Fire breaks out in Stamford Hill building earmarked for temporary Bobov-45 synagogue - ahead of planning meeting to decide its fate
PUBLISHED: 17:13 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:17 11 March 2019
Concerns about safety at a storage facility which could be turned into a temporary synagogue have been rekindled, after a fire broke out in the building last night.
The fuse box at Braydon Works in Braydon Road, Stamford Hill, caught alight after water reached it through the roof. The London Fire Brigade was called at 6.20pm and fire fighters using two fire engines had the fire under control within half an hour.
A consequent substation power surge caused a major electricity outage for 40 homes in Clapton Terrace, whose supply was not restored until today.
Father William Taylor told parishioners how morning prayers at St Thomas Stamford Hill were said in the dark while waiting for the power to be restored.
John Stebbing Architects has submitted a planning application on behalf of the ABC Trust to change the building’s use from light industrial to a temporary synagogue for the Orthodox Bobov-45 community.
The two-year temporary permission is sought while another synagogue at 73 Clapton Common is renovated.
The building in Braydon Road is currently predominantly used to store Sukkahs, which are temporary wooden huts wood used during the week-long Sukkot festival.
Some of the 16 objectors to the planning proposal are worried the building isn’t fit for use as a place of worship, with “no windows, ventilation or electrical network” – and last night’s incident has done nothing to allay their fears.
Neighbour Lynn Altass told the Gazette: “The fire points to poor and shoddy maintenance of a facility that is currently in daily use by the local Charedi community. A fire in the building has the potential to spread quickly to the terrace.”
Adrian Holliday added: “We very concerned about safety standards generally, and we hope the committee will give this a good long hard look. We don’t feel the council has a strong enough oversight on some of the informal work that takes place around here, and that there is not enough safety enforcement.”
Hackney Council’s planning officer Alix Hauser has recommended approval and the sub-committee will make a decision tonight.
Several Clapton Terrace residents plan to attend the meeting to express environmental health and safety concerns, as well as unhappiness with the “excessive” opening hours from 7am to midnight.
“We’ve been tracking the current Shul (synagogue) site openings and closings and they are often open as early as 5.30am or 6am when I walk my dogs,” said Ms Altass.
“The lifestyle pressure from one particular group can’t be allowed to deny a basic need - good sleep - for others when they share the same neighbourhood,” added Mr Holliday.
Some objectors are concerned the temporary use could be allowed to continue for longer than two years if development of the other synagogue overruns.
Others complained about a “perceived over-provision of synagogues in the area” according to planning documents.
“On the basis that the proposed building would replace an existing community facility for a temporary period and would bring a vacant unit back into functional use, it is considered that the principle of the development is acceptable in land use terms,” said Alix Hauser in their report to the committee.
John Stebbling Architects was approached for comment.