Proposals to turn Broadway Market cafe, where locals staged a sit-in, in to seven-storey block of flats

Broadway Market

Broadway Market - Credit: Archant

A building in Broadway Market which was the site of a sit-in in more than seven years ago may be turned into a block of flats if planning proposals go ahead.

In late December 2005, a group of local protesters stormed Café Francesca and occupied it for three months to protect it from being sold off to become luxury flats after its owner Tony Platia – who ran a café on the site for 30 years – was evicted.

Although they successfully fought off the developers, the council has now received a planning application to demolish 30-34 Broadway Market and convert the building into four two-bedroom and five four-bedroom flats, seven storeys tall.

London Assembly member Andrew Boff said: “It would be a real slap in the face for market residents and traders to have this level of over-development feeding off the buzz that is generated by local people, and not the landlord or the council.

“In 2004, Hackney Speaker Jessica Webb was part of a committee which voted to allow the demolition of Tony’s café to take place. There’s lots of developers but there’s only one Hackney Council who can control the pace of development.”

Residents expressed concerns that the area was losing its “character” due to over-development in the wake of a plethora of developments such as a six-storey sheltered housing block on Lansdowne Drive, a six-storey housing block on Bocking Road and plans to build 200 new homes at the site of a former children’s hospital on the corner of Hackney Road and Goldsmith Road.

Kerry Linde, 35, a mother and Whiston Road resident, said: “All this new housing will put pressure on resources like doctors and shops. People buy these flats to rent them out or live here for a short while, which affects the community feel. The council needs to consider families like us.”

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Natasha Cousins, 35, a Pritchard’s Road resident and Broadway Market stallholder, said: “I have been coming here for 10 years and living here for eight years. I have seen lots of things change. I don’t like what’s happening now.

“I get the gentrification thing. It’s a positive thing to a degree, but then it causes negative things too.

“People with money drive house prices up. Big businesses are coming in, therefore rent has gone up from £10,000 to over £25,000 on Broadway Market.

“We have reached the point here where the artists who created the vibe have moved out. I don’t see how it can keep its character. I think the area will morph into Islington.”

A Hackney Council spokesman said: “The council takes all residents views into account before granting planning permission on any development. We consider a number of criteria when reviewing each proposal to ensure it does not damage the character of an area from both a physical and social perspective.”

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