More developers could lodge proposals for Hackney Central site

Morning Lane People's Space campaigners.

Morning Lane People's Space campaigners. - Credit: Morning Lane People\'s Space

Town Hall bosses have signalled they are open to hearing from more developers with ideas for a controversial site in Hackney Central.

An existing agreement with a developer for the council-owned Morning Lane location expires in March, and a full planning application is yet to be submitted.

The council bought the site in 2017 for £55m – plus £5m in stamp duty, VAT and fees – using money from the Treasury-backed Public Works Loans Board, saying it would give it more control over the development.

It entered into an agreement with Hackney Walk Ltd to develop a Tesco superstore as well as a mix of homes, shops and offices.

The scheme could result in a 19-storey block of flats with 530 homes.
Campaign group Morning Lane People’s Space has welcomed the signal from the Town Hall.

Heather Mendick said: “This means that they can abandon the bad and do something good and go back to the drawing board.”

She added: “[The council] must ask ‘Who is Hackney for?’ – it’s about affordability in shops and housing.”

Adam Forman, Morning Lane People's Space

Adam Forman, Morning Lane People's Space - Credit: Morning Lane People's Space

A pre-planning application was lodged in 2019 and campaigners complained about the proposed 20 per cent of affordable housing falling far short of the council’s own policy for 50 per cent. The council said it was working to boost the amount to 35-50 per cent.

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The council says it is “now exploring other options for the future of the site and wider town centre” in case full a planning application is not submitted in the next six months.

It said it would consult the public over any alternative proposals.

Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville said: “Our agreement with Hackney Walk is designed to deliver exactly the kind of things that local people have told us they want to see and what our town centre needs.

"[This is] more shops, more affordable workspace, places for businesses to grow, affordable homes and better public spaces, as well as long-term income for the council to fund vital public services.”

He said it was “common sense” to explore other options if Hackney Walk does not submit fully worked-up plans for the multi-million pound site.

The authority is also talking to residents and businesses about their ideas for the future of Hackney Central. So far 2,000 people have shared their views.

Morning Lane People’s Space and Save Ridley Road campaigners are staging a protest outside the full council meeting this Wednesday (20 October).

They are “demanding development in Hackney that puts the needs of residents for social housing, affordable shops and markets, and community spaces above the needs of property developers to generate a profit”.

Save Ridley Road is also protesting about the council’s plans for the market in Dalston.