Hoxton’s New Era redevelopment moves ahead with residents ‘happy’ despite accusations of ‘excessive over-intensification’

The New Era estate. Picture: Dolphin Living

The New Era estate. Picture: Dolphin Living - Credit: dolphin living

Residents of Hoxton’s New Era estate support plans approved by Hackney’s planning committee on Wednesday night to redevelop their homes.

New Era was at the heart of protests supported by Russell Brand back in 2014, after private equity firm and owners Westbrook threatened 10 per cent rent hikes.

Now plans submitted by housing charity Dolphin Living guarantee that the current, original 78 will tenants be able to stay in the redeveloped site with the right to return to a flat of equivalent size in the redevelopment in Whitmore Road, at the same rent level.

It will see 199 residential units and 344sqm of flexible retail floorspace provided across buildings ranging from three to 14 storeys.

Lindsey Garrett, chair of the New Era residents’ association, said: “We fought quite a huge campaign some years ago to try to keep our community together. We’ve been through hell and back trying to keep together and remain on affordable rents.

“Our current flats are not fit for purpose. There are problems with damp, no adequate fire escapes, and there are disabled or terminally ill residents who would not be able to get out in a fire.

“We’re in total support of the propositions from Dolphin, which is to rebuild and will hopefully make our lives safer, have a better quality of life as long as we can continue to have affordable rents and our families can stay together – for me that is the most imortant thing.

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In total, 35 per cent of the newly redeveloped estate will be affordable, with 47 flats let at up to 80 per cent of market rent and 21 at London Living rent levels, well below the 50 per cent of affordable housing expected under Hackney’s policies and slammed as “unacceptable” by the Greater London Authority.

The planning report makes clear that, as an 80 per cent discount of market rent is not genuinely affordable in Hoxton, that the true level of affordability in the new development equates to 10 per cent of the scheme.

Officers stressed to listening councillors that adding more affordable homes to the redeveloped estate would make the new scheme more unviable, with Dolphin already aiming to seek affordable housing grant funding from either Hackney Council or the GLA now that planning permission has been given.

Dolphin’s plans were criticised for blotting out light for the Comet Nursery School and Children’s Centre next door, and for “excessive over-intensification” by the Hackney Society heritage group.

The Hackney Society warned: “The proposals are an obtrusive and incompatible form of development and harmful to the character and appearance of the area. The scheme has 200 per cent higher density than recommended in the London Plan.”

Olivia Harris, CEO of Dolphin Living, said: “We are delighted with the council’s decision to grant us planning permission. It not only allows us to continue to provide high quality, affordable homes to London’s key workers close to their places of work but it also guarantees the future of the New Era Estate and the community that lives there.”

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