Residents meet LBWF Housing Officers over future use of Wardley Lodge

Wardley Lodge, Preston Road

Wardley Lodge

On the evening of 18th September 2017 FORA (Forest Residents Association) members met with London Borough of Waltham Forest Housing Officers to discuss future use of Wardley Lodge 63 Preston Road, Leytonstone, E11 1RB.

In the past Wardley Lodge was run by East Thames Housing Association who provided accommodation for people with alcohol dependency issues. While local residents sympathise with people suffering from alcohol and related issues a number of concerns were expressed over the management of some of the tenants. Local residents observed drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, threatening behaviour, begging, and jaywalking. The police were often called and there were times when the management of the tenants appeared to be lacking.

FORA met with Christine Ogbonda (Head of Temporary Accommodation) and her staff at Wardley Lodge to find out future plans for the facility. Christine shared the following information:

• The facility has been leased to LBWF for 15 years from East Thames Housing Association
• It will be managed directly by LBWF
• Wardley Lodge has been refurbished to provide 23 single room units with communal areas such as kitchens and playrooms for children
• The aim is to provide medium to long term accommodation for homeless people
• Likely residents will be single parent families, older people or people escaping domestic violence
• The Council is only able to house those with the very highest need from the waiting list
• Residents have contractual obligations to abide by the law and housing rules
• Those who do not comply will be given three warnings and then their tenancy will be terminated

Christine is available to discuss any issues local residents experience and has passed her contact details on to FORA. She is committed to ensuring Wardley Lodge is well managed and does not adversely impact upon the lives of people living in the area. 

To help the new tenants of Wardley Lodge become integrated into the local community it was suggested to Christine that a list be compiled of local groups such as Doctors, Churches, Nurseries etc. A good place to start might be the FORA website where there is a page listing local groups and services https://forestresidents.org/useful-links/local-services-and-groups

New Planning Applications and Conservation

A number of planning applications which, in our view, contravene the conservation status of Upper Leytonstone have been observed recently.  Forest Residents Association remains determined and committed to protecting the special character of the area. There is a shortage of family sized housing in the borough and Leytonstone has a good stock of these houses. FORA would like to see Waltham Forest Council and Historic England uphold the conservation  order by:-

  • preventing housing being turned over to short term and or multiple occupancy
  • ensuring that listed properties are suitably maintained and protected
  • upholding the conservation order
  • supporting our community by encouraging longer term family occupancy in family housing

See here for a previous FORA post on planning

If you would like more information on these matters please get in touch

Preservation of the Leytonstone Conservation Area

The Leytonstone Conservation Area is now under threat from unsuitable planning applications and the serious neglect of a listed building. Council officers do not appear to see the bigger picture, and how they could individually and collectively lead to erosion of the character and appearance of the area.

The neglected building is a Grade II Georgian house at 133 Whipps Cross Road. Historic England has now put it on its “At Risk” Register. It describes the condition as poor and deteriorating. An application was made in 2006 to convert it into flats but was rejected by the Council.

https://historicengland.org.uk/advice/heritage-at-risk/search-register/list-entry/1287284

The spate of new planning applications should be viewed in light of Conservation Area law and local planning policy. By law, no development should be allowed in a Conservation Area if it does not enhance or preserve the character and appearance of the area. Special Planning Guidance issued by the Council says it believes conversions of houses into flats in Conservation Areas are contrary to these objectives and it will normally presume against them.  Forest Ward, in which the Conservation Area lies, has also been designated as one of the borough’s Restricted Conversions zones by the Council. This means planning permission should not normally be granted for any family house in the zone to be converted into flats, because the council wants to retain family-sized accommodation in those areas. Residents know, however, that planning decisions can sometimes be a hit-or-miss affair, and law and planning policy are not always logically applied.

An application has been made to extend the listed house adjacent to that on the “At Risk” register. It is 135 Whipps Cross Road, also Georgian and Grade II listed. The owners want to build a ground and first floor extension including loft conversion with rear dormer window. The plan incorporates the conversion of the property from three self-contained flats to five self-contained flats. The creation of the existing three flats was allowed some years before the Council designated it a Conservation Area in 1990.                                                                                                   Application Reference number 161148

Close to these two Georgian houses, still in the Conservation area, there is an unused piece of land to the rear of 111- 117 Whipps Cross Road. Yet another application has been submitted to build what’s called a bungalow on it. Similar applications have been rejected in the past. This was for good reasons including the position and small size of the land, its limited access and threat to protected trees. In 2012, permission for two bungalows was refused. In 2013, permission for one bungalow was refused, and this was again later refused on appeal. The latest application is for the construction on the land of a “two-storey, 2 bedroom bungalow”. The land backs on to houses on Fladgate Road. One resident there has looked up the Oxford Dictionary definition of bungalow. It says “A low house having only one storey or, in some cases, upper rooms set in the roof, typically with dormer windows.”

Application Reference number 161666

Applications that most blatantly go against the intention and spirit of Conservation law and local policy have been made to convert a family home at 20 Forest Glade into flats. Forest Glade is one of the most prominent and best- preserved roads in the Conservation Area. One application is for an extension to convert the house into two self-contained flats, another is for an extension to convert it into 4 self-contained flats. There is also a separate extension application. The applicant makes it clear that he is aware of the Conservation Area and local policy restrictions on flat conversions of family homes, but seeks to downplay their relevance in this case.

Application Reference numbers 161007, 161008,161092 

Please go to the council website if you wish to comment on any of the applications.