Housing plan for De Beauvoir estate approved – despite environmental concerns

Illustration of the new homes on Downham Road East

Illustration of the new homes on Downham Road East - Credit: Henley Halebrown and Stephen Taylor Architects

The first stage of a council plan to build new homes on the De Beauvoir estate has been approved, although some residents said the scheme is not green enough.

Hackney council will build 189 new homes in five new six-storey blocks in infill sites on the estate off Downham Road and a four-storey terrace.  

It includes 59 homes for social rent and another 36 for intermediate rent, and is the first stage of a multi-million pound scheme  on the 1970s De Beauvoir estate.

Rachel Bagenal, the council’s head of housing supply, said it can only afford to build council homes if it builds properties to sell.

She said there are 34 families on the estate with “urgent” housing need.

The scheme will see the demolition of a residents' association building, which will get a new home, and new play areas and community space will be created.

The council will contribute £377,000 to make the estate greener, mitigating for cutting down 18 trees, including a category A yew tree. 71 new trees will be planted.

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Planning officer Nick Bovaird told the planning meeting on July 28 there would be a net gain in biodiversity.

Green councillor Zoe Garbett (Dalston) said residents from Downham Road West are concerned about the demolition of green space and felling of mature trees.

She read their statement which said: "The climate emergency is happening now, witness the unprecedented level four heat alert issued last week so it is  completely irresponsible to destroy carbon sequestering mature  trees and two thirds of this green space."

They said the council is "making great strides" in other areas and called for "consistency".

Cllr Garbett said: “The loss of biodiversity would be immense."

Speaking in favour of the plan, ward councillor Polly Billington (Lab) said there are 3,000 people in temporary homes, “many of whom are living only hundreds of yards” from the site.

She said families are overcrowded in one-bedroom homes and there are 13,000 on the waiting list.

She said: “The only thing we can do in the long term is to build more genuinely affordable homes.”

Cllr Billington said residents helped draw up the blueprint for the site, and said she was proud it would see more trees, more play space and more green space.

The plan was unanimously passed by the planning committee.