On Friday 3rd October the High Court will hear OPEN's challenge to Hackney's decision to allow demolition of the Georgian houses in Dalston Lane. The Council's Planning Committee granted permission to demolish all the surviving houses on 3rd March (Read "One Man Two Votes" Ed
.)after hearing the advice of Hackney's development partner Murphy that, due to long standing neglect, the houses are now beyond repair. The Council had rejected the opinions of independent experts, including those of structural engineers which the Council has itself commissioned ( Read "Was there a cover up
The public are entitled to attend the Court hearing. Details of the time and place will be announced on twitter @savedalstonlane and @opendalston on Thursday afternoon
OPEN is extremely grateful to everyone who has donated money to the fight against the municipal vandalism of these historic public assets. Despite its proclaimed policy to conserve these houses the Council has for years stood idly by and watched them deteriorate - what the Georgian Group has described as a "longstanding policy of studied neglect".
Even now, Hackney still claims that demolition is implementing a "genuine conservation scheme
", although nothing will be conserved. £0000s have been raised to meet the legal costs, and more will be required if on Friday the Court accepts that OPEN has an arguable case.
The houses were built between 1807 and 1830. Hackney first acquired them in 1984 and has since lost fortunes in rent and dereliction by failing to let and maintain them despite its 2006 commitment to conservation and re-use (Read "It's costing us £millions" Ed.) . It even tried to demolish them without planning permission ( Read "Hackney suspends demolitions" Ed.)
OPEN is also grateful to the hundreds of individuals, and organisations, who lodged objections to the demolition plans. The objectors included three local Conservation Area Advisory Committees, the Hackney Society, The Georgian Group, The Victorian Society, The Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings, SAVE Britain's Heritage, the East End Preservation Society and Spitalfields Trust as well as hundreds of local residents and businesses.
The cavalry are coming! The Spitalfields Trust are the foremost restoration trust nationally but their proposals have so far been ignored by Hackney despite their obvious public benefit compared to Murphy's scheme (read "Hackney rejects Trust's proposals"Ed.).
OPEN had hoped that Hackney would be willing to discuss an alternative scheme by the Spitalfields Trust to restore the houses, and provide 24 affordable homes for local people (Murphy's scheme has no affordable homes at all). Hackney has so far refused to meet to discuss those proposals and a letter from OPEN to Hackney's Mayor Pipe, suggesting a 'round table' meeting, has gone unanswered. This has left OPEN with no option than to fight in Court.