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Planning committee defers proposal to continue work on half-built 'monstrosity' for 16-storey tower block in Romford town centre

PUBLISHED: 22:51 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 22:51 16 May 2019

The block in North Street has been stood empty since 2010. Picture: John Hercock

The block in North Street has been stood empty since 2010. Picture: John Hercock

Archant

Plans to build a 16-storey building which would be a mix of homes and retail space on a "derelict" construction site was once again deferred tonight.

An artist's impressions of how the first set of joint proposals for the Angel Way and North Street developments would have looked. Slight adjustments have been made during the consultation process. Picture: Regency HomesAn artist's impressions of how the first set of joint proposals for the Angel Way and North Street developments would have looked. Slight adjustments have been made during the consultation process. Picture: Regency Homes

Havering Council's strategic planning committee met at the town hall to discuss the proposal put forward by Regency Homes to provide 98 new homes as well as office, community, and retail spaces, 32 car parking spaces and cycle storage for 63 bikes at the 23-55 North Street development in Romford.

The concrete structure stands between the site of the old Decathlon in Angel Way and North Street but has stood empty since work on a previous 16-storey scheme was halted in 2010.

The committee decided tonight, Thursday, May 16, that the application should be deferred for a third time.

Cllr Reg Whitney said: "This building just seems to be stacking residents on top of each other - it is 2019 not 1819.

"We have got to consider the residents and not just the developers, we are here to ensure that the residents of Havering and those looking to move to Havering get suitable homes.

"I am very concerned about this, it is extremely higher than what we would usually approve."

The application first appeared before the committee on January 10 2019, when members deferred it so that designers could explore whether or not lower areas of the site could be raised in order to reduce the height of the highest towers - the committee also wanted to see more affordable housing provided on the site.

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The plan was then deferred again at its second meeting on April 25, this time over a technical consideration regarding whether or not the site was located within the Romford Conservation Area.

Havering Council's planning officers have now confirmed that a small area on the front of the site, just 1.5pc of it, currently lies within the Romford Conservation Area which The Golden Lion pub, High Street, and the Parish Church of St Edward the Confessor, are part of.

Cllr Timothy Ryan said: "We have to be very very careful not to set a precedent of approving buildings that are too high and don't fit in with the character of the area and think carefully about whether this is the right development.

"That part of Romford is very valuable, we have got The Golden Lion and I feel we need to focus more on the history rather than the profit."

Cllr Maggie Themistocli continued: "This building will be at the forefront of Romford, it will be one of the first things people see as they go towards the roundabout and as a member of this community, I do not feel comfortable saying that I would feel proud to say that we have said this is an acceptable development in a historic market town.

"It [the site] is a monstrosity at the moment but it has already been almost 10 years so we need to make sure it is the right development for the area, that is crucial to Romford and the whole of the borough."

Cllr Linda Hawthorn opted in to refuse the planning application altogether but it was soon decided that the application would be deferred.

Andrew Curtin from the Romford Civic Society said: "I'm happy with the decision that it's been deferred, I think there was a lot of good debates going on about the development so good to see that it is being properly thought through and discussed.

"We do understand that developments are going to be built but it is important that we keep the conservation area in tact and make sure that these buildings are still keeping in with the rest of the area, especially as that is going to be the view that a lot of people will see coming into Romford."

In a message to the developers, Cllr Themistocli added: "This is for the greater good of Romford and next time it will either be a yes or a no, so look at the surrounding area, look at its history and think about what is going to fit in with that part of the town."

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