Editor’s comment: LP33 is serious stuff (despite the diagrams)

Ridley Road Studios

Ridley Road Studios - Credit: Ridley Road Studios

“Keep it exactly the same” or “change it completely”?

These are the alarming headings under which each of Hackney’s town centres is graded in the borough’s hefty 15-year local plan, officially “LP33” (no, it’s nothing to do with vinyl albums), which is published in draft form this week.

Monumental decisions about the future of Hackney are helpfully represented as points on an axis that spans these two extremes, labelled for illustration in different regions as “reinforce”, “repair” and “reinvent”.

Little did we expect the draft guidance – which fortunately does also contain some actual detail – to prove its worth while it was just hours old.

But no sooner had its 127 pages crashed the Gazette’s ancient computers than was the council squaring up to the management of Ridley Road Shopping Village on the shoulders of one of the local plan’s key objectives for Dalston.

If the council is to thwart the demolition of the shopping village, it will be through the application of guidance such as the local plan, which states: “Change of use away from A1 retail will be resisted in [...] Ridley Road Market,” and: “Development which would result in the permanent loss of markets or pitches will be refused unless appropriate comparable replacement provision is made.”

The loss of the shopping village would be a legitimate threat to the market’s survival. Ridley Villas a few doors down is a reminder of the sore need for more social housing in Hackney, but 10 luxury flats won’t help anyone like Sarah Abraham-Henry.

The council can’t just say yes or no to stuff at whim without getting ripped apart on appeal. But what it can do is bring forward policies and guidance that will empower it to create and protect a fair, equal borough. All eyes (our eyes, anyway) will be on the town hall to see if that happens here.