Dalston's Georgian houses can be demolished, rules High Court Judge
PUBLISHED: 16:50 25 November 2014 | UPDATED: 16:50 25 November 2014
Campaigners fighting to save Dalston's Georgian houses from demolition have lost the latest stage in the 10-year battle.
But the group might still appeal against Monday’s High Court decision, which gave Hackney Council the green light to destroy the historic houses in Dalston Lane.
Conservation group OPEN (Organisation for Promotion of Environmental Needs Ltd) Dalston questioned whether permission granted in March at a council planning meeting to knock down the houses was lawful and made an appeal in the Royal Courts of Justice.
But Mr Justice Collins dismissed their claim, arguing he had no power to intervene where the planning committee had accepted the developer Murphy’s surveyor’s opinion that demolition was necessary, over the opinions of Hackney’s own independent surveyor that at least some, if not all, of the buildings could be saved.
The council has a £2.38 million deal with Murphy Homes to build a 44 home development on the site – none of which is classed as “affordable” – and 1,000 square metres of open plan retail space.
Founder of OPEN Dalston, Bill Parry-Davies, who dubbed the designs “Georgian Disney”, said it was a disappointing decision but it was always going to be a “ difficult case”.
He added: “Despite its claims to be champions of our heritage, Hackney Council is in fact destroying it in favour of bogus replicas.
“For years it has stood idly by and watched our Georgian houses and local businesses being destroyed and families being driven from the area.
“It failed to consult and, I fear, has missed the opportunity offered by Spitalfields Trust to save the houses and preserve local character and for affordable housing.
“OPEN has lost a Court case but it is Hackney’s citizens and future generations who have ultimately lost out and sadly that is irreversible.”
An engineer from Murphy advised the council it was impossible to retain the 19th century Georgian facades, because the “crumbling” bricks would render the scheme “structurally unsound”.
But OPEN’s barrister argued that an independent council-appointed structural engineer had reported there was nothing wrong with the bricks, and it would be possible to save the facades if a different design was implemented.
OPEN Dalston claim a meeting scheduled with the Spitalfields Trust to discuss alternative plans which included 24 affordable flats was cancelled by the council.
A council spokesman said: “This is a step forward to finally bring back into use this part of Dalston Lane, to provide space for existing and new businesses, as well as for new homes.”