Report by James Cracknell
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has approved the planned redevelopment of The Mall in Walthamstow town centre – after the quota of ‘affordable’ housing was increased.
The council had previously granted planning permission for a scheme of 500 homes, with 20 percent being designated as ‘affordable’ shared ownership properties.
But the Mayor has stepped in to help raise this to 30 percent, including homes for ‘affordable’ rent. Following negotiations with the council, The Mall’s owners Capital & Regional have now agreed to this.
It follows a significant backlash against the scheme, with thousands of people signing a petition and hundreds attending a protest last month in Walthamstow Town Square and Gardens. As well as the lack of affordable housing, residents have criticised the height of the proposed towers – at up to 29 storeys more than double the height of the Travelodge hotel – and the loss of one third of public open space.
Sadiq Khan said: “Today is an important day in the delivery of genuinely affordable homes in Waltham Forest – an area of the capital which has seen significant pressure on housing and a sharp rise in property prices in recent years – and we have listened carefully to the local community.”
The Mayor helped secure an additional £7.3million contribution from Capital & Regional that will be used to build the new homes for affordable rent in Walthamstow. The council is now looking at the potential for its housing development company – newly named Sixty Bricks – to support the delivery of additional affordable rent homes linked to The Mall.
Transport for London has also agreed to spend £15m to improve Walthamstow Underground Station by creating a new entrance that will increase accessibility and reduce overcrowding. Capital & Regional has already agreed to contribute £1.5m towards this work.
The plans to redevelop The Mall were approved by the council’s planning committee in December. The council claims the scheme will bring in £200m of private investment, with a greatly expanded shopping centre creating 350 permanent retail jobs.
While the town square will be significantly reduced in size, it will be re-designed. Dozens of mature trees will also be felled to make way for the scheme, but the council has vowed that for every tree removed from the site five more will be planted elsewhere in the borough.
Council leader, Councillor Clare Coghill, said: “The Mayor’s decision to approve the redevelopment of The Mall in Walthamstow will radically improve the town centre, replacing the existing town square and shopping centre which is tired, underused and not good enough for our residents.
“A new and expanded Mall will give a significant boost to the local economy, giving our residents the opportunity to shop in the borough rather than going further afield, which has a detrimental effect on our local economy.”
The target for ‘affordable’ homes in Waltham Forest – which can still cost up to 80 percent of their market value – is 50 percent.