Hackney Council-owned Morning Lane Tesco redevelopment ‘must include social housing’, urge campaigners at packed public meeting
- Credit: Emma Bartholomew
Re-development of the council-owned Tesco site must include social housing urged campaigners, who have scorned current plans which only aim for 20 per cent so-called “affordable” homes.
More than 100 people packed into the Dan West Hall for a public meeting last night - a stone's throw away from the Tesco superstore and car park site in Morning Lane, the future of which was the topic under question. They unanimously agreed developer Hackney Walk must improve on its proposal put forward at a pre-planning meeting in October, which comprises "affordable" workspace underneath 530 homes in tower blocks as high as 19-storeys, of which just one floor would again be "affordable".
The intermediary housing is priced at 80pc of full market value and requires a salary of £90,000 to qualify, and therefore is out of reach to most Hackney residents - 66pc of whom need social housing according to the London Tenants' Federation. Hackney Walk Ltd, which developed the luxury fashion hub next door, has been given an "option agreement" to develop the Hackney Central site by the council which bought it for £55 million in 2017. Because the site is publicly owned, campaigners are now urging developers to go back to the drawing board.
Hackney Mayor Phil Glanville, who sat on the panel, stressed his commitment to social housing - and appeared to suggest he might not have supported the option agreement in the present-day climate.
"I went to a Labour party meeting and I was clapped for buying the Tesco site as Mayor, he recalled.
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"It was an exercise in long-term investment in our town centre and trying to gain control of a site that Tesco previously tried to bring forward as a purely private-led development. We wanted to share the risk for that purchase and that is why we ended up in a form of an options agreement with what was then Hackney Walk.
"Back in 2016 when we were having these discussions and thinking whether to make that investment we had Boris Johnson as mayor, a Tory government, and no sense that we were going to have a Mayor of London like we do now who is using the planning system to back up councils who want affordable housing. So that floor of 20pc felt like the right floor then, when you saw a lot of commercially-led schemes in town centres not delivering genuinely affordably led housing."
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The London Plan now requires 50pc "affordable housing", and the council itself requires a 35pc minimum in new developments.
People at the meeting were asked to split up into groups to discuss what they would like to see built on the site - and they all reported back a desire for subsidised social housing.
Adam Forman who organised the meeting for the Morning Lane People's Space - a campaign group set up in response to the Morning Lane development - urged those present to "make the developer listen".
"Challenge the developer if they aren't coming up with the housing that's needed," he said.
"If the need in Hackney is for 66pc social housing, that's the starting point of any conversation.
"We think it's a trap for housing to be used as a speculative asset when we have 13,000 on the waiting list and 3,000 in temporary accommodation."
The London Development Agency PR firm was employed by the developer to carry out a consultation last year.
"They said they sent out 19,000 letters, but we know of one person who received one," said Mr Forman. "They proudly announce on their website they got 138 people to give feedback over five days of consultation, but we spoke to more than 138 people in the first two hours of leafleting outside Tesco."
He added: "They said they would have another consultation in the new year but we don't know when. My suggestion is we do the consultation and organise our views coherently, and we take it to them."
Phil Glanville explained that Hackney Walk has a duty to meet certain objectives in order to proceed, including a jobs commitment and to preserve the Tesco store during construction.
He said: "As it stands, they aren't able to come back to the community or us with a plan that meets those objectives. I hope they do. If they do not that options agreement would lapse and we would look at another way of delivering the scheme."
He told the crowd he would not spend public money "getting into a legal argument over the options agreement", adding: "They have the right to bring something to you in a consultation soon through the planning process and I hope all of you put pressure on them to conform."