'Little consideration of us': Backlash against development as council offers reassurance of 'positive change'
- Credit: Chantelle Billson
Neighbours who will be affected by blocks to be built as part of the Waterloo Estate regeneration have spoken out about feeling ignored by the council.
With plans to build 1,380 homes on Romford’s Waterloo Estate approved, including blocks ranging from three to 16 storeys tall, residents of Cotleigh Road spoke to this newspaper about their concerns over the impact of the development and lack of “appropriate green space”.
Havering Council leader Cllr Damian White said the regeneration will include flexible commercial and community floor space, open areas, highways improvements and a central cycle route to make it a "desirable" place to live within walking distance of Romford Town Centre.
He also disputed the claims that residents were not properly involved in the design process - he said their concerns "were not only looked at and listened to, but also helped to shape the proposals".
Maxine James, 53, accused the council of not being “transparent” or giving “enough information” to residents.
The mother-of-three said: “I think it will be overpopulated; I understand the regeneration but there isn’t sufficient green space.
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"The council haven’t thought about the impact on residents.”
Claiming it was a “fight” to get a consultation with the developers, Cotleigh Road resident of 16 years Angelina Leatherbarrow feels “very little” consideration has been given for the people who will live with building works for the next decade.
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She said: “In principle, we [the residents] agree that there needs to be more housing but there is concern about the massive increase in properties."
The mother of two said she worried about the long-term impact that breathing in the dust could have on her two daughters.
She said: “We don't feel listened to and we want regular communication that will inform us about the works and address our fears and concerns.”
Angelina also raised concerns about Cottons Park being earmarked as play space, as children will have to cross a "busy main road” to reach it.
77-year-old Sandy Mendhan, who has lived on Cotleigh Road for 23 years, said she is “very disappointed” because “as much as homes are needed”, she will have a high-rise block overlooking her back garden.
Having contemplated moving house as a result of the regeneration, Sandy said: “At my age, I want to feel settled and thought to myself, 'why should I have to move?'
"But several houses in the road have been sold.”
Cllr Damian White said the council and development partners Wates Residential involved residents throughout the design process to ensure their "concerns they have had were not only looked at and listened to, but also helped to shape the proposals".
Steps were taken to "ensure the height and distance" of proposed new blocks from Cotleigh Road was acceptable, he said, "as outlined" in the report to the strategic planning committee.
He said: “Every step has been taken to involve residents throughout the process and to help ensure that the change is a positive one which improves the area in which they live.”
Resident Caroline Lathan, 71, has lived on Cotleigh Road for 20 years and said she is not happy about the building as “a lot of money” was spent refurbishing the estate around 10 years ago with "good quality housing".
She hopes the regeneration will turn out well, but is concerned that since the Covid-19 pandemic people will want properties with a garden rather than “glitzy houses”.
Cllr White confirmed 556 of the new homes will be affordable (409 for rent and 147 low-cost home ownership), compared to only 202 units of council rented housing that existed on the former estate.
He also said window frames have been recycled from the estate and, where possible, other improvements that were made in the previous regeneration.