COUNCILLORS- ACT NOW TO SAVE YOUR BOROUGH’S ‘JEWEL IN THE CROWN’

L&Q Plans totally flawed-Grade 2 Listed Building would need to be demolished 

Is it worth the loss of our heritage, thousands of jobs etc for the sake of as few as 26 affordable units (when Bob Morton can offer five times that number)?

SAVEOURSTOW appeals directly to each and every Waltham Forest Councillor to act now to bring back the Stow in time for next Summer’s Olympic Games so that we have a true asset to showcase to the world as well as securing thousands of direct and indirect jobs for the Borough’s residents (Stadium’s  Employees to be paid in accordance with the London Living Wage), the return of our heritage and a thriving night-time economy. It is plain stupid to suggest a housing estate can replace the ‘world famous Stow’ 

It has been confirmed by Council Officers that the popular entrance and attached stand is part of the Grade 2 Listed Building. It is clear from the most recent L&Q plans that the road access would require the demolition of this Listed Building.

There have been issues that either have arisen or are about to which directly affect the Stow and we would like to make you aware of these: 

1.     Mr Bob Morton has written twice to L&Q reiterating his £9m offer to purchase the site. This offer is well above the current market value of the site. His plans include the return of greyhound racing, other community leisure facilities to benefit the wider community and about 120 affordable units, creating 1,500 local jobs directly and hundreds more indirectly. To date he has yet to receive a reply.

2.     Mr Bob Morton has written to this Council’s Leader explaining his plans for the site if he were given the opportunity to purchase it. His pledges to the community included his commitment to London Living Wage, animal welfare and the potential for direct community involvement in the track.

3.     The Secretary of State has refused a planning application appeal on the Kimberly Industrial Estate in Billet Road less than a mile from the Stow. When the principles of this decision are applied to the Stow (density, affordable percentage etc) the conclusion is that L&Q’s development target would be only 128 units for the 3.2 hectare site, with only 20% (26 units) being affordable. We would be happy to supply anybody with the detail of how we calculate these figures.

4.     A planning application for the car park site has been submitted but HCT and Peugeot have made no attempt to consult with the local community about the effect on traffic, car parking  etc that their plans will have and they are attempting to slide the application through ‘under the radar’.  A very basic point should not be overlooked-this site is PART OF the Walthamstow Stadium site and it has been since its inception in the 1930’s. The site was almost exclusively used as a car park for the dog track and is clearly ancillary to the stadium itself. Allowing planning permission for this site before a decision is taken on the stadium itself would be inexcusable and a dereliction of duty. Please do not allow this to happen.

5.     Saveourstow applaud the council and council planners for their stance on the EMD Cinema site. We would argue that the principles in terms of heritage and viability that underpinned the Cinema decision are even stronger for the Stow. With Chris Robbins correctly stating that the right decision was taken, we appeal to all parties to issue statements in support of Bob Morton’s plans and in criticism of L&Q’s lies and mismanagement of the Stow. Both local MP’s have been criticised by L&Q and ward councillors have been misled by L&Q

 6.     L&Q’s current reasons for rejecting Bob Morton’s offer are that they suggest his plans are ‘non-viable’ and ‘undeliverable’. On the point of viability, Mr Morton’s credentials, both financially and managerially are beyond reproach, being in the Times Rich List and already running a successful greyhound track. He is also a director of over 40 companies many working with local authorities. We attach our feasibility study showing the viability of the track. L&Q state that they have commissioned a report questioning this viability-but they will only release this when a planning application has been made-which has already taken 3 years to materialise. In terms of ‘deliverability’ it should be remembered that Mr Morton’s intended primary use is greyhound racing-its use for 80 odd years. Mr Morton also has a letter of comfort from the planning department.

7. L&Q is land banking and will not be putting in a planning application for years, so under this council this site will remain a derelict wasteland. Is this the legacy of Labour?

8. How can a council resist millions of private investment from a multi millionaire who already works with local authorities building hospitals, schools etc whilst locals currently have no job prospects. Only the Stow can attract many thousands of visitors to the Borough, not a housing estate.

Saveourstow appeal to this Council to act now and to support us and Bob Morton to delivery what 94% of the residents that voted you in to office demand. We do not accept the Council Leadership’s stance that he can do nothing and must remain independent. That argument may be appropriate had some representatives of the council remained impartial throughout however L&Q advised (Mike Johnson of L&Q in a meeting attended by Bob Morton and SOS representative) that they received encouragement to purchase the site and we remain alarmed at L&Q’s submission to the Preferred Options Core Strategy where they state ‘The Borough kindly provided us in confidence a list of the sites expected to contribute to the 10,595 housing capacity figure mentioned in paragraph 5.9 of the Preferred Options Core Strategy’.

With this in mind we call upon this council to grasp this opportunity now and to help ‘right this wrong’. We have previously suggested a Compulsory Purchase Order of the site. We feel that it is the council’s duty to agree an alternative proposal if the CPO suggestion is to be ignored. But doing nothing, allowing our heritage to rot, is surely not in the best interests of this Borough and its residents.

The residents were out in force at the cinema planning application. If and when the world famous stow application is heard, you can expect many thousands more to attend which will not look good for this council who could and should act now.

We will continue to represent the wishes of 94% of your residents who demand our Stow back-we urge you to act decisively now and do the right thing.

We also urge all supporters of the Stow to email Stella Creasy (MP) stella@workingforwalthamstow.org.uk as she will be debating the future of the stow in Parliment on 7th June … Go Stella !!

 

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One Response to COUNCILLORS- ACT NOW TO SAVE YOUR BOROUGH’S ‘JEWEL IN THE CROWN’

  1. I’m in favour of the return of Greyhound racing to the Stow. I’ve been on a couple of the protests. That said, I think it’s worth being measured in some of the claims being made by pro- campaigners. For instance the one-page ad in local newspapers last week says L&Q will ‘prevent thousands of jobs being created’. This blog post asks “Is it worth the loss of our heritage, thousands of jobs etc for the sake of as few as 26 affordable units (when Bob Morton can offer five times that number)?”

    L&Q has taken a useful facility out of circulation and landbanked it for several years now. The main thing about the Dogs is that, contrary to what animal rights people say, it enriches the life of the borough. Some form of modern venue coming back into use, while saving its art deco/listed areas, would be a good thing. We risk losing track of this message by getting bogged down in speculation about local jobs – which depend on more than just the track – and by getting drawn into NIMBY arguments about the shortage of new homes – public and/or private – being built in the borough. Why not have a dog track AND improvements to local housing stock?

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