Johnson in doghouse over plan to demolish greyhound stadium
Some local opponents want the greyhound track back. Others are unhappy about the number of properties. Still more fear the creation of “a slum”.
Some believe the new estate, if built, will exacerbate traffic delays at a nearby roundabout, while more think Walthamstow cannot support more housing without spending on services.
Though not covered by new planning rules designed to encourage building, Walthamstow illustrates the difficulties to be faced when decisions have to be made.
Unlike the four-year battle that has occurred in east London, the Localism Act, 2011, and a new planning policy framework lay down that decisions should be guaranteed within 12 months.
The Conservative/Lib Dem coalition wants local councils to be taken out of the equation if they have “a track record of consistently poor performance”.
Indeed, the Conservatives want to go even further, abandoning demands on developers for affordable homes if such demands make projects unviable.
Instead, developers should be able to appeal previously agreed targets if they run into problems, with the planning inspectorate left free to set a new number.
However, the Lib Dems are unhappy, believing the Tories are trying to curry favour with major builders – some of whom are substantial donors to the party.
Equally, the Lib Dems believe that plans to let house-owners build larger extensions than can be built currently without planning permission – a boost to the economy, say Conservatives – are flawed.
During their September conference, Liberal Democrat delegates slated the plan, saying it would cause neighbourhood disputes over the garden fence and environmental damage.
Back in Walthamstow, some mourn for a track that was once known as “the Lords of the dogs”, when greyhound racing was the poor man’s entertainment.
Great tracks such as White City, Catford and Harringay have long since disappeared, while Wimbledon is now the only track inside the city’s bounds.
Even there, the future is not guaranteed. Wimbledon football club, now living in self-imposed exile in Milton Keynes as the MK Dons, wants to come back.
Greyhound racing’s future in London may lie in the hands of Irish businessman Paschal Taggart, who has lodged plans for a four-tier £30 million (€37.4 million) stadium in Wimbledon.
Complete with hospitality suites, restaurants and bars, Taggart believes that in a city of eight million, there are still plenty who want to go to the dogs.