Wansteadium property blogger George C Parker writes:
It is probably safe to assume that the bulging Valentine’s mailbags this week did not contain any billets doux from Dalco Developments addressed to the Wanstead Society.
Since purchasing the currently-unused plot of landadjoining Christchurch Green and the High Street in a completely private transaction, the company has used the Wanstead Guardian website to gradually leak snippets of its vision for the site. Connoisseurs of informed and reasonable debate might do well to avoid much of the comments section following each article, but it’s clear that many residents have strong views about the future of the land. A full spectrum of views are expressed, and there does seem to be an overall consensus that the land should be brought into use from its current dormant state. At that point, common agreement seems to end â€“ with the developer disputing even the “Evergreen Field” label on chromatic grounds â€“ though this viewpoint might become harder to maintain as Spring takes hold.
According to the Wanstead Guardian items, Dalco may wish to build starter homes for those on low incomes and key workers (seven houses, two flats) as well as two new shops. Initially the developer was quoted as saying that if his plans were rebuffed at any stage, he would be prepared to leave it to go wild for a couple of decades, or possibly use it for cultivating vegetables. A subsequent article suggested that Dalco may prefer to sell on the land to a buyer based in the Middle East who would seek to build a place of worship, though presumably not a very large one. A mocked up image was posted on WWG â€“ we must recognise the bravery of the proposition â€“ would you like your High Street to look more like Beirut? Personally speaking I’d be delighted with more Lebanese cuisine â€“ but that is a different discussion.
I’m minded of Coleridge:
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery
Frustratingly old Sam completely skims the details of the consultation and planning process involved at the time. From what we can surmise, the situation seems intractable in its current state. It appears that the last buildings on the site were demolished during the 1960s. Later, land first came into private hands when it was sold by the Metropolitan Police (sound familiar) to Furlong Homes. Dalco Developments Limited, Mr Sanger’s company bought it in 2012.
Councillors at the Area One committee last month were resolutely absolutely resolute that the precious status of the land was not about to be changed, saying that it had a higher level of protection even than green belt land. The developer contends that private land should not be considered in this way, which is an original viewpoint.
The Wanstead Society came into being to oppose previous attempts to develop this land for private gain, and has created its own proposal for bringing the land into community use. Obviously, other viewpoints than theirs’ exist; some contributors to the WWG discussion support the developer’s right to build on his land, given the current lack of amenity. Some commentators ask how the Wanstead society can achieve their aims when they don’t own the land, which is a valid viewpoint and indicates the need for a credible and broad-based fundraising initiative.
Individuals commenting on the articles seem to raise similar points: Wanstead does not appear to have a great demand for ‘key worker’ accommodation as there is no hospital, fire or ambulance station â€“ and as for the police â€“who can say. A high density development might suit the developers P&L, but I have yet to see a single opinion commending any entry-level, basic quality building scheme. The general aesthetic of the High Street and its greensward benefits all Wanstead residents and stakeholders. Once it is lost or degraded, it is very difficult to restore. Whether the future is a quality residential building, the proposed Wanstead Society solution (with or without a sunken car park beneath to benefit traders), or something else, we hope that the result is handsome, for the greater good, and of course, hedgehog-friendly.
PS. Reader Paul writes: “I’ve heard that the developer is now in talks with the owner of a horse abattoir who need a new location.”