Death sentence hanging over Mildmay Social Club from Hanover development

A historical community hub in Stoke Newington still has a “death sentence” hanging over it, after a time extension for planning permission to build six townhouses next door was awarded by Hackney Council last week.

The Mildmay Social Club in Newington Green which is owned by its 200 members has been around since 1888, and hosts social gatherings like wedding receptions, as well as being a popular location for films like Made in Dagenham.

In 2008 planning permission was awarded to Hanover housing association for six three-storey four-bed townhouses to the rear of Thirlmere House which fronts Howard Road.

The three year time limit for development commencing has expired and Hanover needed to extend the time limit for planning permission.

The site which is currently a car park containing four trees with protection orders is adjacent to the club, and objections were raised because the development would block access to the rear of the club and its emergency exit.

Members of Hackney Council’s planning committee were split over the decision in 2008, but access is not a reason for refusal on planning grounds.

Brenda Brown, the club’s entertainment secretary said the access issue could have serious consequences in the event of a fire: “Everyone seems to brush it aside, but there are up to 300 people upstairs sometimes, in their 70s and 80s, and it’s people like me and my colleagues who would have to get them out.

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“We would have to brush them down a flight of steps and through a small passageway which goes under the club, and because of the drinks we have gas bottles in the cellar which risk exploding.”

Tom Jones, a solicitor acting for the club, said the development “threatened” the future of the club which was an “integral” part of the community.

“It can’t realistically be developed in that there will be a noise nuisance,” he said.

“The fact is the development is right against the wall of the club - the club will have a death sentence, it’s hanging over it.”

Councillors on the planning sub-committee appeared to express concern about the proposals.

Cllr Desmond said: “On what basis are you going to explain to residents there could be some noise coming from the club next door?

Cllr Ian Sharer asked if it was possible to bring the decision back in but was told it wasn’t.

Chairman Vincent Stops said “clearly it would be ridiculous” to attach a condition to future residents that there could be no noise complaints, and the time extension was granted.

A Hanover spokesman said they are exploring different options regarding the long term future of the valuable piece of land, which include developing the land or selling it to another developer.