Hackney Joint Estates Charity makes U-turn

A charity has dropped plans to build three houses in an Upper Clapton car park, which had caused consternation amongst nearby residents.

Tenants of Vyner Court in Rossington Street feared overcrowding and the loss of their parking spaces if Hackney Joint Estates Charity’s (HJEC) plans to demolish five garages at the rear of the flats went ahead.

Another 15 parking spaces would have been built on to make way for a single storey building containing three two-bedroom homes.

“Here we have a Victorian charity established to alleviate the suffering of the poor of the borough that, last year, did its best to swell their ranks by presenting stall holders on Well Street Market with a massive rent hike that threatened the livelihoods of many of them,” said Mark Westcott whose access to his home in Geldeston Road would have been blocked by the development.

“Now they’re at it again, once more attempting to blight the lives of their own tenants with unwarranted and unwelcome development on a tiny but much valued plot of land,” he added.

Last year 25 shopkeepers in Well Street feared they could be forced out of business after the charity raised their rents by more than 100 per cent, saying it needed to bring them in line with market rates.

But HJEC, which acts as a landlord letting out commercial and residential properties, and distributes the income to three charities, has taken on board residents’ views aired in a meeting and dropped its plans – much to their delight.

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“The Trustees take their responsibility to maximise the commercial possibilities of the estate very seriously, in doing so they hope to generate more funds which in turn flow to the Parochial charities,” said Benjamin Janes, clerk to the HJEC Trustees.

“But they also recognise that in the past they may have ignored, to their own detriment, the need to be good neighbours,” he added.

“In listening to the views of tenants and the wider community they hope to rectify this.”

“The Trustees hope that by undertaking a suitable consultation process a reasonable compromise can be reached; our view is that the tenants’ wishes for redevelopment in and around Vyner Court need to be taken into account.”

Mr Westcott said residents were delighted with the decision: “This is a magnanimous offer on their part,” he said.