Save Dalston Lane campaign beats the odds to secure judicial review
PUBLISHED: 11:41 13 October 2014 | UPDATED: 14:42 13 October 2014
Campaigners fighting to save a row of Georgian houses from demolition by Hackney Council have beaten the odds and got past the first hurdle in their application for a judicial review.
A barrister for conservation group Open (Organisation for Promotion of Environmental Needs) Dalston argued at the Royal Courts of Justice on Friday against a decision made at the council’s planning committee in March, which gave the green light to total demolition of the historic houses in Dalston Lane.
The council has entered into a £2.38million deal with Murphy Homes for the construction of 44 homes – none of which is classed as “affordable” – and 1,000 square metres of open-plan retail space.
An engineer from Murphy advised the council that it was impossible to retain the 19th-century Georgian facades, because the “crumbling” bricks would render the scheme “structurally unsound”.
But Open’s barrister countered this by saying that an independent structural engineer appointed by the council had reported that there was nothing wrong with the bricks and it would be possible to save the facades if a different design was used.
The High Court judge, Mr Justice Foskett, who also heard from a barrister representing the council, said he was persuaded that Open Dalston had an arguable case that council officers had failed in their duty to consider alternative possibilities for developing the site.
He granted a full day’s hearing next month.
Bill Parry-Davies, founder of Open Dalston, told the Gazette following the hearing that he “felt like jumping up and down”.
“We are delighted. 80 per cent of applicants fail at this stage,” he said.
“We are hugely grateful for people who put their hands in their pockets to contribute to the fight against municipal vandalism.
“We have had many people in the community donating small sums of money, which has added up to big sums of money which has enabled us to pay for this today.”
He estimated that the proceedings had cost the council about £15-20,000 so far.
“We regret they haven’t responded to our attempts to have a discussion and that they have spent our public money in engaging in the fight to date,” he said.
The group is still calling on the council to meet with the Spitalfields Trust, which has costed detailed plans that include the provision of affordable housing.
Architect Lisa Shell, who is organising the Save Dalston Lane campaign, said: “This is important to all of us personally in Dalston, because the buildings represent our heritage and our local identity.
“They are a finite resource. As homogenisation across London goes on, they come more valuable.
“Those buildings were standing in open fields when they were built, in a country lane.”
The group is still calling on the council to meet with the Spittlefields Trust, which has put forward alternative costed detailed plans, which include affordable housing.