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Give us more time to raise Old School House funding plead Hackney councillors

PUBLISHED: 09:47 25 September 2013 | UPDATED: 09:47 25 September 2013

Back row left to right: Gilbert Smyth and Councillor Ian Rathbone. Front left to right: Isla and Lana Smyth

Back row left to right: Gilbert Smyth and Councillor Ian Rathbone. Front left to right: Isla and Lana Smyth

Archant

Councillors have appealed to a housing developer to give them more time to secure funds to transform a Grade II listed building in Lower Clapton into a community centre.

Councillors want a planning application decision to turn the Old School Room into flats made at a planning committee hearing. Planning permission was granted in 2009 to turn the building, which is on the River Lea,  into a museum.Councillors want a planning application decision to turn the Old School Room into flats made at a planning committee hearing. Planning permission was granted in 2009 to turn the building, which is on the River Lea, into a museum.

Vision Homes made a promise in 2009 the Old School House building in Lea Bridge Road in Lower Clapton which they own could be turned into a heritage and community centre when they built housing on Paradise Dock.

But the community needed to raise around half a million pounds which is has still not managed to do.

Now Vision Homes wants to convert the dilapidated building into two two-bedroom flats, and has put in a planning application for change of use from a visitor centre and museum to residential.

Leabridge ward Cllrs Deniz Oguzkanli and Ian Rathbone have now stepped in to urge Vision Homes to give them a little bit longer to raise the money.

“To be fair they have waited for us to get our act together but we haven’t,” said Cllr Rathbone.

“The owner said enough time has gone by now, and he has written to me to say they aren’t necessarily going to enact the application but they have it in the background.

“If he gets permission to turn them into flats we would have to apply again to turn it back into a community space.”

With over 1,000 new homes being built in the area they believe there is a desperate need for a community space for the area.

The original idea was to build an industrial heritage museum on the river Lea, where Paradise Dock has been a transport hub for food and goods since the 1830s.

Others wanted a community centre and the vision was to create a café for artists to exhibit work, as well as a bike station on the towpath.

Clapton Arts Trust tried to apply for Heritage Lottery Fund grant but was refused because it neither owns the building nor has a lease for it.

Cllr Rathbone has now urged Vision Homes to step in and make the application themselves.

Vision Homes declined to comment.

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