Residents near Hornchurch leisure centre reveal concern over amended landscape mound plans

A photo taken from the back of a property in Wallis Close on November 18. Photo: Geoff Vorley

A photo taken from the back of a property in Wallis Close on November 18. Photo: Geoff Vorley - Credit: Geoff Vorley

Residents near to a new leisure centre in Hornchurch have revealed their frustration after amended plans were submitted for landscaped mounds near their properties.

A photo taken from the back of a property in Wallis Close on November 15. Photo: Tina Vorley

A photo taken from the back of a property in Wallis Close on November 15. Photo: Tina Vorley - Credit: Tina Vorley

The Recorder reported in August on concerns from Wallis Close residents about a mound of earth that overlooked their homes on land near to the centre’s construction site in Harrow Lodge Park.

Tina Vorley said she and neighbouring residents have had to put up with the mound for months.

Havering Council’s cabinet member for culture and leisure, Viddy Persaud, confirmed the mound was not permanent and would be moved when an application for landscaping to the surrounding area of the new leisure centre, which included mounds, has finished.

An amended version of the application has now been put forward which will still see landscaped mounds formed in the park, including near to the Wallis Close properties, and this has enraged Tina and other residents.


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She said: “Leaving a landscaped mound will still potentially cause security and privacy issues, flood issues, anti-social behaviour and a mound that is not in keeping with the park.

“For the residents of Wallis Close, it feels that they are not being considered and that Havering have listened and are still doing what they want to do with no thought for the residents.”

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Construction is well underway on the facility, to be named Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre, which will include a 25 metre eight-lane swimming pool, a 20m-wide learning and diving pool and a health and fitness suite.

Tina said: “Whilst the front of the leisure centre is beautiful, unless you live in Wallis Close you will have no concept of what has been left behind.”

A letter sent by planning consultants DHA in support of the amended plans said the changes increase the distance from the boundary of the Wallis Close properties to the mounding and that the proposed level is “significantly reduced” from that seen during construction.

It also says grass will be infrequently cut to discourage use of this part of the site and that trees are planned near the top of the mound to “enhance screening”.

The letter added that it will result in more spoil being proposed for use to the east of the planned car park, as well as a further planning application to regrade land to the south-west of the site.

The St Leonards Hamlet Residents Society made a submission to the council opposing the plans which said: “We understand that some of the spoil will be moved into the adjoining area of the park thereby impacting even more properties in Pett Close, Creasey Close and Henderson Close.

“We are sure that you would not want to see a huge mound outside your property so why should our residents have to put up with it?”

Council leader Damian White said: “Following feedback from residents earlier this year, we made amendments to the planning application for the new Harrow Lodge Leisure Centre to reflect concerns raised about the raised landscaped area near their boundary. The new plans propose to move the raised landscaped area approximately 30 metres away from the resident’s boundaries, along with planting trees, which we believe alleviates the security concerns raised by the residents.

“We will soon be holding a meeting with the residents to discuss their concerns over the amended application, and have agreed not to make any firm decisions on the landscaped area until after this meeting.”

Cllr Ray Morgon, opposition leader on the council, told the Recorder that he has challenged the council on why the amended application is not allowed to be called in.

He added: “I think a ward councillor should be able to call it in so it gets put in front of the planning committee. If you have amended the original application, then why can’t we call it in?”

A council spokesperson said: “A planning application can be called in by a councillor within a set timeframe from when the application is first submitted.

“No call-in was received from members. As we are now outside the call-in time window, and the changes made have lessened the impact of the proposal, there is no provision for the matter to be brought before committee.”

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