Obsidian drop development plans for Forest Gate

Forest Gate developers dramatically withdrew their regeneration application at last night’s planning meeting in Stratford after a council report recommended refusal.

A final decision on the amended application was due to be made at the Strategic Planning Committee at the Old Town Hall on Tuesday (March 20) but Obsidian development director, Richard Cutler, requested a withdrawal at the beginning of the meeting.

The council report said the buildings were “markedly out of context and it was “not clear that the proposal would secure the regeneration of this part of the borough for the longer term.”

The shock move left a crowd of residents and campaigners furious as some of them had left work early to attend the meeting chaired by Cllr Conor MacAuley.

Andrew Jarman, an active member of the Forest Gate campaign, said: “They came in and did this at the last moment. I think they were just waiting for someone to say something positive about the plans and no one did.”

Some campaigners pointed to the new plans for Chobham Manor, a Stratford Olympic development, which includes a new school, health centre, and more family housing, as a regeneration model they would prefer for Forest Gate.

The campaigners gathered in the foyer of the Old Town Hall in Stratford to spell out “Save Forest Gate!” as the Obsidian team left the premises.

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Local campaign group Save Forest Gate Ltd have criticised the plans from the outset as too dense, for not providing adequate family, or social housing, and for damaging the area’s Victorian architectural heritage with high rise buildings.

Chairman of Obsidian FG, Steve Norris, said; “We are more than willing to continue our discussions with Newham. We have spent the last four years trying to deliver a scheme which meets the aspirations of Newham and the people of Forest Gate. We remain committed to that outcome”

Obsidian added that they intend to submit a revised planning application for Newham Council to consult residents and local businesses on.

Newham Council do not wish to comment at this stage.