Sunday 25 October 2020

Colvestone Primary School's nightmare is back as developers return

A new planning application has been made for re-development of a Ridley Road site which will dominate and overshadoColvestone Primary School nursery outdoor play/learning space and blight the Grade II Listed school and its setting

Dalston's "Save Our Sunlight" campaigners celebrate defeating the previous planning application 

The site has had a controversial history. After a long battle through the Planning Court in 2016 the Dalston community, lead by local campaigner Judith Watt, finally defeated an earlier development scheme which would also have blighted Colvestone Primary School. The developer/architects had presented a misleading overshadowing report to the Council's Planning Committee and Hackney spent about £100K (of our money Ed.) trying to defend its grant of planning permission.  But, although that scheme was buried, some development potential of the site remained. A new planning application for redevelopment has now reared its ugly head.

The vacant site bordering the school was auctioned in 2018, by its owner Zoe Chan, with a guide price of £180K. Hackney Council instructed its officers to attend and bid subject to a budget cap of £200K. Nice Properties Ltd., owned by Ann and Shu Tang, made a bid of £200K, which the Council had no authority to exceed, and so they acquired the site.The new owners now want to redevelop it.

This image shows the Nursery Schools outdoor play/learning space and the vacant triangular site adjoining to the south. The image below shows the proposed rear wall of the planned new development which will overbear and overshadow the Nursery's open space

The image below shows the scale of the previous scheme. The impact on the Nursery of the new scheme's 9 metre high rear will not be very different. 

The developer's application does not record any concern expressed by Hackney's planners regarding the scale of the new development and the developers argue that because the Council planners recommended approval of the previous building then it should do so again now

The developer's architects say that, to meet child safeguarding concerns ( overlooking) the rear wall of the second floor terrace facing the school will be built using perforate roof tiles "eliminating any possibilities of [occupants] overlooking to the playground, at the same time allow more sunlight to reach the playground of the school. ."  

How sunlight can pass through the tiles and reach the playground level, which they say can not be seen by residents looking through those same tiles, remains a mystery. A
n independent sunlight expert has questioned the accuracy of the model from which the developer's overshadowing predictions are derived.  Hackney must require the developer to disclose its modelling for independent analysis.

This image is of the overshadowing caused by the previous scheme. The new schemes impact will not be much different. The developer has failed to any provide 'shadow plots' which illustrate the extent of overshadowing year round.

The developer states that the "British Research Establishment ( BRE) have an objective overshadowing test... that at least 50% of open space should receive at least 2 hours of direct sunlight on 21 March" and that  "The proposed design meets the recommendations set out in the BRE Guide",  In fact, the BRE Guide is a guide for quantifying the direct sunlight on open space, not a test of its adequacy  -  what may be fine for a car park is obviously inadequate for a toddler's outdoor play/learning space.

The new building's appearance when  viewed from the south west

The developer says its building will create a new "gateway" to the Conservation Area (We already have a fine gateway - our single-storey Grade II listed Colvestone School. Ed.) and that it could "become over time a local modest landmark". ( Indeed future generations of children will point it out as the blight on their early years. Ed

The new building's appearance when viewed from the west

Whether you like the planned building's appearance or not, a further question concerns its impact on the historic built environment. The new building will partially obstruct the view of the Grade II Listed Colvestone Primary School when seen from the west and from the main entrance to Ridley Road - which is identified as an important view of the buildings within the St Marks Conservation Area of which the school is its western gateway and its earliest surviving building. 

Then there is the issue of the construction noise and disruption to adjacent school children, market traders and local businesses, and to the Council's plans for the future improvement of the market - including creating seating, greenery and better circulation. The development could take up to12 months and the site has no turning circle and very limited vehicular access for which construction lorries will be competing with market traders and local residents.

You can search for and find  the planning application documents on the Council's web site  under reference  2020/3496 and make comments on line. You can also comment on the application by email to putting 2020/3496 in the subject line.

You may find it helpful to read other peoples objections here. (Unlike many other Councils, Hackney does not yet publish any of the planning objections which it receives. Ed.)




  1. I was involved in the previous campaign when my daughter was still at the school. I thought it was eventually found that to build on that site was illegal, due to terms laid down for the land around the school? (terms set by the council? Or the education authority? Sorry I can't be more specific)

  2. Thank you for your previous support Loz. You're right that when Hackney sold the land in 2001 it secured a covenant on the title of the land sold which sought to retain the right of "uninterrupted and unheeded access of light and air" over the land sold to the school land which Hackney retained to the school. Hackney said it obtained legal advice which concluded that the covenant did not protect against loss of light caused by the development. That Advice was never publiclly disclosed by Hackney.

  3. Hmm, sounds like dubious Advice then!

  4. One more sign of corruption and disregard towards neighbours in Hackney Council.


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