From: Peter January 27, 2014
The battle for Wilmer Place
Like many local people, I was incensed from the outset about the proposals to develop a huge building right next to Abney Park, towering over the main gates on Stoke Newington High Street and intruding into the privacy and solitude of the cemetery. Greed of the worst kind, in complete disregard and clear intention to exploit this important green space, now a nature reserve and one of the seven large important cemeteries in London.
For me it has many negative dimensions to it. It’s not just about not needing another supermarket when we already have so many in the surrounding area, it’s so many other things too:
The negative impact on the ecology that hasn’t properly been looked into by the council about developing within metres of the boundary with Abney.
The gross loss of privacy for users of the cemetery.
The ineptitude of the planning department and the weakness of the council itself to stand up for local people’s wishes against a professional developer.
A weak planning department seemingly too inept to negotiate with a large developer and insist on a more reasonable scale, having refused permission previously for a much more modest scheme.
The low percentage of only 17% affordable housing so there is a net reduction to what is already there on the site.
The loss of local small businesses on the site, some of which have already had to move out.
The complete absence of any parking and the poor access for the numerous lorries that will use Wilmer Place and destroy the peace of residents there, whilst also clogging up Church Street and Stoke Newington High Street.
The inevitable parking problems that will be created by shoppers illegally parking on the High Street and surrounding areas to dash in for a few items.
The lack of affordable homes with only 2 social housing flats and 7 ‘affordable’ flats at 80% of market value, which in the current market is still completely unaffordable for most people.
I struggle to see a positive aspect to the scheme, even the promise of part time and low paid work in the supermarket seems a negative when the loss of jobs from other businesses on the site and in the surrounding area will probably outweigh it, and destroy local independent businesses at the same time. New housing, well does Stoke Newington need luxury flats or does it need affordable homes? I’d even accept the luxury flats in a small scale building pulled back from the boundary and gates, if there was more affordable housing.
The campaign was set up by local residents from across the area and has raised over £27,000 already from thousands of local people who feel similarly incensed that a development of his size be allowed next to a nature reserve, cemetery and much loved green space. The campaign is also working with the Abney Park Trust who manage the cemetery and their User Group, with support from a local barrister who has given his time for free, and solicitor’s working at a reduced rate.
Whether the campaign ultimately wins the fight or not, and I hope it will of course, it will at least it will have cost the developer time and money. I will also get satisfaction from having stood up and been counted, and it has put off building by 18 months to date. If the appeal does succeed at court, and there seems a reasonable chance of success, I hope that will make Sainsbury’s reconsider their plans given the changing and worsening climate for them and other large supermarkets. Sainsbury’s have already announced that they will not be opening 40 planned stores, hopefully this will prove to be one of them. Sainsbury’s is also not in the strong position it once was, as along with others, it is being undercut by the likes of Asda and Lidl, having charged premium prices for convenience for so long.
And do I use the Sainsbury’s? NO, absolutely not!! Sainsbury’s has already lost my custom until they withdraw from the site. That is a personal choice, but I wouldn’t give them another penny now, and would urge others to think about that themselves.
From: Peter September 16, 2014
For years I had been staring at a half dead olive tree that was just hanging on after a woodpecker had a go at it, and three barely surviving bay trees. Planters I’d bought with good intentions were full of a mixture of rainwater and weeds.
Last year I decided that enough was enough and I wanted to do something. I wanted to have a space I could enjoy and I was working far too hard, so needed to have a balance and claim time some back. As part of that claiming back, over a period of months last summer, I got compost and plants and started along one side and then developed each side creating a two and three layers of plants using a mixture of old window boxes and and planters I already had and a few more I bought as the scheme developed.
I got the planters from a mixture of places, Columbia Road, particularly Red Mud Hut http://www.theredmudhut.co.uk and B&Q, and plants from mail order, Columbia Rd and Crews Hill the other side of Enfield, which has a dozen and half garden centres, my favourite one covering over 30 acres with good quality keenly priced plants http://www.thegardeningclub.co.uk (great by car but you can go to Crews Hill by train…..just take a few bags to carry plants back!).
I also included a bird feeding area in one corner and even found a fountain for another corner, which the birds absolutely adore. I experimented and then tried different things until it seemed to work. Attracting such a variety of birds I put down to sunflower hearts, niger seeds and freeze dried meal worms. Not only do I have daily visits now from robins, blue tits, coal tits, and even goldfinches, but also occasional visits from a greater spotted woodpecker and a female sparrow hawk. I’m discouraging the woodpecker and hawk, by shooing away when I see them. Especially the woodpecker, I want to keep my olive tree!
Would I do it again? Definitely! Does it add to the richness of my life? Yes, absolutely. I’ve spent years in an office and this gives me an extra dimension to life. Am I an expert? Absolutely not, I just try things and experiment, some things work, some don’t, but I’ve been surprised at what I’ve achieved in just a year.
We are lucky to live in a very green part of London, and creating green corridors that attracts a wide variety of wildlife means that we can enjoy that daily. Far more interesting than paving, concrete or dead space.
From: Oxibruce March 5, 2014
What really angers me is when property developers take over a building and try at all costs to maximise profit. 79 Osbaldeston Road was a run-down house but in a prime position. Despite objections based on Hackney’s guidelines about maintaining large family homes, permission was granted to convert it to flats and to build a rear extension.
That wasn’t enough for its owner Motty Wosner. He sought permission to demolish the whole building. His application is pretty blunt: This application seeks to change the existing consent by allowing demolition as it will be easier to carry out the work permitted by consent 2012 – 3747 if the building can be demolished and rebuilt.
So we must lose a building – and have a modern reproduction built – to ‘make it easier’ for the property developer. Permission was refused but that did not stop the demolition of most of the building. All that was left standing was the front wall and half of the side.
Motty Wosner is now threatened with prosecution. His agents, the architects John Stebbing and his son Tom Stebbing, made a false declaration – twice – concerning trees that would be affected by the permitted building. No action is being taken over this – though Hackney’s Legal Department says that a false declaration on a Planning Application is a criminal offence.
Why should property ‘developers’ get away with creating ‘facts on the ground’ regardless of local and Council opposition?