Hackney Council rethinks “duff” planning decision after High Court action threats

A “duff decision” to demolish heritage warehouses on a peaceful stretch of the Regent’s Canal to make way for a massive modern block of flats has been re-called to Hackney Council’s planning committee tomorrow night.

In July councillors approved housing association Family Mosaic’s application to build three blocks up to seven-storeys high in Branch Place, overhanging the water.

Half of the Rosemary Works building is scheduled for demolition, and long-established businesses will have to find alternative workspace.

Barry Buitekant - the only councillor to vote against the development - said the development was “far too intrusive, bulky and high” for the conservation area.

But the decision has now been brought back to the agenda tomorrow night after Del Brenner from campaign group Regents’ Network and Waterways Commission threatened to take the council to the High Court.

He criticised them for not taking into account the London Plan’s Blue Ribbon Network policies, which govern all of London’s waterways including rivers, canals and reservoirs, protecting these open spaces in the same way as parks.

“Hackney has brought its duff decision for Rosemary Works back to the committee to get it sorted out,” said Mr Brenner.

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“They don’t want to say the decision is void but in fact it would be void by the time I have taken it to the High Court, it would be quashed - there’s not much doubt about that and it’s confirmed by them having second thoughts about it.”

Taking legal action in the High Court is costly, but Mr Brenner already successfully challenged Haringey Council when it ignored Blue Ribbon Network policies.

The planning officer’s new report asks planning committee members to “confirm” their previous decision, “in order to avoid uncertainty as to whether regard was had to this development plan policy.”

“Hackney is trying to patch up their unsafe and muddled decision,” said Mr Brenner, “But under the circumstances it is not a patch-up, but more a stitch-up,” he added.

He is calling for the decision to be called in properly, and he would like to personally brief all councillors on the planning committee about the Blue Ribbon Network.

No affordable workspace has been provided in the new scheme – despite the area being designated a high priority employment area by the council.

Family Mosaic group development director, Dick Mortimer said: “The association is ‘not for profit’ and proceeds from sales will be reinvested and used to cross-subsidise more affordable housing to help those who need it most.”

A spokeswoman for the council said it would be inappropriate to comment until the scheme had gone back to committee for ratification.