Hackney Council seeks to enforce Colvestone light covenant

A scale drawing of how big the development will be next to the school

A scale drawing of how big the development will be next to the school - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council is seeking to overturn a decision made by its own planning committee to grant permission for a block of luxury flats, which would rob an adjoining school playground of light.

Plans by developers Chan and Eayrs were approved last month for the three-storey block of light-filled single occupancy flats and a ground floor café next to Colvestone Primary School, next to Ridley Road, Dalston.

Scores of parents and residents had launched a petition, Save Our Sunshine, against the scheme, saying light would be blocked off from the children in the playground.

Chan and Eayrs’ website states: “We believe that simple things like the natural light that fills a space and awakens your spirits…. enriches life in a way that is priceless.”

But it emerged just two days after the decision that a restrictive covenant written into the property deeds by Hackney Council in 2001, when the land was sold off, stipulated the school’s “right to uninterrupted and unheeded access of light and air”.

The covenant was not flagged up to members of the planning committee or mentioned in the planning documents.

Neighbour Judith Watt threatened to pursue a judicial review against the decision if Mayor Jules Pipe did not call it in and take action to ensure the development does not block the school grounds from direct sunlight.

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A judicial review allows the public to challenge a decision, action or failure to act of a public body – but can be costly if lost.

But the Gazette can now reveal the council is going to take action.

Ms Watt issued her challenge following a study by independent sunlight experts Anstey Horne, which concluded the construction would cause “an increase of three to four times the existing levels of overshadowing”.

She said: “The covenant is binding on the person who bought it and Chan bought it in 2010. The council had the good foresight to add the covenant in 2001 – we are talking this century.”

Ms Watt, a freelance consultant on public health issues who has worked for the World Health Organisation, added: “Children are out in the playground all the time growing plants, it’s a learning place, it’s not only used in morning break and lunch time.

“Because it will be in shade for so long, it will be damp, there will be mould and slime, it won’t make it just unpleasant but unhealthy, and we know that one of the kids has vitamin D deficiency and there is a significant increase in rickets, particularly in east London – which is linked to lack of sunlight.”

Chan and Eayrs declined to comment on whether it was aware of the binding covenant when it submitted the plans for development.

A spokesman for the council said: “We are looking to enforce the restriction to title regarding access to light and air and are taking appropriate professional advice. All parties will be kept informed of progress in this matter.”