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More than 1,300 people sign petition opposing planned development near former RAF Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 November 2020 | UPDATED: 15:13 10 November 2020

Mark Smith, Violet Jones, Sheila Watts and Latifa Razzaque at a protest held before the second lockdown opposing plans for a 21-home development on land north of Cavendish Avenue, Elm Park. Picture: Mohammad Razzaque

Mark Smith, Violet Jones, Sheila Watts and Latifa Razzaque at a protest held before the second lockdown opposing plans for a 21-home development on land north of Cavendish Avenue, Elm Park. Picture: Mohammad Razzaque

Mohammad Razzaque

Hundreds of people have signed a petition opposing plans for a 21-home development on an estate near to the site of a former RAF base.

Anchor Hanover has applied to Havering Council for planning permission for the units on land north of Cavendish Avenue, in Elm Park.

If approved, the proposals would see two three-storey blocks built and would provide accommodation on ‘affordable’ rent for over-55’s.

Under the plans, 10 horse chestnut trees would be cut down that Cavendish Avenue resident Susan Smith said were planted for officers’ accommodation serving at the former RAF Hornchurch.

She explained that residents are “very proud” to live on the estate, which also includes Cavendish Crescent and Park Lane.

Susan has lived in the road with her husband for 26 years and helped to set up a petition against the proposals, which has been signed more than 1,300 times.

She said: “Should this build be given the go ahead by the council’s planning department it will irrevocably change the look of this estate with its unique heritage.

“We get loads of kids come to pick up the conkers. The trees bring a lot to the borough.”

Simon Abel-Barton, 68, has lived in Park Lane for 10 years and his uncle, who was killed in 1940, flew from RAF Hornchurch.

Simon said he would move out if the development is completed.

“It is a beautiful place to live,” he added. “We have got bats in the evenings, hedgehogs running around. It is nice to be able to live in a situation where it is lovely and you can spend your last few years enjoying it.

“Having all this done is going to be a nightmare with traffic and everything else.

“It is just a profit-making thing and they are not thinking about the people who live here.”

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Residents held a protest just before the second lockdown was announced, which was attended by Elm Park councillors Stephanie Nunn and Barry Mugglestone - Cllr Nunn said they are “well aware” of the impact the planned development could have on the historic location.

Keith Prince, London Assembly member for Havering and Redbridge, also went to the demonstration and felt the proposal is “inappropriate”.

He said: “It is not in keeping with the existing buildings. It will mean loss of green and amenity space, the loss of mature trees but, more than all of this, it will fundamentally ruin the look, appearance and feel of the whole community.”

The residents are also supported in their opposition by Elm Park councillor Sally Miller, who has called the application in to be discussed by a council planning committee.

She said: “I am concerned about the loss of green space, particularly as many of the residents have enjoyed sitting in the sun whilst we were in the first lockdown.

“I am also concerned about the number of mature trees which will be destroyed by the developers and that the new three storey buildings will really change the outlook of the area which is of such important historic value.”

Anchor Hanover currently manages 54 properties with shared gardens in Cavendish Avenue and Park Lane, though there are other private houses on the estate.

Nick Hodgskin, senior development manager at Anchor Hanover, said it will be replacing the 10 mature trees with 35 new trees on the site.

He added: “The changing needs of our ageing society means there is a demand for specialist housing and as a not-for profit provider of care and housing for people in later life, we are keen to work with communities to meet that demand.

“Our waiting list shows there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing for older people in Hornchurch and our proposal to provide 21 affordable new apartments at Cavendish Avenue will see us make these homes available to local people at a social rent.

“We want to maintain the integrity of the site and plan to utilise private land within the footprint of the existing retirement scheme.

“As part of the proposals we will create two new garden areas, including a sensory garden, designed by a group of residents for them to enjoy.

“We will continue to work with residents and the local authority on our proposal to provide homes where older people love living in later life.”

To view the petition, visit bit.ly/2U5548S.


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