Friday, 4 April 2014

Hackney has refused to reconsider demolition of its Georgian houses in Dalston Terrace

Hackney has refused to review its decision to allow demolition of all its Georgian houses in Dalston Terrace. Hackney was forced to suspend unlawful demolitions last January and OPEN is again now seeking specialist legal advice about this latest development. Hackney has commented to OPEN's solicitor that demolition will not start before 15 April.

                                      (c) Hackney Archives photo

Early 20th century photo of Dalston Terrace. Seventeen are owned by Hackney but, after a troubled recent history, these fragile survivors of our local heritage are now in a very dilapidated condition

On 5th March the Chair of Hackney's Planning Committee, in the face of a divided Committee, used his casting vote to grant permission for total demolition of the 200 year old houses ( Read "One man, two votes" here. Ed.) . Hackney has refused OPEN's formal request to review that decision, and to refer the scheme back to its Cabinet. In  2011 the Cabinet, with Dalston's Ward Councillor Sophie Linden in the Chair, had authorised Council officers to procure a "conservation led " scheme. In 2012 the Cabinet had also recommended that the Full Council adopt the Dalston Area Action Plan which prescribes a conservation led scheme for Dalston Terrace.

Hackney has had a conservation policy for the houses since 2007 - although you wouldn't think so watching this video. Hackney now argues that, although everything will be demolished, it will still be a 'conservation led' scheme although nothing will be preserved ( Not even Hackney's reputation claiming to be "champions of the historic environment" Ed.) 

Hackney had advertised the development opportunity, in the European OJEU journal, as "restoration of buildings of townscape merit  designated in the Dalston (West) Conservation Area". It later awarded the contract to Murphy, for £2,380,000. The tender competition weighting was Price 55/ Quality 45.(Does that mean Price trumped Quality? Ed.).  Murphy's engineers and architects, who appear to have no conservation accreditation, now consider that the buildings are beyond redemption and must all be demolished - although Muphy had entered the contract in June 2013 knowing full well of the problems with Hackney's designs..

                                       (c) Mooneyphoto

Hackney's designs require the ground floor interiors of the 1807 houses to be ripped out to create "open plan" shops - which independant engineers Alan Baxter Associates have advised would cause the buildings to collapse. Hackney thinks there's no place in Dalston  Terrace for traditional shops, like in Broadway Market and  Covent Garden, although it was recently advised that creating a "village feel" would be the most viable option for the houses. Shopkeepers have been trading in Dalston Terrace, without 'open plan', for more than 100 years.

When selecting Murphy as its development partner, Hackney's requirements included ".....a proven track record in projects involving the regeneration of Georgian/Victorain buildings"....."demonstrate previous experience of the restoration of period shopfronts and rebuilding/partial rebuilding of late Georgian and Victorian properties".  Murphy's moto is "Breathing life into infrastructure projects" -but sadly not, it would seem, breathing life into Georgian houses.

                                (c) Mike Wells
Murphy's have expertise in pipework and undertook excavations on the London 2012 Olympic site to bury cables from electricity pylons.  Here is one of their trucks  transporting spoil from the former West Ham landfill on the 2012 Olympic site (Shouldn't the spoil be covered? Ed.) The site was discovered to be severely contaminated with radioactive and other toxic waste.  
NUKEM's Radiation and Contamination Report, dated 11.3.08, records a survey of Murphy's Yard "to find contaminated area of soil levelled by Murphy's last week to extend yard" on London's 2012 Olympic site. The survey identified radioactive material emitting gamma radiation of up to 6,000 counts per second - 20 times the level deemed safe to leave on site. It is not known if Murphy and their workforce were aware of these hazards.

                                (c) Mooneyphoto

Murphy began demolition of the backs of Dalston Terrace's Georgian houses in January 2014, with Hackney's authority, but without first satisfying planning conditions and without planning permission. They withdrew after community complaints. ( Read "Was there a cover up" Ed.)

Hackney has refused to reconsider its decisions to permit total demolition and so, it now seems, only a Court Order could stop the demolitions. OPEN has launched an appeal for contributions to its fighting fund. £000's have already been donated, but £0000s are urgently needed if municipal vandalism is to be defeated.

Please urgently make bank transfers to:
OPEN Dalston

Barclays Bank
Sort code: 20-46-57
Account 33274659

Donations of £250 or greater will be refunded in the case of an excess of funds; but it is the many donations of £10 that will make all the difference.

The Vandals: an eastern Germanic tribe which earned notoriety by sacking Rome in the 5th century, but which was later 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, greed and vanity, all in the name of regeneration and progress

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