The local council is currently considering the sale of four crucial car parks—Dorrington Gardens, Keswick Gardens, Como Street, and Angel Way—to make way for a development that includes 300 homes and retail units. Several aspects of the proposed plan raise serious concerns.
One of the key issues at the forefront is the decision to sell Como Street car park to Mercury Land Holdings, a property developer owned by the Council. Alarming as it is, last August, Mercury Land Holdings was granted an exemption from an environmental impact assessment. The proposed plan for Como Street involves constructing a 12-storey block, which has become a contentious point amongst our community members. With only 44 residents in support out of approximately 500 submissions, it is clear that the majority are deeply troubled by the prospect.
The proposed 12-storey block has sparked concerns about its impact on the visual aesthetics of our community, potentially becoming an eyesore for residents due to its towering height. Additionally, the construction of such a high-rise structure raises questions about its compatibility with the surrounding area's character and whether it could set a precedent for further unwarranted changes. Moreover, the lack of essential amenities like a GP surgery on the site poses a potential strain on local services, affecting the quality of life for new residents and the existing community alike.
Furthermore, the fate of the proposed 170 homes is worrisome. The absence of plans for essential amenities on the site, coupled with uncertainties about the nature of future residents, raises questions about the project's long-term impact on our community. Will the Council consider allocating housing for the homeless or asylum seekers? Will local residents be prioritised in this development?
Another critical issue is the removal of car parking services, which has left a significant void in the town centre. The increase in residential and retail sites without corresponding parking solutions could have detrimental effects on local businesses and the elderly population who rely on convenient parking facilities.
The prospect of new retail units also demands careful consideration. Romford does not need additional retail sites, especially with existing shops closing and remaining vacant. The potential eyesore created by empty retail spaces could further detract from the town's appeal. It is crucial that any new retail sites prioritise key services and contribute positively to the community.
Finally, the financial implications of such a project must be scrutinised. Can the Council afford this development, especially in the face of service cuts and a projected £31 million budget deficit? As responsible stewards of public funds, we must ensure that any undertaking aligns with the best interests of our community and its financial stability.
At a meeting with local residents of Como Street, Lindon Street and Olive Street in Lower Mawneys in January, I had the pleasure of launching the Como Street Action Group, alongside Conservative councillors from across the Romford Constituency, which will campaign to prevent these plans from manifesting. Meeting dates of the Action Group will be made available to local residents when they are called.
I urge you to voice your opinions on this matter by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we can advocate for a community-driven approach to development that preserves our heritage, maintains our quality of life, and secures a prosperous future for all residents.
Pictured: The Launching of the Como Street Action Group.