L&Q are quite simply land-banking and playing the property market with tax payers’ funding. It is quite unbelievable that L&Q are using Conran & Partners to design the iconic site, as they have no experience of ever producing a housing estate from scratch. This has cost further tens of thousands of pounds from the public purse.
L&Q have now admitted that only 40% will be social housing. And director Mike Johnson admitted the site will make an enormous loss initially and is unlikely to make a profit until 30 years time. Also, he is now refusing to give a date for their planning application. This is a blatant breach of RSL rules, and the council of Waltham Forest is allowing the most iconic site in the whole of East London to lie in ruins for years to come. L&Q have deceived MPs & councilors once again by stating that their planning application would be in by March 2011. This was their tenth given date since they purchased the site (after being encouraged by certain Labour councilors according, to L&Q).
However, the designs are flawed as one display board shows flats 8 to 10 floors high – but on another the height has been hidden. The residents are not offered a choice and if you mention greyhound racing, or ask an awkward question, you’re moved aside from their consultations. At a recent meeting at Highams Park Residents Association, L&Q refused to discuss their plans – only display them. This can be proved by the minutes of the said meeting. Why can’t they put a straightforward question to the residents – i.e. “Would you prefer a mixture of greyhound racing, housing and leisure facilities?”
With only 120 houses offered as social housing, nothing for the borough for leisure use (except four rooms in a Tote building, some allotments and a “juice bar”), this episode must now be brought to a close. And this should be done by the very councilors who L&Q stated encouraged them – namely Cllrs Robbins & Pye. The use of public funds on this project must be stopped. £18.1 million has already been wasted, so allowing another 30 million of funding is almost criminal! The borough already has gyms, allotments and “juice bars” that are empty. It shows how L&Q have no idea about the site, and to use a listed building as a potting shed is an insult to the whole Borough.
Bob Morton will offer the Borough private investment and no money from the public purse. This will bring 120 family houses for social use, multi function use as sporting facilities, and large scale permanent employment for residents (taking them off long term benefits that L&Q effectively put them on). As well as proving that greyhound racing and the return of Europe’s number one greyhound stadium is viable. This is backed by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain, who stated this week that saying The Stow was not viable was ridiculous. Bob Morton is also able to start building and restoring this heritage site back to its former glory days straight away. Mr Morton has also agreed to the London Living wage for all employees of the track. This would also bring not only social housing but inward investment and visitors to the Borough.
The Labour Council should now honor it’s principles as a party, and make a compulsory purchase of as the site is an “historical asset “. They should also consider making the site a conservation area as directed by government bodies and advisers.
We ask all councilors to join with Save The Stow, speak out and bring back a new historic multi-leisure stadium – with over 1500 local jobs and inward investment into the greyhound track. With over 94% of residents of this Borough wanting Bob Morton’s plans, we ask you to speak out on their behalf. A 25,000 signature petition has already been given to the leader by Iain Duncan-Smith and Neil Gerrard.