Triumph as Clapton trams sheds get third reprieve

Third application to transform historic depot hits brick wall

RESIDENTS and traders were triumphant this week when an old Upper Clapton tram depot they had been campaigning to save was granted a third reprieve.

Hackney Council’s planning sub-committee gave developer Sean Meadows permission at the end of June to bulldoze business premises in Upper Clapton Road – an area known as the Clapton Tram Sheds – to make way for blocks of flats up to seven storeys high.

However, the plans fell through this week when town hall bosses announced they had refused to allow a council-owned community hall to be included in the redevelopment.

Upper Clapton residents and traders, with the support of Leabridge ward councillors, had battled against the third attempt to replace the tram depot, heralding it as a gem of Hackney’s heritage and warning that up to 100 people could be left jobless.

David White, secretary of Beecholme and Casimir Tenants’ and Residents’ Association, which uses the Alf Partridge community hall, which is managed by Hackney Homes, questioned the inclusion of the hall at a committee meeting in June.

Now Hackney’s assistant director of planning, Graham Loveland, has told Leabridge ward councillors permission has not been granted – rendering the scheme “unimplementable”. “When our hall was included in the application, we assumed that a lease or sale agreement had already been drawn up, but apparently it was, in effect, a speculative application on behalf of the developer,” said Mr White

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“The whole tenants’ and residents’ association, along with the 1,300 objectors, is grateful that the proposed, over-dense, ‘city centre’, ‘clone town’ development will now not go ahead.”

Ward councillors Linda Kelly, Deniz Oguzkanli and Ian Rathbone released a joint statement saying: “We welcome the sensible decision made by the planning department that the proposed scheme to ruin the 150-year-old tram depot site in Upper Clapton Road is “unimplementable’.”

They called for changes to the planning process in Hackney, including more consideration for objectors and more rigorous checks on developers.

Mr Meadows said he would move forward despite the decision.

“We were approached by the council to include the community centre site within our scheme and provide both a new community centre plus affordable housing for the borough,” he said.

“I am pleased that the application was approved by the planning sub-committee and look forward to working with the council to bring this to fruition.”

A council spokeswoman said Mr Meadows would have to decide whether to submit an amended or fresh application, but that it was likely that the proposals would go before the committee again.

Meanwhile, residents are working to turn the tram depot site into an arts centre.