Hackney Council’s own planning application flawed, opponents claim

A Stoke Newington special needs school which could double in size if proposals are rubber stamped by Hackney Council’s planning committee tonight, has not followed the proper planning process its opponents claim.

Traffic mayhem will ensue if the massive development at Horizon School in Wordsworth Road gets the go-ahead warn residents - as pupil figures double and teacher numbers treble.

Residents claim many surveys in support of the application are flawed or missing and want the council to delay making a decision on its own application until proper traffic and biodiversity surveys are completed.

Resident Sarah Cooney McQuat said: “The planning application and its supporting documents suffer from inaccuracies and/or are incomplete because the client is the Hackney Borough, and the decision will be taken by Hackney Borough.

“This application must be “whiter than white” and no shortcuts taken - this is certainly not the case with the application as it stands now.”

Apple and rowan trees on the school site face the chop - where it is believed nationally scarce rare Red-Belted clearwing moths are breeding – along with around 30 mature trees with Tree Protection Orders on the public highway in Prince George Road.

Although residents have seen bats in the area, none are recorded on the biodiversity report – because it was carried out in December when they were hibernating.

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EU law requires a bat survey to be undertaken before a planning application, not after.

Arboriculture expert Russell Miller said the development would have a massive impact on wildlife: “The overall consequence of the current plan would be a complete clearance of the mature vegetation and habitat on site, thereby setting back to zero on the local ecological clock.”

A roof garden added to plans at the last minute is not included in the architectural drawings - although residents say its railings will have a huge impact on the building’s height.

Residents asked chair of the planning committee Cllr Vincent Stops to stand down when the decision is taken, believing there could be a conflict of interest - because his partner, Cllr Rita Krishna, who sits on the council’s cabinet with an education remit, is keen to push through the proposals.

Cllr Stops did not immediately step down, but referred the matter to the council’s legal advisor who decided he should.

Calls to delay the hearing at Hackney Town Hall have met with deaf ears, and planning officers have recommended planning permission be granted subject to conditions.