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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Overdelopment: Promises were made and they are not being kept.

When it comes to Romford, one of the most hotly debated topics is overdevelopment. The town has seen a rapid increase in our population and huge developments are planned all over the town. This is, perhaps, why the HRA made pre-election promises to stop this.


Unfortunately, these were either promises that can’t be kept or promises that there was no intention of keeping. Either way, residents deserve better.


Romford is no stranger to campaigns against overdevelopment, they pop up every election. And, after every election, new developments are agreed. We’ve got Bridge Close, the old ice rink site, the Seedbed Centre, and maybe at some point the Waterloo Estate. Post election, the HRA have added more to this collection of new developments, with Angel Way and Como Street both singled out for new homes.


We need new homes in Havering, but we need homes and not hutches. Unfortunately, the development planned for Como Street consists of a 12 storey tower block. It will be built next to the River Rom and in an area that has, today, received flood warnings.


Pre-election, the local HRA candidates shoved leaflets through doors that made two promises.

“The HRA will”, it said, “challenge housing targets set by Conservative government and the Labour Mayor”. Sounds reasonable.

 

“The HRA will”, it continued, “ensure infrastructure is agreed before development takes place.” Lovely, we can all get behind that.


But this just isn’t happening. Either these were promises that can’t be kept or they are promises that there was never any intention of keeping.



The HRA's pre-election promises

 

Large developments were approved under the Conservative / RA coalition in the last administration. These were mostly, however, put forward by private developers. These developments are hard to stop without facing consequences from government or the Mayor. In fact, Havering was even threatened with being stripped of its planning powers. What is different now is that it is the council themselves who are putting forward these plans. Just two years after promising to tackle overdevelopment.


On May 1st, the HRA Cabinet Member for Regeneration gave a 15 minute interview with the Havering Daily. The interview opened with the Cabinet member complaining about government housing targets, 5 minutes in and it’s now the fault of the last administration. After 10 minutes we’re back to blaming government again for the housing targets.


Finally, the Cabinet member tells us he has a plan, but doesn’t reveal what it is and it’s back to complaining about the government.

 

What irks people about this is that we’re now two years into this new administration. We’ve had two years of the HRA and Labour running things and nothing seems to be any different. New developments are being put forward, but this time they are coming from the council and not private developers. A Masterplan is apparently on the way, but the council is pushing for its tower-blocks now, before the plan is in place.

 

As someone who works in social housing, I understand the sector and I understand the need. I understand the struggles around planning and I understand the constraints on local councils.


What I can’t understand is politicians making promises that they know full well they cannot keep.


There is a surefire way to make sure that Romford isn’t swamped by tower-blocks. The council must propose something better.

 

Como Street and Angel Way car parks are being developed by the council. At the moment, the council is proposing a 12 storey tower block. If they built less, perhaps just 4 or 5, then those sites would be more suitable and we’d have saved them from overdevelopment. The council could use those sites for new youth provisions and they could chose to put infrastructure in place.

 

I, and my residents, have 3 clear asks.

 

  1. Stop making promises that can’t be kept

  2. Save Romford from overdevelopment, by building lower on Como Street

  3. Launch a borough wide campaign, calling on the government and mayor to revisit housing targets.


We’re months away from a General Election and Labour are promising 1.5m new homes. This is an unfathomable target and they are threatening more top-down housing targets.

 

This is Havering’s chance to stand up and be heard. Pre-election, all the main parties will be listening.

2 Comments


herby3636
Jun 03

Over development leads to more pollution in a confined area, antisocial behaviour also in a confined area [concrete jungle] more crime and leading to longer queues at doctors and more beds at hospitals, overcrowding of school classrooms. Unsightly skyline in 20 years time, for example the Glasgow gobbles?

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gillian.davis
Jun 01

I agree, over development, no further infrastructure. Havering needs another hospital, nhs dentists etc.

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