London & Quadrant is treating MP’s, councillors and the residents of the Borough with utter contempt and proving to be a totally disingenuous organisation. They have not offered the community the choice of greyhound racing which has been at the iconic site for 75 years. Instead, L&Q offer the community four rooms on a housing estate designed by architects that have no experience of ever designing a housing estate. We are now nearly three years on from L&Q acquiring the site- three firms of architects instructed, (some sacked), various consultations (no results ever published), two business partners (one quit and one gone bust) and ten given planning application dates ( none has happened ). Waltham Forest now has an eyesore, a nuisance, listed buildings in decay and a local disaster with the Olympics approaching-with this council’s help the Stow could be this Borough’s jewel in the Crown welcoming tens of thousands of visitors next summer and beyond to this part of London.
How can anyone at Waltham Forest Council support such a “sham” which will make a 30 million loss of part tax payer money? This council has spent the last year budgeting to save millions while it allows millions of public money to go to waste, increasing daily, on the only iconic site it has. With claims that L&Q is supported by Councillors Robbins & Pye we call upon them to deny the accusations from L&Q and condemn what L&Q has done to the most famous greyhound stadium in the world. In 2008, after acquiring an option on the land in 2007, L&Q claimed 520 houses would be built with 50% affordable and now three years later their plans consist of only 300 units with only 60 social and 60 other affordable units offered, less than the 100% affordable detailed in Bob Morton’s plans for the site. So Bob’s plans offer more affordable housing for the Borough as well as infinitely more leisure. So L&Q’s affordable housing for the site has gone down from 260 units to 120 units with further reductions inevitable in their desperate bid to help balance the books.
Waltham Forest must act now. This borough would gain 1500 jobs, millions of pounds of private investment from multi-millionaire Bob Morton and more affordable housing than L&Q can offer, such is the financial quagmire that L&Q now find themselves in. Mr Morton will offer a multi use stadium for the whole community to use daily and will have it built by the Olympics if sold to him shortly. This would bring mass visitors and therefore huge inward investment to the Borough and restore faith that the council listens to its residents.
The Greyhound Board of Great Britain publicised the figures and made a public statement concerning the stadium stating that to say the stadium is not viable was “ridiculous” which proves L&Q were totally ill advised in purchasing the site let alone the total mismanagement of the site so far. Indeed, we would today like to applaud Reading County Council for giving planning permission for a new state of the art Greyhound Stadium, showing that Reading Council possess the vision and common sense that we ask of Waltham Forest Council.
Directors of L&Q, many receiving over £250,000 in salary part funded by the tax payer, will not admit the truth- that the site is not worth anything like the 18.1 million that they paid for it and their so called 50 million scheme makes a loss of 30 million which the tax payer has to partly pay for. This is a public disgrace and the directors who push forward with this site should be dismissed for gross misconduct of the public purse. The site is currently worth less than the 9 million pounds offered by Bob Morton.
MP’s have told L&Q that their constituents want the return of racing and local ward councillors Nick Buckmaster and Bernadette Mill were swamped by complaints from residents who were never consulted by L&Q and who live in the adjacent streets. The council should not be seen to endorse land banking and property speculation with tax payer money while this very borough loses millions in visitors to its most iconic site.
Now that only 60 social and 60 other affordable units are offered by L&Q with further cuts inevitable and with no substantial leisure as required under the Council’s own planning policy, we call upon Chris Robbins to honour the wishes of the borough and order a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) with immediate effect so that the Borough will have a site that we can be proud of at the 2012 Olympics, not the current eyesore. The fate of this site is down to the Labour led council and Chris Robbins and we ask the community to hold them to account at the next election if they don’t act now.