision for what planning is acceptable in Romford - was held in January 2019 and was followed by an exhibition in the Liberty Shopping Centre in May.  

In an engagement report produced in 2019, it said that a consultation and adaptation of the masterplan was planned for spring/summer 2020. 

It notes that the masterplan would set an "overarching vision for the place Romford should become" and lay out parameters for investment, while also outlining a framework for deciding planning applications. 

But since 2019, the Romford Civic Society has grown increasingly concerned that big developments are being approved before the plan is adopted.  

The group says it was alerted by the London Forum of Civic and Amenity Societies that, where local policies are not in place and when applicants appeal, it is difficult to defend why proposals to build tall buildings are refused.

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To prevent this from being an issue, the London group recommended supplementary planning documents or area plans are put in place until a Local Plan comes into force.  

Romford Civic Society chair Andrew Curtin said: “A big town like Romford requires careful planning to have an enjoyable, clean and safe environment.   

“It is a scandal that after three years, and no doubt a huge amount of tax-payers’ money, the Romford masterplan still has not been published.” 

Cllr White said: “After the local elections, the authority will be in a position to bring forward any supplementary planning documents that are required.” 

Since 2019 several larger applications have been granted planning permission in Havering, including an application to build 120 new homes on a college campus in Harold Hill and plans for 1,380 homes on Romford's Waterloo Estate, which led neighbours living close to the site to share with this newspaper that they felt "ignored"