Council halts demolition work on historic Dalston terrace because of a lack of planning permission

Discuss what actions residents can take over the demolition of a row of Gerogian terraces on Dalston

Discuss what actions residents can take over the demolition of a row of Gerogian terraces on Dalston Lane by Hackney council on Saturday - Credit: Archant

Heritage campaigners are celebrating after the council was forced to suspend demolition work on a row of historic terraces because it didn’t have legal permission for the controversial work.

Hackney Council started bulldozing a row of 16 Georgian terraces at 48 to 76 Dalston Lane last month, despite promising residents several years ago that the 19th century facades would be retained as part of a conservation-led scheme.

It entered into a £2.38 million deal with developer Murphy to convert the site into 44 homes – none of which are classed as “affordable” – and 1,000 square metres of retail space last year.

In December it was announced that keeping the frontage of the homes would make the scheme structurally unsound.

Residents and campaign groups such as OPEN Dalston and The Hackney Society were left outraged by the decision but were last week given a reprieve as the council announced it was being forced to start the planning process from scratch again after objectors pointed out that the survey undertaken on the state of the buildings was legally unsound.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, cabinet member for regeneration, wrote to Bill Parry-Davies, the founder of OPEN Dalston, who has spent 10 years trying to save the buildings, saying the council would undertake a public consultation on the new planning application.

In the letter, Cllr Nicholson said: “Following the concerns raised by members of the local community, planning service has reconsidered the lawfulness of the decision issued.

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“They have sought legal advice in this regard, which has concurred that the discharge of the structural survey condition may be insufficient to cover the extent of demolition now proposed.

“In light of this, a full planning application (which includes conservation area consent) will be submitted this week.”

Speaking to the Gazette Mr Parry-Davies said: “It is astonishing that, without community objections, the council would have proceeded with an unlawful demolition of Georgian houses in a conservation area.

“It now even claims that, with total demolition of all the houses, the scheme would ”remain genuinely conservation led”. Is that like a picnic without any sandwiches?”

The Hackney Society, which campaigns for better design, met with the council yesterday to discuss the demolition plans. Spokesman Nick Perry said: “We are grateful to Hackney Council for having a senior team meet with us at length, today. We were reassured that the council are seeking the best outcome, but at this stage we disagree on what the best outcome is for Dalston Lane. We are of the opinion that the structural report overplays the need to demolish the facade, and believe that would be the antithesis of a “conservation-led” approach. If a further report proves demolition is the only viable solution then we would ask the council to reappraise the scheme. We look forward to the council considering our call for better evidence.”

Mr Parry-Davies will be speaking at a public event to save Dalston Lane, which takes place at 1.30pm the Rio Cinema on Saturday.

It will feature a film – Under the Cranes – about the historical evolution of Hackney.

Poet Michael Rosen will also speak at the event.