Ilford, United Kingdom
VIJAY SHAH via ELLENA CRUSE/Ilford Recorder
Local government officials in the town of Ilford, which lies to the east of the British capital London, have announced their decision regarding a proposed block of apartments (flats) and shops that developers want to place on the site of a former department store that closed down in February 2018.
Redbridge Council was notified of plans to build a 42-storey tower at the site of Bodgers, a local hallmark and popular department store selling different household goods and furnishings and which had been in operation for 125 years before the UK’s ongoing high street retail crunch caused the business to fail. The plot sits between Cranbrook Lane and Station Road in Ilford’s town centre, a popular shopping and entertainment mecca in the East London and west Essex area.
Local newspaper, the Ilford Recorder, reported yesterday that Redbridge Council’s planning committee met to discuss the site’s future plans and voted to approve the tower, despite some opposition from Ilford residents concerned about overcrowding, skyline pollution and the area’s infrastructure. The meeting, which was described by the Recorder as ‘tense for everyone in the room’, took place at the council’s town hall in Ilford on Thursday this week (18 July 2019) with nine councillors voting on the plans.
Four voted in favour and four against, with one abstaining due to a conflict of interests, with the committee chairperson making the final decision as tiebreaker. The chair, Jyotsna Rahman Islam, decided to go in favour of building the tower. Speaking before the decision was made councillor Paul Canal said the application was probably the most “important decision this committee will make in the next three years” and it will “shape the centre of Ilford for generations”.
He said: “It [is] the biggest building this side of Canary Wharf, it the biggest building this side of the city, it is the tallest building in any part of outer London, on a site where there is nothing similar nearby.
“I am also aware if we were to commission the 26th tallest building in London – and I believe a building taller than any in Paris or Frankfurt – we are potentially giving a green light to other developers who come in with equally high things. They can say we’ve got that there, you set the scale, you set the standard, we will built alongside it.
“I am not sure I want to sit here and tonight make a decision which takes this borough on the way to being a mini Chicago.”
The council however has stipulated that the new development project must feature a number of affordable housing for residents and must also have a 24-hour security staff presence to keep its residents safe and secure, the Reporter noted.
Meenakshi Sharma, a member of local campaign group Ilford Lives Matter, which is opposed to the construction of Ilford’s newest tower block, expressed dismay at the council’s decision. She told the Recorder: “This planning application was always going to go through, just like all the others before it in Ilford,”
“Even when affordable housing is an issue, through appeal, permission gets granted.
“The Greater London Authority and Redbridge Council have sacrificed areas like Ilford to protect other parts of the borough from the scourge of high rise high-density developments.
“It is a race and class issue as the consequences of such developments affect the most deprived areas which have the greatest numbers of ethnic minorities.”
Plans for the tower first came to light in June last year, when the site was purchased by Access Self Storage, who announced they were going to create 380 private rented apartments along with office space and commercial units. Many of the studio and one- and two-bedroom flats will be marketed towards young professionals along with around thirty-five per cent being set aside as ‘affordable housing’, as required by local housing legislation.
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“Redbridge Council gives decision on 42-storey building on Bodgers site” – Ellena Cruse, Ilford Recorder/Archant Community Media Ltd (19 July 2019) https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/politics/housing-approved-bodgers-ilford-1-6169973
“Bodgers site bought by self storage company and plans for 42-storey tower unveiled in Ilford” – Ellena Cruse, Ilford Recorder/Archant Community Media Ltd (13 June 2018) https://www.ilfordrecorder.co.uk/news/bodgers-site-bought-and-plans-for-42-storey-tower-unveiled-in-ilford-1-5559706