Action Against Priory Court Housing Development

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Action against the housing development in Priory court, Walthamstow.

Priory Court Estate has been providing homes to families in Walthamstow since 1946, when it was constructed as provision for families who needed new homes after WWII. Families reported feeling proud of the large rooms and modern kitchens in the estate; but more importantly, children growing up on the estate (as well as their families) reported how much the community on the estate meant to them. Amenities originally included shops, a youth club, and a GP as well as the current community centre and nursery.

Most of these amenities were lost when the council redeveloped the estate during the 1990's as part of a refurbishment scheme for the aging flats. Since that redevelopment, residents have reported feeling increasingly under-resourced and crowded, while violent crime and anti-social behaviour has been steadily increasing on the estate. Residents complain that police presence is minimal and infrastructure is failing to be maintained and express a great desire for more accessible green space.

Now, Waltham Forest Council is proposing another redevelopment. The new plans revolve around adding 120 new flats to the estate while squeezing the community centre and nursery into the same building and eliminating nearly all the remaining green space on the estate. Worse, the new flats will mostly be sold at market price or on shared ownership schemes, despite the estate's long history of being predominantly social rent.

Residents have expressed deep concerns about the effect this redevelopment will have on their access to transportation, air quality and general well-being on the estate. Safeguarding concerns surrounding plans to adjoin the nursery to the community centre have not been addressed, and no information exists on the environmental impact of destroying the estates trees and green space as well as adding so many new households to an already densely populated area.

Residents of Priory Court want their needs to be taken into account in the redevelopment of their home. In particular:

- Environmental Sustainability: Waltham Forest Council has declared a Climate Emergency, but has indicated no research or planning to offset the environmental impact of this new construction and has given no assurances regarding air-quality and access to green space for residents. Verbal feedback from councilors has suggested increased landscaping (which is detrimental to the environment) and using nearby allotments as greenspace despite their complete unsuitability and inaccessibility for children and most members of the community.

- Community Infrastructure: Priory Court Community Centre offers invaluable services throughout the week to the estate and surrounding neighbourhoods. These include a Baby Bank to support low-income families, a youth club, therapy groups and support groups for the socially isolated. The council has not produced plans for space to continue these services while the new community centre is being built and has not guaranteed that the proposed new community centre will be of comparable size or utility to the existing one. The same is true for the much-beloved nursery, including its outdoor space which has been creatively developed by residents.