Hackney development gets shut down by council

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Leswin development from resident’s window. Pic: Helen Rawlinson

A development in Leswin Place, Stoke Newington, has been stopped by Hackney council because it is in breach of planning permission.

Hackney Council issued a 28-day temporary Stop Notice to the developer on September 26, after receiving complaints by locals.

A council spokesperson said: “This will be followed by an Enforcement Notice, to seek the removal of the building. Next the council will issue a full Stop Notice to ensure that the owner does not resume the works once the temporary notice expires. These notices will be served within the next week.”

LARA, the Leswin Area Resident’s Association, have been campaigning to get the council to enforce planning permission because the building is around 700mm higher than it was shown on the plans and overlooks neighbouring homes blocking their light and invading their privacy.

Residents of Leswin and Bayston road were only alerted to the breach well after building had begun. It became apparent when residents could see the windows, of what are to be new homes, from their gardens, above an already existing wall.

According to Sophie Broadbridge, a resident of Leswin Road: “The raised height of the development has major implications on the neighbouring houses, in terms of light, privacy and house prices.”

She added: “One resident has already been informed by a local estate agent that the overlooking of their house and garden by this development significantly reduces the value of their house.”

Maureen Diffley, an architect and resident of Lewsin Road, explains how the development, if allowed to continue, will affect the local community. She said: “It may make some of our neighbours who have been here for long periods of time move out because they do not want to be overlooked.”

She added: “It will put pressure on parking in the area.  Although the residents of the proposed development will not be entitled to residents parking, the Council office dealing with this is not 100% reliable and has issued resident parking in the past to people living in new developments.”

LARA Chairman, Jim Westwood, explained that all the residents want is for the development to coincide with the permission granted by the council. He said: “We simply hope to get the building built to a height in line with the plans that were submitted 5 or 6 years ago.”

According to members of LARA, the developer has also offered to erect trellis or extend the existing wall to solve the problem. Diffley said that this would cause more problems in the long run. She said: “This is a very old wall and it is unlikely that it could withstand the overturning pressure caused by wind loading to the top of the trellis. This wall was part of a building before the demolitions work began, which would have stabilised the structure. Now the wall is very high for a freestanding wall.”

She added: “In my professional opinion, it will be physically difficult to add trellis to do without strengthening the wall with piers on the other side.  A trellis would need maintenance and would not be permanent enough to offer a long term solution”

Diffley also expressed disbelief that the development was approved in the first place after identifying only one drawing of the building that “ties the proposed development to anything existing on the site”. She said: “This is in direct contradiction of Planning Application rules which require that levels be shown and related to the existing site.  I have had Planning Applications returned as invalid from Hackney Council in the past because I have signed the application form with black ink instead of blue.  These drawings do not conform to even the most basic requirements of a planning application.  There are almost no dimensions shown.”

The developer can appeal this Enforcement Notice and then Planning Inspectorate will make a judgement on the plans and the building.

LARA and other local residents will have an opportunity to make their own case to the Planning Inspectorate if there is an appeal.

The developer refused to comment at this time.

20/10/2014 Correction: We have been asked to make it clear that planning permission was not granted by Hackney council. Their ruling was over-turned on appeal and they have worked quickly to enforce a stop notice on the illegal works. 

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