Old Wood Street Library development - live up to your principles!

The planning committee is considering proposals for a residential tower and a "Families and Homes Hub" to replace the old Wood St library. While there's plenty of good things about the development, there are also some places where it really doesn't live up to the Council's promises. In particular, there's unnecessary segregation between residents of affordable homes and market-rate homes. A letter raising those issues that has been submitted to the planning committee by our housing and planning officer, Tom Addenbrooke, is copied below. 


You can see the proposal and make your own comments here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKWALTHAM/bulletins/2c0427a- 

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to you both in my role as planning spokesperson for Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats and as a neighbour of the proposed development (I live about 100m away on Wyatts Lane). We are generally supportive of this scheme but do have a few concerns.

Firstly, Section 3.6.7 of the 2021 London Plan states:

"Housing developments should be designed to maximise tenure integration, and affordable housing units should have the same external appearance as private housing. All entrances will need to be well integrated with the rest of the development and should be indistinguishable from each other."

Clearly, there may be practical issues that influence the placement of units. However, the developers have presented the separation of tenures as an actual benefit of their plan (Design and Access Statement, p35):

"The layout of the building is organised efficiently with two stair and lift cores at the centre of the plan. This makes smaller clusters of apartments at each level as well as allowing tenure separation."

Similarly, the operation of the lifts in the two cores seems designed to cause controversy. It is not totally clear to us what the proposed arrangement will be - will the North lift not stop at floors 1-4? Will the residents of floors 1-4 be forbidden from using the North lift? Will they have access to the North stairs? Will residents only have access to the communal hallway on their own floor anyway? Each of these possibilities carries a different degree of segregation, and it is important to be clear about what will be implemented and why. From our perspective, designing the building to deliberately drive exclusivity is inconsistent with the above quotation from the 2021 London Plan. So we would encourage the developers to consider whether an equally practical, but less divisive, possibility exists, particularly with regard to the lift access.

Secondly, the proposed building falls within the tall/taller building category. For such buildings, Policy 57.F.ii of the local plan encourages the provision of active frontages at street level. The developers have worked hard in this regard on Forest Road, but the street-level frontage on Wood St is particularly unattractive. Is there nothing that can be added here? Even something like the Feature 17 development, which has a street-level glass-fronted view of piping from Marlowe Road, would be an improvement.

Thirdly, as far as we can tell, the development only proposes three units of more than two bedrooms, compared to a target of 30-40% outlined in Policy 15 of the Local Plan. This is a major shortcoming, and is manifest across all tenure types.


Yours faithfully,

Thomas Addenbrooke

Waltham Forest Liberal Democrats Planning and Housing Spokesperson

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