Families will live in ‘concealed boxes without sunlight’ if Recorder House and Bodgers towers go ahead, says architect

19 Jul

An architect has called plans for a socially rented development in Ilford a “dead-end offering”.

Access Self Storage applied for permission to erect a 13-storey block that is “100per cent affordable” on the former Recorder House site, High Road, Ilford.

The proposal was made with a linked application for the former Bodgers shop site which will only have market-rate rented flats.

Speaking at a Redbridge Council planning meeting on Thursday, July 18, a designer representing RGB, which is building on land next door to Recorder House, said there are a number of “unresolved issues” with the plans.

“The first is the public space proposals and boundaries,” he told the Redbridge Town Hall chambers.

“It is poorly conceived with narrow entries separating it from the highway.

“A dead-end offering no wider public facilities and functioning solely as access to residents.

“This poor quality urban decision could lead to problems as highlighted by the Met who said the area may become attractive for crime and antisocial behaviour.”

The second area of concern was over 12 north-facing homes in block C.

“(They are) facing directly on to the railway which operates 24 hours a day with significant noise pollution,” he said.

“Although Redbridge states only a small percentage of the overall scheme, in its current form it would condemn 12 families to live in concealed boxes without direct sunlight.

“Basic design changes (such as) reducing the depths of the rear block would enable dual aspects throughout this area.”

The other worry that the architect had was in regards to the affordable housing quota.

“It has already been stated that Recorder House affordable housing is offsetting Station Road which is against the draft of the London Plan,” he stated.

“It is not meeting the 35per cent or 50pc aspiration which you said, therefore I find it hard to believe that the exception of 30pc is justification.”

He went on to add that the Greater London Authority has also made an objection and he accused the applicant of downplaying design issues in a bid to “dismiss the impact”.

Despite one councillor raising questions about the effects of the building on future residents, others seemed concerned about how it looked on the outside.

Councillor Varinder Singh Bola was concerned that the design and facade of the complex will be detrimental to the character of the area.

“I just wished that the [Recorder House] architect had listened to us during the briefing where we voiced our concerns about the recess and fully protruding balconies,” he said.

“The people that will be living here won’t be sitting there to have their dinner and watch the sun go down, they will be putting their washing out there and putting their extra storage and other things fully on display. That’s the view you will be seeing when driving down to our town centre day in day out.

“I wish they had done more on the design front.”

Councillor Paul Canal backed Cllr Singh Bola and said it would be a “vision of washing lines and chaos”.

“You have four avenues when you approach Ilford town centre – the heart of our borough,” he said.

“One is down the High Road from Seven Kings into the town centre, one is coming in from Newham, and Cranbrook Road, and not to discount the A406.

“You want people to have a good feeling when they drive in the borough – I think we are in danger of blighting people coming from Gants Hill.”

Paul Scott from Redbridge Reclaim spoke against the proposals and said affordable housing was not fit for families at the site.

The applicant said the plans were designed “specifically to align with the council’s aspirations for affordable housing delivery”.

“In particular, affordable homes for families,” he said.

“The proposal offers, in our view, well-designed homes with private and communal outdoor spaces as well as separate children’s play area.

“The social housing element is capped at the local housing allowance levels and the intermediate housing is also capped to ensure that none of the intermediate housing occupiers spend more than 40percent of their income on housing.

“There are already a number of housing associations that are keen to engage with us and deliver these new homes and we would like to deliver it at the earliest opportunity.”

The applicant also said that some of the flats will have winter gardens.

Four councillors voted in favour of the building and four voted against it.

Chairman Jyotsna Rahman Islam had the deciding voted and chose to back the proposals.

Both Bodgers and Recorder House got the green light from the planning committee.

Source: https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/ilford-s-recorder-house-and-bodgers-towers-social-housing-slated-1-6170616