Mystery of human remains found in Stoke Newington could be solved if disastrous rebuild of shops finally ends

PUBLISHED: 11:29 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 11:59 05 January 2018

The Church Street shops now. Picture: Google Maps

The Church Street shops now. Picture: Google Maps


A disastrous project to redevelop shops in Stoke Newington Church Street could soon be over – as could the mystery of the human remains found on site in 2014.

The Church Street shops before the work. Picture: Google MapsThe Church Street shops before the work. Picture: Google Maps

Hackney Council gave permission for a row of three shops in the trendy shopping district to be demolished and rebuilt in 2013, providing they were in keeping with the original design.

But the contractors went bust and it was left to the town hall to finish the job. The end product, however, did anything but honour the heritage of the building and was reported by the council’s own officers for being in breach of the permitted scheme.

The shops have been left empty as a result, but next week plans to finally complete the project will go before councillors.

“This application seeks to regularise the development as built and additionally to address elements of the detailed design of the front facade which are less than desirable in appearance terms in this conservation area context,” a report states, adding that the shop fronts will be changed to be compliant with the original scheme.

The project was slammed in the summer by Jonathan Law – an experienced architect. He told the Gazette: “It just looks like it’s been made with doors from a skip. It’s ridiculous. How they’ve ended up with this strange rebuild is beyond me, it’s taking the p*** out of the original.”

Human remains predating the 19th century buildings were also found during the dig in 2014.

No detailed investigation into the bones was carried out because the developers couldn’t afford one, so they were reburied by the Museum of London Archaeology (Mola).

Now, English Heritage wants a condition attached to any planning permission requiring a professional report to be compiled into the find.

An officer for the organisation said: “It is very likely they were of significance and public interest with regard to the history of Stoke Newington and the wider borough”.

A Mola spokeswoman said: “The observations made at the time were that the nature of the archaeological deposits associated with the human remains, which were disarticulated (ie not positioned anatomically as you would find in a burial), suggest they probably washed out from a burial ground further upstream and ended up here through natural processes.”

A decision will be made on Wednesday.

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