Hackney Council’s much-vaunted Stamford Hill Area Action Plan is a failure

  • It fails to take into account the diverse views and different circumstances of all the communities of Stamford Hill
  • It fails to address the major issues, in particular projected housing needs, in the area
  • It fails to call a halt to developments that create noise, traffic congestion, pollution and loss of privacy
  • It fails to deal with the persistent problem of ineffective planning enforcement action in Stamford Hill

As a result the Stamford Hill Area Action Plan has the potential to exacerbate community tensions.

We welcome some aspects of the draft plan, such as the emphasis on family homes, but have serious concerns about some of the key proposals which we believe could damage the built environment, reduce green space, lead to more noise and congestion, and reduce diversity.

The council is ring-fencing one area of Hackney and devising a different, more permissive, planning regime, creating in effect a planning “area of exception” – a discredited policy that was rejected when it was proposed fifteen years ago.

A key objective of the plan is to deliver new homes to address overcrowding but it proposes, at the most, 600 new homes which go no way towards meeting the increasing need.

The housing design and extension proposals would allow two-storey roof extensions and larger back extensions and basements. These proposals lack safeguards regarding implementation and enforcement and would reduce green space.

The plan proposes to permit “the conversion, redevelopment or change of use” of houses currently used as homes in order to provide schools and places of worship. The use of houses without sound-proofing for such purposes causes distress to neighbours and runs counter to the main thrust of the plan, which is to provide for  rapidly growing housing need.  

The growth in size and numbers of schools – many unregistered – has already led to a surge in mini-bus traffic bringing children long distances, some from other boroughs; together with increased noise and nuisance, congestion and pollution. It seems odd to be promoting School Streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in some parts of the borough while encouraging more traffic in Stamford Hill.

The council has a legal duty to have due regard to the need to foster good relations between communities set out in the Equality Act 2010. Effective enforcement is vital to preserve community harmony. While the perception exists that planning regulations can be flouted because enforcement is inconsistent, weak, or non-existent, resentment will grow.

We fear that the inadequate and unrepresentative nature of the consultation since work on the plan was initiated in 2014 means that the concerns of many local people have been overlooked. If the object of this exercise was to increase trust and understanding it may have the opposite effect.

Today 28th February is your last chance to comment. If you wish to do so you can still write to: planmaking@hackney.gov.uk.

You can find our full response to the proposals here:- https://hackneyplanningwatch.wordpress.com/stamford-hill-draft-area-action-plan/

Wood berry Down Ward Forum Next Monday January 24th 2022 6-8pm

A chance to discuss the plan with your local councillors

Woodberry Down ward councillors Caroline Selman and Sarah Young will be hosting a Zoom meeting about the Stamford Hill Area Action Plan with officers from Planning at Hackney Council.

How to join the Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/join  Meeting ID: 820 3504 4921  Passcode: 126955

Or Dial-In

If you wish to join the meeting by telephone please dial one of the following numbers and enter the meeting ID and passcode:

0203 901 7895   or 0208 080 6591 or 0208 080 6592  or 0330 088 5830 or 0131 460 1196

Anyone in Stamford Hill West who would like to come would be welcome (as there will be no ward forum in Stamford Hill West). 

In the meantime…

Please comment now on the Stamford Hill area action plan | Hackney Council. We have until 31st January 2022 to make our voices count. Find out how here and of course do please follow us on Twitter and Facebook  

Or email us at:- hackney.planning.watch@gmail.com

Area Action Plan leads Gazette letters page

Planning Watch supporter David Pollock sets out the story behind the current issues in the lead letter in this week’s Hackney Gazette. To find his letter click here and flip through to page 12.

In the meantime we now have only a couple of weeks left to have a say on the Stamford Hill Area Plan before 31st January

Hackney Council have for many years been under pressure to change the planning regulations in Stamford Hill to allow for bigger extensions to houses, and more schools and synagogues on residential streets.

The Stamford Hill Area Action Plan (SHAAP) is a new attempt to achieve this. The suggested changes are controversial, many people living in Stamford Hill are opposed to them, because they will increase noise and traffic and we believe they will be divisive.

Hackney Planning Watch insisted that the current plan should be put out to wider consultation. You now have a chance to have your say here via a Common Place survey.

The consultation is arranged in sections.

Planning Watch provides responses to the sections that concern us here. Our feedback may help you to formulate your own responses in the “tell us why” boxes.  The questions and the numbering system are skewed to provide the answer the Council wants. So, if you are unhappy with suggestions, let them know.

Please fill in the questionnaire as well as you can, despite how badly it has been drafted. Please also write to Guy Nicholson (guy.nicholson@hackney.gov.uk) who is the cabinet member responsible for the SHAAP. The council needs to know that there are many communities in Stamford Hill. We believe that the purpose of good planning law is to enable community harmony and that the rules should be fair to all.We have until 31 January to make our voices heard and ensure that the plan represents all sections of the community. Comment here.

First Drop-In Session This Afternoon

 Have you your day on the Stamford Hill Area Plan before 31st January

Hackney Council have for many years been under pressure to change the planning regulations in Stamford Hill to allow for bigger extensions to houses, and more schools and synagogues on residential streets.

The Stamford Hill Area Action Plan (SHAAP) is a new attempt to achieve this. The suggested changes are controversial, many people living in Stamford Hill are opposed to them, because they will increase noise and traffic and we believe they will be divisive.

Hackney Planning Watch insisted that the current plan should be put out to wider consultation. You now have a chance to have your say here via a Common Place survey.

The consultation is arranged in sections.

Planning Watch provides responses to the sections that concern us here. Our feedback may help you to formulate your own responses in the “tell us why” boxes.  The questions and the numbering system are skewed to provide the answer the Council wants. So, if you are unhappy with suggestions, let them know.

The Council has announced it will be holding two open drop-in sessions on the plan: –

Monday 10 January 2022, 11am-3pm,

Lea View House Community Hall, Springfield Rd, E5 9DX

Saturday 15 January 2022, 3-7pm

Sainsbury’s forecourt, outside 1 Amhurst Park, N16 5LW

Please fill in the questionnaire as well as you can, despite how badly it has been drafted. Please also write to Guy Nicholson (guy.nicholson@hackney.gov.uk) who is the cabinet member responsible for the SHAAP. The council needs to know that there are many communities in Stamford Hill. We believe that the purpose of good planning law is to enable community harmony and that the rules should be fair to all.

You have until 31 January to make your voice heard and ensure that the plan represents all sections of the community. Comment here.

YOU HAVE LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS TO HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE STAMFORD HILL AREA ACTION PLAN!

Hackney Council have for many years been under pressure to change the planning regulations in Stamford Hill to allow for bigger extensions to houses, and more schools and synagogues on residential streets.

The Stamford Hill Area Action Plan (SHAAP) is a new attempt to achieve this. The suggested changes are controversial, many people living in Stamford Hill are opposed to them, because they will increase noise and traffic and we believe they will be divisive.

Hackney Planning Watch insisted that the current plan should be put out to wider consultation. You now have a chance to have your say here via a Common Place survey. The consultation is arranged in sections. Below, Planning Watch provides responses to the sections that concern us. Our feedback may help you to formulate your own responses in the “tell us why” boxes.  The questions and the numbering system are skewed to provide the answer the Council wants. So, if you are unhappy with suggestions, let them know

You have until 31 January to make your voice heard and ensure that the plan represents all sections of the community!

Here is our guide to the Commonplace Survey sections:-

Vision Statement & Objectives

This is a bland statement which is written so that you cannot disagree with it. So give it a bland 3 or 4.

Housing

We have no problem with the proposals on dwelling mix AAP1. This should allow for family houses to be retained rather than being divided up into tiny units.

We do have concerns about AAP2 and 3 which are answered in more detail under Residential Extensions and Alterations (below).  So we are more positive about the first two questions but give the third one a low 2 or 3.

Tell Us Why:

We welcome the emphasis on larger family homes, but we are concerned that the extension policy is too permissive (see below for details). Enforcement in all cases of breach must be prompt. Retrospective planning permission should not be made available for extensions that do not conform to requirements. These issues are not addressed.

Residential Extensions and Alterations

One of the biggest concerns of Hackney Planning Watch has been the rash of illegal, and inappropriate extensions which, in some places, threaten to destroy the Victorian terraces and eat up back gardens, over-shadowing neighbours and destroying green spaces. The Stamford Hill Consolidated Evidence Base provides the anticipated planning guidance for the SHAAP and is critical to understanding what is being proposed. It says that large extensions should only be allowed “where a fragmented townscape already exists. It is not applicable in streets that are very uniform in character” (Stamford Hill Consolidated Evidence Base, Page 8). However, the Common Place document does not allow you to comment on the detail so we are forced to say we disagree with it  (1).

Tell Us Why:

The evidence base says that large roof extensions should only be allowed “where a fragmented townscape already exists. It is not applicable in streets that are very uniform in character” (Stamford Hill Consolidated Evidence Base, Page 8). The council must stick by this and ensure that this recommendation is not whittled away by illegal building work, followed by applications for, and granting of, retrospective planning permission.

We welcome the fact that conservation areas are to be considered in more areas but what powers does the council have to prevent the kind of illegal development which would pre-empt a decision on conservation and possibly make its implementation impossible?

We don’t feel that two story extensions should be allowed on Victorian cottages and terraces anywhere.

We would not want to see 50% of garden space built over by back-extensions. This could have a devastating effect on wildlife, cooling in summer, and water run-off and there is no mention at all of the preservation of mature trees. This is in complete contradiction to Hackney’s other policies on climate change.

There is not mention of enforcement which is vital to preserve community harmony in Stamford Hill, and has been a weakness recently.

Community wellbeing

This is the most controversial section. Read it carefully.

We strongly disagree (1) with the approach to community wellbeing.

Yes we believe that the criteria are missing everything!

Tell Us Why

This section deals with the need for more schools and synagogues.  The evidence does not take into account the community wellbeing of those living alongside such buildings, whose experience of living with increased noise and traffic, are routinely ignored. The existence of these buildings in residential streets is a major source of community conflict and a permissive attitude towards introducing more of them will be positively harmful to community wellbeing The failure even to register the inherent conflict here is a major omission and demonstrates the uneven and unrepresentative nature of the evidence. These premises are an intrusion into residential streets and should be banned or very strictly controlled

Instead of introducing clear rules the new proposals are extremely permissive. They fail to explain what would constitute grounds for accepting or rejecting a proposed school or synagogue development. The guidance suggests they should be allowed where there is “no detriment” to local amenity but doesn’t say how detriment to be judged, what are the criteria, and which neighbours will have the right to object under these proposals?  Under the present planning regime, for instance, the establishment of schools and the growth in traffic by mini-buses transporting children, has contributed to a vast increase in noise, congestion, pollution and nuisance which affects everyone on neighbouring streets. However only the neighbours who live in immediately adjacent dwellings have been consulted (and largely ignored).

The evidence suggests that there is a religious reason for schools to be allowed close to homes but many children are bused into the area from some distance, some from outside the borough, and as far away as Canvey Island on a daily basis. The growth in the number of buses ferrying students around the streets of Hackney, appears to be in direct contradiction to the Council’s policy of encouraging active travel. And what constitutes “no harm in terms of highway safety” given that these buses routinely drop children off in the middle of the road and block roads creating conflict with other road users?

The council needs to do an independent audit of school rolls to find out where children are coming from. It may well be that the need for local places could be met if children from outside the borough were accommodated elsewhere.

Where schools are established without permission, they should be closed, where they are allowed, they should be bound by clear conditions which are enforced, ruling out their use outside regular school hours, and banning the use of amplification in school grounds. In every case a transport plan should be provided which does not adversely affect local streets and increase pollution for local residents.

Synagogues should not be permitted at all in mixed residential streets as they create noise, often until very late at night, and generate traffic from people visiting several times a day. It would be far better for all concerned to use some of the abundant unused retail and commercial space within the Stamford Hill area, which is further away from homes, and less likely to be disruptive of sleep. Parking attached to such premises should not be allowed. If people need to live close enough to walk to schul on the Sabbath, then they should be close enough to walk during the week.

Design and Historic Environment

We agree with the approach (5). What we are less certain about is whether the council intends to follow the guidance that it provides. Unless the guidance is legally enforced it is meaningless.

Public Realm

We suggest that you check out your own local area. The suggestions for Dunsmure Rd show a complete lack of engagement with an active local community who knows and uses the parade. Changes should include paid-for parking at the shops to prevent double-parking and the idea of pocket parks is frankly not credible on the existing narrow pavements. Widening the pavement would be ruled out by the need to accommodate large delivery trucks servicing the shops. There is no mention of the fact that the Cycle Superhighway 1 goes along Dunsmure Rd past the parade of shops which is for much of the week almost impassable due to double parking and traffic jams. The idea that this could be a quiet route for children would be amusing if it were not such a tragic failure to grasp the nature of the problem

Green Infrastructure and the Environment

The Plan doesn’t seem to engage with the issues of green infrastructure at all so we would strongly disagree (1)

Please Tell Us Why

It is unfair and inconsistent to be introducing LTNs in South and Central Hackney and then to be permissive about large numbers of school buses creating traffic jams and pollution in the north of the Borough. The rising number of children in our schools requires a policy of educational localism and the expectation of ALL schools in the borough should be that children walk, cycle or use public transport to get to school.

Green Chains and Green Corridors will be disrupted if up to 50% of gardens are paved over.  Planning permissions should take this into account. There is no mention of trees. Back extensions should not be allowed to destroy mature trees.

Feedback: How did we do?

Do you think we have understood and represented most of the issues? Strongly Disagree

The questions and the answers in most cases have no relationship whatever to the documents. They appear to have been designed to elicit a specific answer and to mislead anyone without the knowledge to look further.

What do you think of our approach to engagement during the consultation?

Many local residents would be astonished to hear that consultation has been going on since 2015, as they are largely unaware of it. Our impression is that only one community in diverse Stamford Hill has in fact been consulted or engaged with and that the concerns of others have been overlooked. This is particularly stark in the section on wellbeing which fails to mention the fact that schools and synagogues in residential areas have been a source of community friction for many years.

Overall?  A big frown!

Please fill in the questionnaire as well as you can, despite how badly it has been drafted. Please also write to Guy Nicholson (guy.nicholson@hackney.gov.uk) who is the cabinet member responsible for the SHAAP. The council needs to know that there are many communities in Stamford Hill. We believe that the purpose of good planning law is to enable community harmony and that the rules should be fair to all.

You have until 31 January to make your voice heard and ensure that the plan represents all sections of the community. Comment here.

Two chances to contribute before Council put the Stamford Hill Area Action Plan out for consultation

There are two further opportunities to get involved at consultation meetings on the Stamford Hill Area Action Plan before it goes to the Hackney Council Cabinet in January 2017, when it will be put out for wider consultation.

These are open to all and free to attend: –

Thursday 3 November
5.30pm-8.30pm

Stamford Hill Community Centre, Stamford Hill Estate, London N16 6RS

Sunday 6 November
10.30am-2.30pm

Oak Tree Community Centre, 77 Bethune Rd, London N16 5ED

The Council and consultants have issued an Interim Report available here which gives an idea of the current thinking.

The issues seen as facing the area include:

– The need for accommodation for single people and large families
– The potential for all-round improvement of Stamford Hill Broadway
– The introduction of ‘character areas’
– The need to regularise shopping streets and areas like Dunsmure Road and Oldhill Street
– Areas identified for small-scale housing development
– How to improve representation the on the Area Action Plan panel

– Concerns about the need to house more residents and development ‘intensification’

In the meantime if you have any questions your are invited to call Sue Cooke AAP at Hackney Council on 020 8356 7740

Meetings on Housing March 9th & Education March 17th

Hackney: A Place to Call Home

Hackney Council is holding a public meeting at Stoke Newington Town Hall on Wednesday 9th March at 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

It will discuss housing in Hackney and forms part of the Council’s year-long public consultation. Hackney: A Place for Everyone, will be an opportunity for people to get a greater understanding of the policy and legislative context, debate the issues, and help shape our future approach to housing and meeting the challenges. Together, what can we do to make sure Hackney remains a place to call home? Hear from a panel representing Hackney tenants and private renters, the London Assembly, the London School of Economics, and more, and ask them your questions.

If you have a question for the panel to consider, please email james.willsher@hackney.gov.uk though there may not be time to answer all questions.

Register for your free ticket from Eventbrite

Area Action Plan Education Workshop 17th March Oak Tree Community Centre

There is another planning workshop open to all, this time to discuss education in Stamford Hill and how it could improve on Thursday 17th March at the the Oak Tree Community Centre Ltd, 77 Bethune Rd, London N16 5ED starting at 6.30pm and finishing at 8.00pm.

This is part of the Area Action Plan consultation process.

It is organised by Plan Projects on behalf of the council. For more information, contact Ivan Tennant on 020 7739 207 or ivan@plan-projects.co.uk.

Education Planning Workshop 17th March

Area Action Plan Education Workshop 17th March Oak Tree Community Centre

There is another planning workshop open  to all to discuss  education in Stamford Hill could improve on Thursday 17th March at the the Oak Tree Community Centre Ltd, 77 Bethune Rd, London N16 5ED starting at 6.30pm and finishing at 8.00pm.

This is part of the Area Action Plan consultation process and will  discuss local education issues and how to improve them.

It is organised by Plan Projects on behalf of the council. For more information contact Ivan Tennant on 020 7739 207 or ivan@plan-projects.co.uk.

Transport Planning Workshop Tuesday 1st March

Area Action:Transport Workshop, 1st March Oak Tree Community Centre

We have received very late notice of a planning workshop to discuss how the transport arrangements in Stamford Hill could improve this Tuesday 1st March at the the Oak Tree Community Centre Ltd, 77 Bethune Rd, London N16 5ED starting at 6.30pm and finishing at 8.00pm.

People from Hackney’s transport team will be present and it will be an ideal opportunity to discuss local transport needs with key officers.  This is part of the Area Action Plan consultation process and will also involve ward councillors.

It will discuss local transport issues and how to improve them.

It is organised by Plan Projects on behalf of the council. For more information contact Ivan Tennant on 020 7739 207 or ivan@plan-projects.co.uk.