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People power loses out in battle for former Harold Wood Hospital site

PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 October 2010

THERE were raised voices and angry exchanges at Havering Town Hall after councillors ignored protests by an army of 500 residents and gave the go ahead for a controversial development to build homes on the former Harold Wood Hospital site.

THERE were raised voices and angry exchanges in Havering Town Hall after councillors ignored protests by an army of 500 residents and gave the go ahead for a controversial development to build homes on the former Harold Wood Hospital site.

The Regulatory Services Committee voted for Countryside Properties to build 810 homes on the site, in Gubbins Lane, Harold Wood, on Thursday evening (October 28).

Cllr Brian Eagling (Residents’ Group, Harold Wood), speaking outside of the meeting, said: “I feel absolutely gutted for the people of Harold Wood.

“The committee voted in favour of the application without thinking about the impact its going to have on Harold Wood and the people living with it.”

The proposals will see the building of 810 homes and 90 apartments.

The committee also gave planning consent for the refurbishment and preservation of a grade two listed building, The Grange, which will also be converted into 15 homes on the site.

As part of the agreement, Countryside Properties has promised to give £3 million of funding to the schools in the area and for health and transport facilities.

But earlier objectors were lulled into a false sense of security that the application would be deferred after concerns from some of the councillors about the affect the development would have on the area, but instead the committee voted to push the application ahead.

Cllr Linda Van Den Hende (Residents’ Group, Upminster) feared that the development would put extra stress on education resulting in children being taught in portacabins.

She said: “Whether it is flats or houses there are going to be young families and we are already stretched in terms of education and I want to know how they will be accommodating these kids that might come into the area.”

There were also objections from Cllr Mark Logan, (Independent Local Residents’ Group, Rainham And Wennington)

who said: “The design of the development is out of character in comparison to the rest of the area.

“There will also be the pressure on the infrastructure of Harold Wood especially the railway station.”

The committee also heard objections from residents who were against the application because of the impact it would have on the area.

Resident Cat Trinder said: “The proposed design demonstrates no understanding of the character of Harold Wood, forcing an urban feel on our suburban home.

“Station Road, and its junction with Gubbins Lane is the heart of Harold Wood. It is a brick built, two storey, 1930s shopping parade.”

But Mr Tony Travers, speaking on behalf of Countryside Properties argued that the development would have many benefits, he said: “Countryside have more than 50 years track record in building family homes and we have been recognised with a number of awards over the years.

“This application has consisted of more than two years of work with the leaseholders and it helps us to put this site back into the community.”

Before the meeting, the committee was met by a sea of protesters, waving placards, and armed with banners, a megaphone and whistles.

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