The Anti-overdevelopment group PRESERVE held a pre-Christmas conference on Friday to consider the latest national and local developments.
Jon Cruddas MP revealed that, due to Conservative backbench lobbying, the algorithm to set housing targets will be amended. He predicted however that this change will likely help rural areas rather than outer-city boroughs like Havering whose land the Government has earmarked for serious development.
Businesswoman Julia Herold bemoaned the Council’s threat to use Compulsory Purchase Orders when businesses refuse to accept undervalued compensation for taking over their land for housing. She was also concerned that the loss of Havering businesses to housing, coupled with a lack of monies for the necessary infrastructure, will turn it into a ‘dormitory borough’ i.e. a densely populated area where the residents commute to work and shop.
Councillor Graham Williamson stated that the Government’s proposed amendment to housing formulas will mean Havering will have to support the building of 1,975 per year (indefinitely!), which is greater than the present 1,100 per year. He says there will soon be no Brownfield left to build upon!
Councillor Ray Morgon talked about how ward councillors independently got involved in early discussions with developers of the ex-St. George Hospital site. These discussions helped shape the development into fitting in with the local character. He contrasted this to many other new developments which are too high, too dense and too small for the borough’s needs i.e. 1-2 bedrooms.
Chair of the Romford Civic Society, Andrew Curtin, criticised local Romford Councillors’ failure to protect the town’s character or the environment, including green and open space. The Romford Civic Society’s overall fear is that by the time a Council masterplan is in place, designed to protect the town’s from over-development, every identified site will have already been built on!