The last, large parcel of land in London’s North Longwoods area may see more than 150 new homes built — and residents are worried.
The parcel south of Southdale Road and west of White Oak Road would be filled in by the proposed 72 single-family homes, a four-storey apartment tower and townhouses.
Although it is ideal infill development, surrounded by other single-family homes and commercial development, neighbours are concerned about traffic flow in the already busy area, said Coun. Anna Hopkins.
“There is a lot of concern about how we are moving on White Oak Road,” said Hopkins, the planning and environment committee chairperson who represented the neighbourhood as part of her ward before boundaries were redrawn last year.
“We are hearing about congestion and traffic on White Oak Road. It is getting harder and harder to move and deal with all the traffic in the area.”
The committee recently supported the proposed development from White Rock Village Inc., saying it is exactly the kind of infill that should be built in the area, added Hopkins.
“This is a big development and there is a lot of development proposed for that area,” she said.
“It is allowed. You can see all around that area there is commercial and homes that have been around a long time and new developments. It does fit. We want intensification, we want infill.”
Further west along Southdale, in the area of the Bostwick Community Centre west of Wonderland Road, York Developments will build a massive, $500-million, six-tower development, where it also owns about 300 additional acres it plans on developing as residential.
“There will be more intensification and traffic, and we already have those concerns there,” Hopkins added.
The city’s planning staff supported the White Rock Village development as it fits the community, but agreed traffic congestion may be a concern.
“This is the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to that area. It is the last undeveloped piece in the neighbourhood,” said Sonia Wise, a city planner.
“The site has always been vacant. It is waiting for development.”
The north of the city is being built to its boundary, but the south still has land available and that is why there is intensification now happening there, said Wise.
The planning committee recommended staff conduct a “speed volume study” and if it identifies a need to reduce speed in the area, the city can consider it, said Wise.
There will be 43 townhouse units and 41 apartment units in the four-storey tower along with the 72 homes, she said.
Traffic flow is not the only issue among residents, as messages to the planning committee from neighbours also identified fears over flooding and a drop in property values due to the intensification and size of lots.
“If we are surrounded by small homes on small lots, our property value will decrease significantly. We have a large home with a large pool on an approximately half-acre lot. When it’s time to sell, we will not get the real value for it,” said Julie and Frank Minifie, on White Oak Road.
“I did not purchase this home 20 years ago to turn around and sell it when I’m ready to retire to receive significantly less than it’s worth. The homes that will be directly behind the existing residential homes should have larger lots and larger homes on it. We have spoken to a number of homeowners on this street and they feel the same way.”
Added neighbour Chris Ellison: “I believe that the property was set as runoff space for possible flood. I think it should be kept undeveloped. Building on this land will result in a number of negative challenges to the area.”