Saturday 7 November 2009

Authorities abandon affordable housing policies.

On 4th November Hackney Council agreed to give up an £11million payment intended for affordable housing in Dalston, when it granted planning permission for Hammerson's 52-storey Bishops Place tower block development in Shoreditch.

The Bishops Place tombstone development designed by Foster and Partners. The City of London Corporation, which has several joint venture agreements with Hammerson on sites in Shoreditch, welcomed the scheme

In the face of community opposition Hackney had deferred the planning application in July 2008 and asked Hammerson to spare The Light at 233 Shoreditch High Street which was to be demolished. At that time Hammerson said there was room for only 50 affordable flats in its £400 million, 1.5 million sq ft., scheme. It offered to contribute £14 million to "off-site" affordable housing. The contribution was intended for TfL's Dalston Junction development, which has already received massive public subsidy, but where there is presently no affordable housing planned at all.

The Slab, a £40million concrete raft over the railway cutting, intended to provide a bus station and private flats in 8 blocks of up to 20 storeys at Dalston Junction.

Hackney's, and the Mayor of London's, policy is that in larger schemes developers should seek to provide 50% affordable housing of which 70% should be for social rental and 30% for shared-ownership. Hammerson's mixed-use scheme includes 290 flats and serviced hotel apartments but there are to be only 11 flats (4%) for social rental.

The Worship of Mammon, 1909 by Evelyn de Morgan, updated 2009 by

Hackney accepted that the international property developer, Hammerson, had been hit by the credit feeze , which meant that it could now only afford a £3million, and not a £14million, contribution to off-site affordable housing. But Hackney also extended the time to start the development to 5 years when it hopes that market conditions will have improved.
The Bishops Place scheme, which still involves partial demolition of The Light, has been condemned by the Government's advisory commission, CABE, which objected to the "fundamentally flawed" design and the "canyon effect" of the blocks. But the rushed consultation process meant that CABE's objections were not made available for Planning Committee members to read.
English Heritage advised that the "overbearing" development would have "a harmful impact on surrounding conservation areas and listed buildings". But English Heritage's letter was not on the planning file either.
The Council did not even consult it's own Design Review Panel which has objected strongly to the previous designs.

Hackney Council owns most of the Bishops Place site and will make £millions, under an option deal with the developer Hammerson, now the scheme has been granted planning permission. But the sale proceeds wont be spent on affordable housing or other community benefits in either Shoreditch or Dalston because they are earmarked to pay for Hackney's new annex to its Town Hall which, its Mayor hopes, will give Hackney citizens "a sense of civic pride".
The Bishops Place scheme will now be reviewed by the Mayor of London's office. Hammerson has promised Mayor Boris £3.1 million to help pay for Crossrail and Hackney report that his office has already approved the affordable housing arrangements.


  1. Mrs Trellis, North WalesMonday, 09 November, 2009

    According to my Brown Paper Envelope Ready Reckoner £14 million minus £3 million equals £11 million (should cover the cost of a nice pad in Competa, eh?). Interpol is making a real stink that this bloke has just run off with 11 million. Who reckons Pipe will do a runner too?

  2. Hammerson must be laughing their heads off and all the way to the bank. Hackney Council are spineless

  3. I can't believe what they are doing it takes the ultimate mick. I mean saying agreeing on one estimate for affordable housing then going ack on your word. That is why everything needs to be in writing.
    Mr Olivier

  4. Hammerson haven't got the cash or pre-lets to build this monster presently - so Hackney extended the time to pay the money for "off-site" affordable housing from 3 to 5 years. What a bargain! And Hammerson, poor thing, even got the chance to vet the report before it went to Hackney's Planning Committee.

  5. " the chance to vet the report before it went to Hackney's Planning Committee." Hey - how cool is that! Who are their PR people? I want their number.

  6. Hackney Labour can't even get a s106 no-brainer right?

    God Almightly they are hopeless.

    Hammerson ARE laughing all the way to the bank.


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