Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Organise to protect our neighbourhood!

On Tuesday 26 July over 180 people turned up to a Hackney Planning Watch meeting in Stamford Hill Library. Unfortunately the room only held 100 people and many residents had to be turned away. The issue was Hackney Council’s proposal to introduce an ‘area of exception’ into its planning regulations which will see streets in Stamford Hill excluded from its normal planning requirements. The issue arouses fierce passions and people were almost fighting to get into this meeting. Yet the council reports that a mere 216 people responded to its ‘sham’ consultation about which most residents knew nothing.

Council delegation
The next evening, a delegation from Planning Watch addressed the full council meeting (thanks to Councillor Linda Smith for facilitating this). Our spokesperson put our case eloquently, but the councillors did not seemed that concerned with the issues that residents raised. Councillor Guy Nicholson insisted that the flawed consultation period would not be extended and that enforcement was taking place to address inappropriate developments.

What are our concerns?
The council has experienced years of malpractice within its planning service. The notorious Stamford Hill neighbourhood committee was disbanded in 2001 after Planning Watch initiated a successful action by way of judicial review. More recently, the Council’s enforcement arm has been heavily criticised by the Ombudsman for its delay or failure to take enforcement action (they illustrated their concerns by reference to the council’s failure to take timely action in a case where an owner had built a pair of two story semi-detached houses in a rear garden). It is against this history of incompetence (or worse) that we object to a loosening of planning rules in our area.

1 Please sign our on-line petition:

2 Also please sign our separate paper-based petition (and ask your friends and neighbours to do the same) petitions available from Planning Watch.

3 Call a meeting in your street of concerned neighbours. We will send a speaker to update you on what is happening in the campaign. Where street meetings have been set up they have been productive and a great way to meet your neighbours!

4 As part of our campaign we are planning a survey of the streets of exception. Could you help out by surveying your street? This is not hard, and involves using a simple checklist to assess the types of property and the extent to which inappropriate development has already taken place.

5 Do you have any special skills that you could use to further our campaign? We already have people with a background in architecture, equalities, environmental health, research, media, and law. Do you have specialist skills such as documentary making, database or web design or other skills that could help? Please let us know.

6 Finally, we must ask for money. Hackney Planning Watch does not receive any public funding. Yet our campaign needs money. Could you help out by organising a fund-raising event (for example a barbecue or a social). Alternatively, why not make a small donation by standing order?

1 comment:

Graham Warner said...

Hackney Planning Watch said...
Graham Warner said...
One related issue is that back gardens are currently defined as brownfield land, and so are being targeted for development.

Have a look at

The threat to Britain's domestic gardens has been dubbed the 'garden grab'. Planning guidelines class much back garden space as 'brownfield sites', allowing them to be used for redevelopment in many instances.

Garden Organic Chief Executive, Dr Susan Kay-Williams, said: "Current national planning rules put profit before people. Greedy developers have carte blanche to rip up gardens and to cram the entire green space with flats."

She explained that gardens are unique ecosystems. They offer gardeners proven stress relief, fight flash floods by absorbing rainwater, provide refuges for diverse flora and fauna, and teach children about nature and enable composting, so reducing landfill waste. "We must ensure new accommodation includes enough green space and that developers respect the judgements of local authorities," she added."

Also relevant is