“Wild West” Stamford Hill: Hackney councillor laments planning system after unauthorised school decision overturned

Hackney Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a controversial application to build an Orthodox Jewish boys’ school in Stamford Hill has been overturned by a government inspector.

Ward Cllr Ned Mulready believes the decision invalidates the entire planning system.

In January council planners refused retrospective planning permission and new build permission to build the three-storey Torah Veyirah of Satmar Boys’ School in Amhurst Park, because of its size and design.

The unauthorised school has been operating without planning permission on the site of a disused factory bordering Bethune Road for nearly three years.

Surrounding residents complain of “unbearable noise,” with its staggered playtimes, and traffic chaos.

The council had been taking legal legal action against it since last November after it failed to comply with enforcement notices.

At the committee meeting in January, Graham Loveland, the council’s assistant director of planning, said it was a “great shame that this school chose to occupy this site without the necessary planning permission in the way they did.”

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But now a government inspector who spent two days hearing evidence about the school in April granted it retrospective planning permission and planning permission for the state of the art new building.

“For the Planning Inspectorate to come along and overturn the council’s decision in effect justifies the schools decision not to seek planning permission for years, not to go through the normal legal processes, and to planning the law on a almost daily basis,” said ward Cllr Ned Mulready.

“Many residents feel that they’re living in some kind of wild west in terms of planning around here, and they just don’t’ feel there’s any effective form of regulation or redress when there are infringements,” he added.

But director of the applicant, the Gilmoor Benevolent Fund which will fund the school, Eli Low, is delighted with the decision, as he believes there are not enough schools for the Jewish community in the area.

“The council sold off old school sites to developers instead of us,” he said.

“The inspectorate deals with applications on the planning merits and we feel it does have the merits.”

Opponents of the development are now discussing whether to undertake a costly Judicial Review, and many have said they will try to sell their homes.