Mixed reaction to Forest Gate regeneration plans

Only 59 per cent of residents are in favour of the Forest Gate regeneration plan, according to a new survey carried out by a local church.

Thinking Allowed, a forum set up by members of Woodgrange Baptist Church in Romford Road, collected questionnaires of 277 residents which targeted four areas covering four sides of the proposed development plans to see what they really thought of the suggested transformation of Forest Gate.

Overall, 59 per cent were reportedly in favour of the proposed regeneration plans which is lower than the 80 per cent recorded by developers Obsidian after two public consultations on July 9 and September 22.

Transformational change started in 1998 with Area Action Plan produced by Newham Council with developers Obsidian coming on board five years ago to combat deprivation in Forest Gate.

The area is currently in the top 10 per cent of most deprived wards in the country with crime figures 20 per cent higher than the rest of the borough and 40 per cent higher than the London average.

The survey recorded mixed reactions to plans for 800 new homes (53 per cent in favour and 47 per cent against) and around 2000 more people in the area due to worries about the effect this will have on policing, schools, transport and parking.

The most unpopluar part of the plan was the introduction of a 26-storey tower block next to the station (84 per cent against) as they felt the high rise buildings do “not fit the area’s historic character”.

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The most popular part of the regeneration scheme included a new community space to replace Durning Hall (86 per cent) and better and more varied shops along Woodgrange Road (86 per cent).

Concerns were also aired that the development was being pushed by Crossrail plans to bring more young professionals to the area who may not have a stake in the community but Richard Cutler, project director, countered this with the claim that community facilities would increase by 25 per cent under the new plans.