Friday 21 December 2007

Another box of tricks from Hackney

This is the 2007 Christmas Card signed and sent by the Speaker of Hackney Council. It shows a gift to the people of Hackney, TfL's railway logo and the Council's "I love Hackney" logo.

Commenting on the new Dalston Junction station TfL had stated as recently as November "We'd ask you very strongly that you'd not refer to it as "the Tube"...You should not describe it as the Tube as it is not the Tube". Regretably the Council's Speaker has been sadly misinformed.

The Council Speaker's misunderstanding about this is not suprising. Before the last Council elections the Labour Party described its ambitions for Dalston as including a "tube". The promotional material for TfL's planning application, for its Dalston Junction towerblock development, also described it as a "tube" station, as this image from March 2006 shows.

GLA Mayor Livingstone's London Development Agency also used the tube logo in the images promoting its planning application, for the Council's neighbouring Dalston Theatre site, to demolish Dalston's historic buildings and redevelop with towerblocks. The Hackney Gazette & the Council's Hackney Today paper were also mislead and even now still refer to the proposed Dalston Junction station as a "tube" station.

But despite what Hackney Council, the GLA, TfL and the LDA have all been claiming for the last 2 years, the new Dalston Junction railway station will not be a tube station. It is an overground line station, just like Dalston Kingsland. It will be part of the Overground not the Underground network. Nor does it go to the City or to the Olympic site.

Even the Council's Deputy Mayor and Chief Whip of the Hackney Labour Party, Luke Akehurst, seems to have believed the spin when he said as recently as July 2007 "A derelict theatre or a tube station, which do you think people in Hackney want more?" Whatever the public might have wanted, Dalston will have neither. Furthermore the demolition of Dalston's historic buildings had nothing to do with funding the new station. Funding for the East London Line Extension to Dalston had already got Government approval in the summer of 2004. Dalston's ELLX railway station was going ahead in any event.

The authorities eventually admitted in OPEN's Court proceedings that the profits, from the demolitions and building towerblock flats for sale on Hackney's site, were in fact to be used to subsidise a £39million bus station on a slab above the new Dalston Junction station. Mayor Livingstone's GLA required Hackney taxpayers, and not London communters, to pay the £19million funding shortfall. No one mentioned that Dalston's heritage buildings were to be sacrificed not to pay for a tube but for a bus station.

However, now that the buildings have been demolished and the dust has settled, TfL has put new promotional material, including local childrens' paintings, up on the hoardings fronting their site.

So was it a simple error that caused the authorities, including TfL, to describe the East London Line Extension as a tube? Or did they think the public might be prepared to pay a higher price if what we thought we were getting was to be the tube?

The Vandals: an eastern Germanic tribe which earned notoriety by it sacking Rome in the 5th century but which was defeated by the Goths.

Vandalism: the gratuitous anti-social destruction of the environment and artistic creations.

Municipal vandalism: the destruction of our cultural heritage by corporate ignorance, deliberate neglect, deceit, vanity and greed all in the name of progress

Monday 3 December 2007

Hackney Council demolishes more Georgian houses

This is 60-66 Dalston Lane, part of an 1827 Georgain terrace, as it looked in March 2004 when the new owners, an off-shore company, applied for planning permission to demolish the terrace and build rabbit-hutches.
OPEN called in English Heritage who, in August 2004, advised that:
"this is a strong group that has clear local history, despite the poor condition that detracts from their cohesion. Overall the buldings make a valuable contribution to the area, representing early 19th century development in Hackney, an area that grew considerable in this period....inclusion on the local list or within a Conservation Area would be an appropriate designation and recognition of the buildings significance"
Within one month of that report there was an arson attack and 62-64Dalston Lane were burnt down. Mysteriously, bricks from the flank wall of 60 Dalston Lane, and part of the roof, were later deliberately removed.

OPEN has previously written here about the history

In January 2005 the Dalston Lane (West) Conservaton Area was declared. Councillor Nicholson, Hackney Council's Cabinet member for regeneration, said at the time "We're keen conservation areas are used to bring buildings back into use and create improvements to the built environment."
OPEN has since then been urging the Council to take action to bring them back into use and improve the environment. In November 2006 the Council wrote to local shops about its responsibility for and committment to "preserving Hackney's built heritage". Eventually in September 2007 the Council exercised conservation area powers to make the buildings structurally sound and watertight. But it was too little and too late. They had become struturally unstable - and so the Council has done what the owners had wanted all along. It demolished them.

OPEN has asked the Council what its powers and intentions are to rebuild them. Answer came there none.

Wednesday 3 October 2007

Livingstone's tall storeys railroad Dalston

This is the railway cutting in which Transport for London's (TfL) works are on track to deliver the new Dalston Junction station in 2010 as part of the East London Line extension (ELLX) in Hackney.

Although the ELLX is a significant investment in Hackney's transport infrastructure it will not, despite the claims made, be part of the London Underground tube network. It is an overground line. Nor will the ELLX restore Dalston's direct rail link to the City which closed in 1986. Nor does it run to the 2012 Olympic site at Stratford. The ELLX stations in Hackney will not be tube stations.

Our local MPs, Councillors and others have been campaigning for years, if not decades, to connect Hackney to the London Underground tube network. The tube was what would finally put Hackney on the map. It is also seen as an essential element to regenerate an impoverised area. Whoever secured delivery of the tube in Hackney would be triumphant.

But what if the agencies of Mayor Livingstone's Greater London Authority (GLA), with the cooperation of local politicians, could credibly present the ELLX as the arrival in Hackney of the tube? Who knows what price the public might be prepared to pay for such a prize and what rewards might be had by the authorities and local officials.

This promotional image of the authorities plans for Dalston shows that they are guilty of a misrepresentation - Dalston Junction will not be a tube station. Sadly there are many more misrepresentations that have enabled officialdom to destroy historic Dalston, to betray their promises of affordable housing, to dispose for a peppercorn of public land worth £millions and to blight the local, and the wider, environment by gross and profligate overdevelopment.

The planning permission and funding for the ELLX was already in place when TfL had the thought to construct a massive concrete slab spanning over the new railway station. TfL had identified the need to create a bus "turnaround" where some existing, and some new, bus routes from the north would terminate in Dalston and where passengers could interchange with the ELLX rail link. This would reduce bus miles and road congestion into the City. There was nowhere else, TfL said, to put the turnaround and so it is to be built on a concrete slab on top of the new railway station. The estimates for the cost of slab have risen to £39 million. At some £2.5 million per bus stand, and with a 15,000 tonnes carbon footprint, the slab will provide the most expensive bus turnaround in history.

The £39 million cost to build the slab is to be subsidised by £10 million from the government and £10 million from TfL. It is the £19 million funding shortfall that has determined the form of development to be undertake on TfL's site and on Hackney Council's neighbouring site.

The authorities planned to boost the sale value of their sites by first obtaining planning permission for "high revenue generating development". In TfL's case this meant residential tower blocks of up to 20 storeys with 309 private flats for sale, shops and commercial uses. But despite the £39 million public subsidy, and the authorities policies that 50% of new housing developments should be affordable, there is presently to be no public or affordable housing at all on the TfL site.

The development was promoted by TfL and the London Development Agency (LDA) as “regeneration” inspired – “to create a critical mass of people with higher incomes” (Drivers Jonas) with “12 trains an hour to the City” (TfL) and an intention to attract national retailers. It was claimed that the development will bring prosperity for local people. Dalston would become a shopping destination. Each of the new housholds would spend £488 per week in the local area. These claims invite scepticism but undoubtably some people will become more prosperous as a result of this development. Dalston artists have decorated TfL's image of the development.

TfL claimed that the development would be "beneficial in terms of landscape quality and visual impact", however the Council's own report described TfLs's buildings as “austere” and its proposed 20 storey skyscraper as “a stark concrete tower with punched openings for windows”. TfLs environmental consultants described how there will be 80 concrete lorries arriving every day for weeks in Dalston and how “during construction overshadowing and sunlighting losses will begin to occur as the development progresses”.

OPEN, the Kingsland Conservation Area Advisory Committee, the De Beauvoir Association and many local residents objected to TfL's planning application at the time. The objections were to the mass and density of the development, the degraded design standards, the absence of any affordable housing, the loss of human scale to the environment, the profligate use of financial and natural resources and the inadequacy of the planned "open space". To some TfLs proposal appeared to be purely profit-led with scant regard to its environmental context - the crude imposition of a transport-hub to benefit TfL's business but which blights Dalston. To others it seemed to create a buy-to-let opportunity for absentee landlords which would result in families on housing benefit, with children, living up to the 20th floor on short-term tenacies - the re-building of the now demolished high-rise slums of old Holly Street estate. However our local elected politicians decribed it as progress, to bring the 21st century to Dalston, and the Hackney Council's Planning Committee granted TfL permission for the development in March 2006.

TfL had told OPEN that there were no implications for Dalston's heritage architecture arising from its proposals. By that time, with the ELLX plans in place, it had already quietly demolished the original 1865 Dalston Junction station buildings.

The hoardings have now been extended along Dalston Lane and further demolitions are planned and imminent - 2a Dalston Lane, with its decorative wall, curved glass windows and interior period detailing is next to go along with the Victorian house next door.

The Victorian cottages in Roseberry Place have also it seems finally been purchased and now boarded up, soon to be demolished to create space to perhaps squeeze another block of flats onto TfL's site.

A further demolition is planned of 570-572 Kingsland Road (Oxfam) to enable some 50 buses an hour to have ramped access from the turnaround on the slab, across the pavement, into the oncoming traffic of Kingsland Road. Its loss will leave a gap between the listed Georgian terraced buildings of Kingsland Conservation Area - "particularly harmful to the setting of the listed buildings which directly abut the break" (Hackney Council)

The "air rights" to build on TfL's slab, have been offered to the major volume house-builder, Barratt. There is a recent local example of a Barratt development neighbouring Hackney's Town Hall square, on the strategic Richmond Road/Mare Street junction, which has been the subject of some controversy.

The Council, as local planning authority, are responsibile for ensuring that Barratt will build in accordance with the approved detailed designs and materials. The head of Design for London("DfL"), Peter Bishop, has informed OPEN that DfL will also use its influence to ensure a quality outcome.

At the time when the TfL scheme obtained planning approval, in March 2006, Hackney Council was developing a scheme for its neighbouring site on which stood historic buildings comprising a unique 1886 circus entrance, Dalston Theatre and two locally listed Georgian houses (their history is described here). In Spring 2005 TfL had already drawn up, at the Council's request, a masterplan for both sites in which Dalston's historic buildings had been replaced. In July 2005 the Council's members had been presented with a Planning Brief for the sites to which agreement was essential, it was said, "to ensure the delivery of the East London Line Project...failure to agree the brief will impact on the delivery of the station by 2010". Any threat to Dalston's "tube" was politically unacceptable. Councillors were required to approve "maximising the development potential" of both sites which were considered suitable for tall buildings to a "maximum of 12-15 storeys" with a target of "50% affordable housing". Although the Brief referred to the possibility of demolition, a seperate report referred to the Council's commitment to demolition.

The Brief stated that the two developments would be"complementary" but the plans for the Council's and TfL's developments were not presented side-by-side during the public consultation until an OPEN public meeting in November 2005. There was uproar when the architects drawings were produced.

Dalston Lane's historic buildings were now on the footprint of a proposed 20 storey tower block. They were, in effect, on death row awaiting demolition. The Council made a planning application to itself and, in the face of objections and demonstrations at the Town Hall by the local community, its Planning Committee voted in February 2006 to demolish all the historic buildings.

Many in the community also supported campaigners who took direct action to protect the buildings by occupation

The decision to proceed with demolitions was not however to be taken by our elected policitians but, once again, by a few Council officials. In March the Council's Chief Executive identified a situation of "extreme urgency" to justify authorising funds for implementing the demolition contract (the costs of which were to be reimbursed by the LDA).

The community's awareness and objections to the plans were growing. TfL announced in June that, in the light of the consultation "TfL will meet the costs of the rail station and the bus station" and that the development plans had been modified - the overall density of the two sites had been reduced from 800 to less than 600 flats. The density of the Council's scheme was now for 244 flats, in blocks of up to 20 storeys. But of the 550 flats to be built on both sites only 58, and not 50%, were to be affordable. The rest are, presently, all planned for sale.

The LDA produced a model of the two schemes and in March 2006 made an application to the Council for planning permission to demolish all the buildings on the Council's site and build towerblocks. Despite overwhelming objections from the community the application was granted by the Council's Planning Committee in July 2006.

The purpose of constructing a massive concrete slab over the new ELLX Dalston Junction station is to provide a bus turnaround to benefit TfL's business and London wide commuters. However evidence emerged that the £19 million shortfall on the cost of TfL's slab is not to be met by the Greater London Authority(GLA), nor by its agencies TfL and the LDA, but by Hackney Council's taxpayers. The most money to be made would be from a flattened Council site with permission for a high-rise high-density development with the bare minimum of affordable housing. This is what TfL and the LDA required and what Hackney Council agreed to and has now delivered. It remains to include the Council's site in the LDA's deal with Barrat, the proposed developer of both sites. In return for the disposal of a 125 year lease of its site the Council will get only four empty floors of a towerblock (for a new library)from the developer and the true market value of the site will be used to subsidise the GLA's slab.(See here- Greater London Authority mugs Hackney. Dalston blighted).

Whilst TfL had informed OPEN that it's scheme had no heritage implications, the reverse in fact was true - the demolition of Dalston's historic buildings was a key to subsisiding TfL's slab. As the LDA was to inform the High Court in September 2006 "the development is not possible without demolition...the LDA would have insufficient fund the slab shortfall of £19 million... failure to undertake the demolition will lead to the abandonment of the existing proposals for the Dalston Project...the opportunity to build the slab will be missed".

The Secretary of State was asked to consider the schemes and decided on 9th November 2006 that "any loss of [Dalston's historic buildings]..can not be given particular weight...noted the design of the proposed buildings and the level of affordable housing.....has concluded that there is not sufficient conflict with national planning policies, or any sufficient reason, to warrant calling in the application.."

Since December 2005 OPEN had obtained a series of injunctions in the High Court to restrain the Council from demolishing the buildings whilst seeking to persuade the authorities to reconsider and retain something of Dalston's history and character. The Council acknowledged that it had never considered whether the historic buildings could be retained as part of the plans. OPEN's application for judicial review finally came before a Judge on 29 November 2006. The Judge found that the Council has a very wide discretion in dealing with its property - it was entitled to depart from its policies aimed to protect historic buildings and need not consider an alternative scheme for the site to incorporate them, or even asses their viability for re-use, particularly where there was an approved redevelopment scheme in existance. The way was clear for the demolitions and these began in February 2007 - the links below tell the story.

The destruction of Dalston Theatre has begun

Hackney destroys its local listed buildings

Municipal vandals have destroyed our children's heritage

How it was - despite the years of deliberate neglect by Hackney Council, the buildings had survived: the pair of 1820's Georgian houses, the original 1886 circus entrance, the 1898 Theatre Entrance in front of it (aka The Four Aces Club) and the Dalston Theatre behind.

"There is absolutely no doubt, based on my experience, that (these buildings)can be satisfactorily brought back to a situation where they can be reused. My experience suggests that repair will not be excessively expensive."
Brian A Morton MBE C.Eng MICE Dip Conservation(AA) IHBC Structural Engineer to Canterbury and Bury St Edmunds Cathedrals and the Spitalfields Trust

How it could have been - restored as part of a new housing and railway station development.

"[These buildings] represent the heart and soul of Dalston. We believe they represent both the past and the future of Dalston’s prosperity. We want to see them restored so that we can show our grandchildren how Dalston used to be and so they can share our pride in our heritage and identity."
Ridley Road Market Traders Association

How it is today - destroyed by Hackney Council with the approval and agreement of Transport for London, the London Development Agency, the Greater London Authority and the Secretary of State.

The Vandals: an eastern Germanic tribe which earned notoriety by it sacking Rome in the 5th century but which was defeated by the Goths.

Vandalism: the gratuitous anti-social destruction of the environment and artistic creations.

Municipal vandalism: the destruction of our cultural heritage by corporate ignorance, deliberate neglect, vanity and greed all in the name of progress

Saturday 15 September 2007

Spot the difference in Dalston Lane

This is 60-66 Dalston Lane as it looked when the Council declared the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area in January 2005. OPEN has previously written here about the history of this terrace. Guy Nicholson, Hackney Council's Cabinet member for regeneration, said at the time "We're keen conservation areas are used to bring buildings back into use and create improvements to the built environment".

Conservation of historic buildings maintains the character and contributes to the economic regeneration of an area. Here is a before and after example of some recently refurbished houses in Mile End of a similar period and style.

But in nearly three years since the conservation area was declared the Council did nothing to conserve the Dalston Lane houses. They continued to deteriorate - four were fire bombed, further structural damage was inflicted on another, some businesses gave up and left whilst others were evicted on the grounds that the new owner intended to undertake major works. No repair or refurbishment took place. It seemed that no one wanted these houses and businesses to survive.

The Council had acquired 16 of the houses in the terrace when the GLC was abolished in 1982. Only five were left occupied twenty years later when the Council sold them, and many other houses including those in Broadway Market, at auctions in 2001 and 2002. Following a public outcry and an inquiry into these sales the Council resolved, in March 2006, to urgently consider what could be done to preserve the Dalston Lane houses.

However still no action was taken. Our local economy and environment were being destroyed. A petition was started and in December 2006 OPEN members, including local residents and businesses, made a deputation to the Council's Cabinet when assurances were given that a refurbishment scheme would be underway by April 2007. Still nothing appeared to happen until July when, it is said, the Council served legal notices on the owners seeking their undertaking to protect the structures. In August the Council erected hoardings around 60-64 Dalston Lane.

60-66 Dalston Lane as it looked in August 2007

On 10 September 2007 the Council's newspaper, Hackney Today, announced that a conservation project to preserve and enhance the terrace had begun. This time Councillor Guy Nicholson said "The Council is committed to enhancing Hackney's built heritage and using Conservation policy to bring this about". Urgent works are said to be already underway. Compare the pictures above and below to see what has been achieved to date. It will take more than Council policies and a lick of paint to answer public concerns.

60-66 Dalston Lane as it looked in September 2007

The (hi)story of 48-76 Dalston Lane, London E8

1820s - late Georgian houses built all along Dalston Lane with front and rear gardens

1865 - railway arrives and Dalston Junction station built

1886 - North London Hippodrome (Dalston Theatre) built at 12 Dalston Lane

1890s- Victorian shop fronts added to Dalston Lane houses

April 1982 - various Georgian houses in this terrace transferred to Hackney Council when the Greater London Council was abolished. At that time most of the properties were occupied by business tenants - restaurants, a tailor, a florist,a bakery,a post office, a locksmith, a grocery store, music and record shops and others. These two pairs of Georgian houses at 16-22 Dalston Lane remain occupied today.

1990 - by this time all but two of the business leases had expired and were not renewed by the Council. Houses which became vacant were not re-let and were boarded up or squatted. The tenants who remained after their leases expired held over without full security of tenure - easy prey for any developer acquiring the freehold.

1995 - a planning application to demolish the Georgian houses at 22-44 Dalston Lane and redevelop with a neo-georgian facade was approved. An amendment to the design was approved under officers delegated powers. This Peabody development was built.

November 2001 - the Council was £70m in debt and proposed to sell the houses as one lot by formal tender. Its agents, Nelson Bakewell, issued an information pack which stated “The buildings are of some architectural merit... however the Council may consider the partial or total redevelopment of the terrace." 11 houses were by this time vacant, 5 were occupied. Many had become uninhabitable by long term lack of maintenance and neglect. The sale did not proceed.

April 2002 - The houses were advertised to be sold individually at auction. Some tenants put forward written offers in excess of the auction guide price but were told by Council officers to bid at the auction. But at auction the houses were offered only as one lot and sold, over the heads of the tenants, for £1.8million to an off-shore company, Dalston Lane Investments Limited. The failure by the Council to first offer the properties for sale individually to its tenants was directly contrary to the Council’s policy and its Standing Orders at that time.

Spring 2003 - the new owners served notices terminating the tenancies on the ground of redevelopment and sought increases in rent, in some cases tenfold. Court proceedings for possession ensued.

November 2003 - the new owner hived off 60-66 Dalston Lane to a separate off-shore company.

April 2004 - the Council refused planning applications for permission to demolish and redevelop the houses because of the proposed sub-standard designs, the loss of heritage, the lack of family and affordable housing and the loss of the character of the street. The owners appealed to the Planning Inspectorate on grounds that affordable accommodation was not a policy requirement, that retaining the buildings was uneconomic and that the proposals offered a regenerative opportunity.

July 2004 - a major fire completely destroyed 74 Dalston Lane, the vacant building next to the Star Bakery which was facing possession proceedings. A temporary roof covering was provided but, during a period of high winds some weeks later, this roof blew off and landed in Dalston Lane, a major bus route.

August 2004 English Heritage’s adviser reported that the buildings “make a valuable contribution... inclusion within a Conservation Area could be an appropriate designation and recognition.”

September 2004 A squatter in 62 Dalston Lane was visited and warned that he should leave. A few days later he had to jump from the 1st floor into Dalston Lane when fire broke out. 62-64 Dalston Lane were burnt down. The police reported that they believed the fire resulted from an arson attack.

September 2004 - a Council officer commented that if the structures of 62-64 Dalston Lane were not secured in early course their survival would be put at risk. Nothing was done.

January 2005 - Hackney Council declared the houses part of the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area. The consultation report identified various heritage grant opportunities arising, but none of these were acted upon.

2006 - the vacant house at 76 Dalston Lane was burnt down.

2006 - The roof, and bricks from the flank walls, of 60 and 62 Dalston Lane were deliberately knocked out destabilising these houses further.

March 2006 - the Council resolves to begin work immediately to assess the use of its enforcement and compulsory purchase powers to regenerate the houses in Dalston Lane.

November 2006 - OPEN starts Save Our Shops petition

December 2006 - report to Council's Cabinet regarding regeneration of Dalston Lane.

January 2007 - Dalston Theatre and Georgian houses at 8-10 Dalston Lane demolished by Hackney Council to make way for tower blocks.

August 2007 - hoardings erected around 60-64 Dalston Lane.

An example of a restored Georgian house is just across the road.

Tuesday 17 July 2007

Save the Old Souls - will Hanover re-think its plans

To treat tenants like commodities, to be turned out of their homes so that their landlord can capitalise on the site's development potential, is bad enough. But what if the tenants are elderly and in sheltered accommadation, and the land was until recently in community ownership and the landlord is a charitable housing association? This is the situation facing the elderly tenants in sheltered accommodation at Bayton Court on the west side of London Fields, E8.

Bayton Court

Bayton Court is one of 29 sheltered housing schemes which were transferred by Hackney Council to a "formed for purpose" charitable housing association, Hanover in Hackney, in October 2002. At that time it was made clear to tenants that the Council had no money to improve the run-down properties but it was promised that, if the tenants voted to transfer to Hanover, £41 million would be invested and every flat would be refurbished within 5 years and that tenant’s resident wardens and the services provided to them would remain the same. Unsurprisingly a majority of tenants voted in favour.

Beaumont Lodge

In 2003, shortly after the transfer, Hanover undertook a review of its former Council assets and began working on realising opportunities to raise capital by the development and sale of some of its 29 properties. It commissioned architects and in January 2007 made 12 planning applications to the Council which variously involved demolition and redevelopment for private sales as well as alterations to those properties to be retained and refurbished.

Parton Lodge

The specific planning application for Bayton Court is to demolish the 2-storey building of 26x1 bedroom homes and to redevelop the site to provide 16x4-bedroom houses and 2x4-bedroomed maisonettes of up to 4 and 5 storeys for private sale. Quite apart from the need to evict & rehouse the elderly residents, the redevelopment will impact on the residents of neighbouring Blackstone Estate who lodged strong objections with the Council regarding loss of light, increased density and noise, living next to a potential car park, overlooking etc. In addition it will create significant changes to the setting and streetscape of London Fields. Although the redevelopment proposal for Bayton Court does not satisfy the Council’s planning policies Hanover asked that it should be considered “holistically” in the context of the 11 other planning applications made simultaneously. However, taking all planning applications together, they do not satisfy the policies either.

Bayton Court redevelopment - architect's impresion

These plans are however not the sum cause of the elderly tenants anxieties. In March 2006 Hanover advised its tenants that, due to Hackney Council's requirements and government changes to the financing of its “Supporting People” programme (“it is important that efficiency savings are optimised and secured as early as possible” - Government independent review by RSM Robson Rhodes LLP Oct 2003) , it was considering replacing the resident wardens in the sheltered housing with “floating support” workers who would visit only occasionally. But, despite Hanover's "floating support" pilot project and its consultation with tenants remaining incomplete, none of Hanover’s 12 planning applications for redevelopment show existing resident warden’s flats and offices as retained. Hanover has recently announced that this new scheme is likely to be introduced in November 2007.

Keswick Lodge

Unlike the tenant's ballot of 2002, which determined whether the property transfer away from Hackney Council would proceed, Hanover's demolition and redevelopment plans, and the loss of the sheltered housing officers, will not be the subject of a tenants’ ballot. There will be “consultation” with tenants but Hanover will have the final say.

OPEN, in association with the London Fields User Group, organised a meeting at St Michaels and All Angels Church Hall 7th June 2007 which was well attended by local tenants, residents and community representatives. An outline of the schemes was presented by two of Hanover’s representatives, and its architect, and these were met with searching questions and strong criticisms on planning and moral grounds. We learned how £142,000 had recently been spent refurbishing the buildings now intended for demoltion. Hanover stated that Bayton Court had been selected for redevelopment and private sale because it is the most valuable and attractive site which it owns. Apparently too valuable an opportunity to be wasted on sheltered accommodation for the elderly.

OPEN’s solicitors have requested that the Council and Hanover provide a copy of the legal agreement which they reached in 2002 which was said to guarantee that the promises made to elderly tenants at the time of the transfer ballot would be kept. Despite reminders, neither have provided a copy of the agreement.

OPEN has recently been informed by the Council that all Hanover’s planning applications have now been withdrawn. It is expected that revised plans will be re-submitted in due course.

Con” - noun: a complicated confidence trick planned and executed with great care; - verb: to deprive of by deceit; - colloquial: abbreviation of consultation