Monday, 19 January 2015

Court of Appeal can't stop the demolition of Dalston's Georgian houses

Lord Justice Sullivan has refused OPEN permission to continue with its appeal against demolition of the Georgian houses of Dalston Lane. When defending OPEN's claim Hackney was reduced to pleading its own negligence - that, despite its claims to be "champions of our heritage", the years of lack of maintenance had caused such deterioration that the buildings could no longer be saved.

The highly respected Judges held that, whatever their personal views, their powers to judicially review were restricted and so they could not interfere. Mr Justice Collins said he was "not without considerable sympathy for the approach of the objectors". The Judges found that the Planning Committee was entitled to accept its officers' recommendation for demolition provided it followed due process ( ie The Committee were entitled to foul it up provided it did so properly! Ed.)

The Committee were aware that Hackney's own independent expert, Alan Baxter Associates, as well many other experts, considered that some or most the buildings could be saved. It was also aware that Hackney Council had designated the Conservation Area to protect the houses and had passed policies requiring their restoration. It was also aware of the hundreds of objections including those of national amenity societies like the Georgian Group and the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings. And so, the Judges found, it could not be said that the Committee had overlooked these opinions and policies when exercising its 'planning judgement' to accept the opinion of Murphy (Hackney's development partner) that the buildings were by then beyond redemption and to allow their demolition.

The Story of Dalston Terrace 1807 -2014 describes the appalling neglect of these antique houses (Video)

Murphy are now proceeding with Phase 1 of their plan - complete demolition of Nos 66-76 Dalston Lane and then rebuilding of the facades in "heritage likeness" with new flats all for private sale. Once complete, unless Hackney has a change of heart, it will then proceed with Phase 2 at Nos 48 - 64 Dalston Lane, in perhaps 9-12 months time.

The local community and national amenity societies have strongly backed OPEN's campaign. There were over 750 objections to Murphy's planning application to demolish the houses. Faced with a divided Committee it's Chair, Councillor Stopps, used his casting vote to grant permission. OPEN had raised over £15,000 in its appeal to fund the legal fight, which was sustained for 12 months since Hackney first tried to demolish the houses illegally. Since May 2014 Hackney have refused to consider the Spitalfields Trust proposal to restore the 1807 houses and develop the remainder with a housing association for affordable rented flats.

The petition to Hackney's Mayor to allow this proposal has had over 860 signatures to date. You can still sign the petition and tell the Mayor your views, and we urge you to do so.

This is a sad day for Dalston. Hackney Council has already lost us £millions by its mismanagement of Dalston Terrace. Our future generations are now about to lose heritage assets, in which they could have taken pride once restored, and lose the opportunity for affordable homes which could prevent at least a few local people from being driven from the area by extortionate local rents. The loss will be irreversible and we are saddened by this and by Hackney's Mayor and our elected representatives failure to fulfil their promises to our community that the houses would be protected and restored.


  1. This happens all the time - the resources for preservation are scarce, so the buildings get to a state where they can't be saved, and if they don't fall down, they get demolished. I feel the negligence is an unwritten policy along the lines of - "ignore the problem and it will go away"

    1. On Dalston Lane the resources for preservation weren't scarce. Hackney left the houses empty. Couldn't be arsed. So no tenants to repair them and no rents to improve them. Deliberate neglect

  2. A big Thank You for Bill Parry-Davies,

    You have devoted your time and energy to save our local heritage over a sustained period of time, those of us who love Hackney and count it as our home have witnessed the cleansing of our Borough of the low income population who gave Hackney it's life.

    We in the Wilberforce Road residents group are witnessing the eviction of unprotected tenants to make way for the rich. we are witnessing the loss of our desirable Victorian houses and gardens through extreme excavation projects. We will continue to resist this senseless destruction and the evictions of unprotected tenants who have lived here for decades.

    We want to offer our support, we will never stop our resistance.

    Tim Smith on behalf of Wilberforce Road residents.

  3. Somebody who has had to mortgage themselves up to the eyeballs in order to buy a flat could hardly be classified as rich. What else are they supposed to do? Affordable housing is great if you are one of those lucky enough to get it. The rest of us watch in horror as brand new flats are allocated to people who often turn them into slums within a few months.

    1. Blaming slums on the poor is an easy target. What do you think of property owners neglecting and vandalising their property so the can get planning permission for demolition? And developers who over develop their sites causing environmental degradation to surrounding areas? And weak planning authorities which allow it?


Please leave comments that will add to the debate! We will not publish comments which are abusive or repetitive.

If we do not publish your comment and you are unhappy, please email with your contact details.