Friday 10 November 2006

High Court Injunction granted. Reprieve for Dalston Theatre and Georgian houses

The High Court today granted OPEN another injunction forbidding Hackney Council from demolishing Dalston Theatre, the 1886 Circus entrance and the Georgian and Victorian houses at 4-12 Dalston Lane, London E8.

The buildings had previously been protected by an injunction which was issued on 5 April 2006 but, following the Council granting planning permission to the London Development Agency (LDA) to demolish the buildings and replace them with tower blocks, that injunction lapsed on 18th September with Hackney Council promising not to commence any demolition work for a further 4 weeks.

In Court today Hackney Council refused to give Mr Justice Sullivan an undertaking that it would not commence demolition work and so the Order was made to continue protection of the buildings until the application comes back to Court for a more detailed hearing on 1st December.

On 9th November the Secretary of State’s representative issued a decision that the LDAs planning application will not be "called in" although the LDA's planned development provides for only 24% of the new flats to be “affordable housing”.

OPEN obtained a structural report from Mr Brian Morton MBE, Engineer to Canterbury and Bury St Edmunds cathedrals, following his inspection of the buildings in August 2005. He found that repair of the Theatre for a variety of uses, and of the historic houses, was possible.

Hackney Council has produced a new structural engineer's report which states that repair of the Dalston Theatre is now no longer “practical” and, in view of this finding, the Council now claim that planning permission for its demolition is technically no longer required and that it can demolish the Theatre using “permitted development” rights which merely requires its own Planning Department’s agreement.

Hackney Council have produced no evidence that re-use of the 1886 Circus entrance and the Georgian & Victorian houses at 4-12 Dalston Lane is not possible, but still insist on demolishing them too.

Further information on the history of OPENs struggle to get Hackney Council to consider the potential for re-use of these buildings can be found below – particularly “The story that was never told”.

Thursday 2 November 2006

Dalston Theatre occupiers evicted

At 5.30am today police used ropes and ladders to scale Dalston Theatre and gain entry to the buildings occupied by protesters who have been resisting the demolition of Dalston's heritage buildings since February

The protestors were shown eviction paperwork issued in the Court following possession proceedings last March

Fortunately no blood was spilt but the protestors were soon on the street and the Council are then reported to have broken all the ground floor windows before sealing up the building.

Despite the Secretary of State's recent direction that the Council must not issue the planning permission to the London Development Agency to demolish the buildings, the Council has stated that it is now free to proceed with the demolitions. OPEN has warned the Council that, if it trys to predetermine the Secretary of State's investigation in this way, a further application to the High Court will be made for an injunction.