Anger at energy-saving plans for Hackney’s Pembury Estate

Residents on Hackney’s Pembury Estate have made an emotional appeal to save their “beautiful” blocks from plans to cover them in energy-saving cladding.

Housing association Peabody wants to put insulating panels on the outside of 28 buildings on the part of the estate known as Old Pembury, which would then be painted. It says it will cut residents’ energy bills and make a positive contribution to the environment.

But tenants and leaseholders on the estate, which has become known for gang violence and some of London’s most violent rioting in August, are taking a stand against the proposals, with the support of Hackney Central ward Cllr Vincent Stops.

They claim the cladding would ruin the buildings’ 1930s brick finish with “an untested and cheap material”.

“We moved here because we thought the buildings were really beautiful,” said leaseholder Jason Dungan, 33, who works as an artist and lecturer.

“But we don’t want to live in a place which has been ruined.

“We feel that we are trying to save the estate from itself. It seems no one is taking a long-term thoughtful view.”

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Campaigners say Peabody, which is working on the new Pembury Circus development, should focus on longstanding problems with draughty doors, windows and roofs. They have also slammed its consultation process and questioned its energy savings predictions.

Cllr Stops said: “I, of course, support energy saving measures. However, I cannot support the widescale use of such a poor quality material as painted render which is proposed.”

A spokesman for Peabody said that the works would not go ahead without residents’ backing, adding that the insulation was not “untested”.

“Peabody has listened to the concerns of campaigners and is letting residents decide by arranging for a ballot before proceeding with the next steps in this project,” he said.

The deadline for objections to the planning application is Monday.

Campaigners are holding an information drop-in session at the estate community centre between 5pm and 8pm on Sunday.