Angry Stamford Hill residents call into question the impartiality of Hackney Council’s planning system

Angry Stamford Hill residents driven to despair by the noise from an unlawful Orthdox Jewish boys’ school have called the impartiality of the planning system into question.

They are shocked that 10 Hackney councillors are circumnavigating a council planning officers’ decision to refuse planning permission to the school, which has been operating without planning permission for two years.

Since the school with 260 pupils sprang up in an old factory in Amhurst Park, neighbours living next door in a block of 25 flats known as The Trees say they have endured “continuous, excessive, and at times, piercing” noise levels.

Police have been involved because of noise complaints and after the school ignored enforcement notices, the council is dealing with the matter through the courts.

Using delegated powers, council planners rejected a retrospective planning application as well as a new planning application for a school for 320 boys.

But now the 10 councillors signed a petition, the application will be heard at planning sub-committee.

A council spokeswoman confirmed the two councillors who sit on the planning sub-committee and who signed the petition – Michael Levy and Ian Sharer –will still be eligible to vote.

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Another four who sit on the committee as substitutes - Benzion Papier, Linda Kelly, Dawood Akhoon and Abraham Jacobson – could also be eligible to vote.

“I believe they are no longer neutral, and should no longer have a right to vote,” said Simon Jones on behalf of The Trees residents.

“We would be interested to know more about the group of councillors who have petitioned this to be brought to committee. Why have they petitioned it? What is their interest in the development? Its seems to be a most unusual practice.” added another resident, Alison Williams.

A council spokeswoman said that any application coming before the planning sub-committee would be considered in accordance with the council’s Constitution and Planning Code of Conduct.

“Members will declare any relevant interests in the usual way if applicable,” she said.

Eli Low of the applicant Gilmoor Benevolent Fund Charitable Trust, which submitted the application, said he was disappointed planners - who he believed were initially supportive - had rejected the proposals.

“We started dealing with Hackney’s planning authority immediately after setting up the school, the circumstances forced us to open the school because we had kids on the street - when you have hundreds of kids without a building what do you do?” he said.

“We tried to mitigate as much as possible, therefore we chose a commercial building and not residential.

“The Jewish community is under big pressure in Stamford Hill.

“You always promote being able to walk to school and our children are not always safe in other boroughs, mothers would be frightened to send their children out of the borough.

Other signatories include Simche Steinberger, Bernard Aussenberg, Linda Smith and Luke Akehurst