The 2012 Wilmer Place planning application: an update

The consultation period on the current application for a 1,486 sq m (16,000 sq ft) Sainsbury's superstore and 68 unit housing development at Wilmer Place N16, overlooking Abney Park Cemetry closed at the end of September. Since then, the Council's planning officers have been considering the 300 or so objections thay have received, have been consulting with other departments on various technical points, and discussing their initial concerns with the devlopers.

In short, we are unlikely to see an outcome or be involved in further hearings or consultations until the new year.

The major areas of conern for the planning officers have been around the ecological effect of the development on Abney Park Cemetery and its height and proximity in relation to the cemetery.

Developers are given an opportunity to make alterations or further submissions to alleviate any concerns. In this case they have commissioned a nocturnal bat survey, a 'phase 1' ecological survey of the cemetery and a further lighting study. Council officers are yet to fully consider these submissions.

The issue of height and proximity is likely to be a major stumbling block and we can only speculate on how this might be resolved.

This current application might be considered by the Planning Inspector (a national body, headquartered in Bristol) either as an appeal to the Council refusing this application or on the basis that the Council have failed to determine it within eight weeks. In either scenario there would be no submission before Hackney's Planning Sub-committee, but instead there would be a hearing or (more likely) inquiry held by the Planning Inspector here in Hackney at some point in the first half of 2012. This is a process which typically takes between 22 and 30 weeks.

Alternatively the developers may revise the scheme to the satisfaction of the planners. Realistically this would be a major revision and will require further consultation. Such revisions will need to be drawn up and the viability re-considered. It's unlikely a revised scheme will be submitted before the new year (though not impossible). Once submitted, the further documents and revised drawings will be published by the Council and a new 21-day consultation period will begin. If after considering the revisions and the consultation, the Council officers are minded to approve the revised scheme, they will take it to the Council's Planning Sub-Committee where it will be decided. If they are still unconvinced, then we will be back at this point.

As ever we will keep you updated with developments as we find out about them.

Joint Statement by local groups opposing a new supermarket development in the heart of Stoke Newington

Friday 21 September

There are three days remaining for members of the public and interested groups to submit their comments to Hackney Council on a proposed large supermarket and housing development at Wilmer Place in the heart of Stoke Newington.

As the Council's revised deadine nears, ten local amenity and campaign groups have issued a joint statement collectively supporting the considered objections to the scheme made by a five local groups and experts.

The statement reads:

Having considered the objections to the proposed development at Wilmer Place from the following local amenity groups and experts:
the groups below collectively support the aforementioned objections:
Stokey Local –
Sustainable Hackney –
Russell Miller Arboriculture
Tree Musketeers –
London Parks & Gardens Trust –
Clapton Conservation Areas Advisory Committee –
Hackney Planning Watch –
Hackney Unites –
Growing Communities –
Cazenove Area Action Group –
Friday 21 September 2012

Background to the statement:

The scheme by Newpark Properties proposes to insert a large Sainsburys supermarket with 68 new homes above it, on land that sits hard by Abney Park Cemetery nature reserve. It has been roundly criticised and faces near-universal opposition from local residents and businesses.
Amongst their objections, the groups cite
  • damage to the sensitive woodland ecology of the Abney Park nature reserve;
  • loss of privacy and seclusion in one of the "Magnificent Seven" Cemeteries in London;
  • damage to the local economy including many small businesses on site and the much lauded array of small local retail shops;
  • lack of "need" given the the number of supermarkets nearby, including a larger Morrisons just 300m away;
  • poor provision of affordable housing;
Following the delayed posting of planning notices on-site, members of the public and interested parties have until the end of the day, Monday 24 September to sumbit comments on the application to the Council.
Stokey Local have published information on how to do this, along with the detailed objections of the groups mentioned in the statement, on their website:


Responses of other amenity groups

We submitted Stokey Local's formal response to the current application (2012/2228) on Friday 14 Sepetember. You can read our full response here.

We have also received copies of the formal objections of other local amenity groups with specialist expertise or interest in the development. and some of those are collected here. By all means refer to themm when making your own observations which should be made as soon as possible this week and no later than this coming Monday 24 September. Find out how, here.


Stoke Newington Conservation Areas Advisory Committee

This site lies in the centre of the Stoke Newington conservation area and is bounded by Conservation Area on all sides. The Conservation Area is of two characters, on one side a late Georgian/early Victorian townscape – on the other Abney Park Cemetery, an unique open space and public resource of great value to and much appreciated by local residents in the borough as a whole. Both, but especially the Cemetery are important resources for the Borough and their protection is of the first importance.

Our starting point is that planning decisions must be taken in accordance with and based upon the approved Core Strategy. With regard to the Conservation Areas the relevant Core Strategy policy is 25 which states

"All development should make a positive contribution to the character of Hackney's historic and built environment. This includes identifying, conserving and enhancing the historic significance of the borough's designated heritage assets, their setting and where appropriate the wider historic environment."

The Stoke Newington Conservation Area Appraisal (the CAA) describes the character of the conservation area and its important elements, and the matters to be taken into consideration when deciding whether a development enhances the area. Policy 25 and the Appraisal together constitute the heart of the Council's planning policy in this regard.

The planning committee must follow the CAA guidance and the SNCAAC must base its advice on the principles laid out in the Conservation Area appraisals. 

In our opinion this proposed development does not enhance the Conservation Area but is detrimental in several ways.

1. The effect on the character and environment of Abney Park Cemetery

The Cemetery is surrounded by a brick wall which allows views into the back gardens of adjoining property, most of which dates to the 19th century. Historically, this has created a very intimate, quiet setting around the perimeters of the cemetery, and the back gardens continue the rural quality of the cemetery beyond its immediate confines. Some new development has recently been constructed to the north of the cemetery, off Manor Road, filling-in a gap which was previously occupied by low key uses. This has brought new buildings, and the resultant activities associated with such uses, much closer to the walls of the cemetery. In future, new development should be kept as far as possible away from the walls of the Cemetery, to preserve the setting of the Cemetery, and its unique sense of privacy and peace. [CAA 6.3]

The Council is keen to preserve the rural qualities of Abney Park Cemetery and the domestic scale of the residential streets which lead off Stoke Newington Church Street. Similarly, in the busy principal streets, views must be preserved by not allowing new development which is too dominant or obtrusive. This can only be provided by adhering to the guidelines in the previous paragraphs of Chapter 7 and by following the general principles set out below:


Abney Park Cemetery:

  • New development should not encroach on the setting of Abney Park Cemetery by careful attention to scale, bulk and siting
  • New development around Abney Park Cemetery should not generate noise or other disturbance to the Cemetery
  • New development close to Abney Park Cemetery must preserve the existing domestic character of the surrounding buildings
  • New development around Abney Park Cemetery must be carefully sited so as not to interrupt existing views and skylines


  • New development should respect the scale and density 

[CAA 7.11]

The most negative features of the Conservation Area are:

  • New development impinging on the setting of the Cemetery  [CAA 8.2]
  • Backland development such as The Point (new housing on the former Council Depot in Defoe Road) does not relate to existing housing in terms of scale, massing and height
  • Cemetery threatened by inappropriate development of the land around its boundaries  [CAA 8.4]

We are disappointed that the application documents do not appear to contain any sections of the proposed building from the north which would enable an immediate idea of the bulk and height of the building compared to the existing structure.

However, from the dimensions given we are able to form a clear understanding of the mass of the building. It consists of a seven storey core centre surrounded by a larger five storey block (15.8m high), the whole surrounded by a “podium” 6.35m high, itself closely surrounded by a two story boundary wall (4.65m). The 4.65m high boundary wall will abutt the Cemetery directly and the “podium” will cover the bulk of the site apart from a small triangle at the North West where it drops to 4.65m high.

The proposed building on the North Eastern corner is almost double the height of the current building, the new building will be 15.8m high set back  1 m –18m  from the Cemetery boundary. At this corner the existing building is approximately only 6m high, and the taller building (only 10m at the ridge) is set back 10 m from the boundary. Furthermore at the North Western corner the site is currently open space with open railings, in line with the conditions set out in the CAA.

The proposed development abutts the popular pathway between the two Cemetery entrances.  Currently walkers in the Cemetery are able in most places to see sky through the trees. This contributes to the particular secluded and “rural” atmosphere as stated in the appraisal. The development proposal of a 4.65 m wall on the boundary, closely backed by a seven storey building (22.3 m high) positioned so as to come within 2.5m – 3.5m of the Cemetery boundary line on the West boundary of the site will be massively intrusive.

We do not believe that the mock-up views of the building from the Cemetery in any way represent the effect that the development will have. In particular in winter with reduced foliage and light pollution.

The development should not immediately abutt the cemetery boundary. We believe that any building on this site should be set back at least 10 m and should be no more than four stories high – in other words, very much the size of the current collection of buildings.

There are in addition concerns that ecological damage to the Cemetery will occur. We have had sight of reports from the Abney Park Trust, Russell Miller Arboriculture and the Garden History Society. We support those submissions .

2.  Over-development, mass and height

The High Street entrance to Abney Park Cemetery, with its Egyptian buildings, is the most significant feature along this part of the High Street, and acts as a focal point in views along the street. [CAA 4.4]

New buildings should relate to their surroundings in terms of scale, height and massing. [CAA 7.1]

The height of new development in the Conservation Area should generally respect the height of buildings that forms its context.

  • A variety of heights may be acceptable in areas where there is no common building height, but the range of heights which might be acceptable will still be determined by the heights of neighbouring buildings.
  • The depth of any new development, and the impact of bulky new buildings on neighbouring properties, will also be very carefully considered by the Council.

[CAA 7.3]

New development should respect the scale, massing and height of the surrounding historic properties.

  • New development should follow the historic building line.
  • New development should follow the historic plot ratios in the area and should allow for the retention of some garden or amenity space to the rear of the building.
  • New buildings should reflect the existing details and materials of the historic buildings in the surrounding area.

[CAA 7.10]

New development should respect the scale and density of existing buildings

  • New development should not be over-dominant in views along the street
  • All new development should respect existing heights and should not interrupt existing skylines 

[CAA 7.11]

In addition to its direct affect on the Cemetery, more generally, we note that the proposed building is out of scale with the surrounding properties, the Victorian terrace on the High Street and the Cemetery gates. The effect can be clearly seen from the submitted views from Stamford Hill and Cazenove Road. But again, we do not believe that the submitted mock-ups sufficiently represent the visual effect that this very high building.

It is clear the new building will have a substantial detrimental affect on the visual environment both along the northern end of the High Street and from the Cemetery.

3. Shadow

We do not believe the account of shadowing set out in the application sufficiently represents the situation that will occur. We note that the shadowing effect of the boundary wall (4.65m) has not been included.

In particular we note that for half the year the shadow will extend right across the Cemetery gates and cover the area to the right of the gates (when entering the Cemetery) which is currently heavily used by adults and children for recreation, eating lunch, picnics etc.  and would be a substantial loss of public amenity.

4. Historical plot size

New buildings should preserve the plot widths and urban grain of the existing historic development.  [CAA 7.1]

This application represents a radical departure from the historical development of the site. As can be seen from the maps contained in the presentation, the major part of this site, especially the North Western corner abutting the Cemetery entrance , has been open space for the last 120 years.

Such a departure is contrary to the CAA guidelines

5.  Details of the proposed development along the High Street are inappropriate

The west side of Stoke Newington High Street contains an almost continuous terrace of good quality buildings which are listed, locally listed or have been identified as Buildings of Townscape Merit.

Apart from the listed and locally listed buildings, a large number of unlisted buildings in the Conservation Area have been identified as “Buildings of Townscape Merit”. These are usually well detailed examples of mainly late 19th century houses or commercial premises which retain their original detailing. As such, they make a positive contribution to the character and appearance of the Conservation Area, and any proposals to alter or demolish such buildings will be strongly resisted by the Council (see Policy EQ13 of the UDP of 1995). Together, these buildings provide the cohesive and interesting historic townscape which is necessary to justify designation as a Conservation Area.

[CAA 8.4]

The amalgamation of five units into one shopfront as illustrated in the application is an example of alteration which according to the CAA will be “strongly resisted by the Council”. We believe any alterations to these shopfronts should be in line with the Conservation Area shopfront design guide. We particularly refer to page 5 where the extension of a single facia across multiple buildings is counter-indicated.

6. The Effect of a large scale single retailer on the Conservation Area


  • Small businesses with low profit margins do not generate funds for repairing the buildings [CAA 8.4]

We would argue that any retail development of this size, is inappropriate for the conservation area.  A conservation area is more than buildings. The Stoke Newington Area is anchored on two shopping streets and streets of a particular or two particular but similar characters.

The character of the Conservation Area depends on the number and type of shops which typically are single fronted, independently owned convenience and speciality shops. A large supermarket would undoubtedly upset the current centre of gravity with the risk of urban blight.

The CAA identifies the poor profitability of the current shops as a major factor in the decay of the local buildings so any threat to that profitability must be taken seriously.

A Conservation Area is also, if it is to work, an expression of a local community. The very strong opposition to the proposed supermarket is therefore worrying.

We were concerned that these commercial considerations might not be appropriate for a heritage body like ourselves but we believe this approach is supported by a recent planning appeal regarding the conservation area at Newington Green,  (combined judgements APP/V5570/A/05/1193422 & 1193806). In it the Inspector observes that, a

 “failure to observe the scale of shops… would create a discordant feature in the street scene…which would be harmful to the character of the CA, with its more intimate, even domestic scale of shops”.

The Inspector is stating that the scale of the retail outlets are a legitimate defining characteristic of the (Newington Green) CA.


We believe that this application, if successful would be seriously and substantially detrimental to the Conservation Area and should be refused.

Our particular objections are:

  1. The impact on the atmosphere of and views from the Cemetery. This is called seclusion and ‘rural quality’ in the 2004 CAA.  The scheme is built right up to the boundary of the Cemetery and is 7 storeys high. We feel that the visual impact, light pollution and shadow cast are all substantial detriments.
  2. The view from High Street of the Cemetery gates and the Victorian terrace will be dominated by a 7 story building, unsympathetic in style and of inappropriate mass and height.
  3. The Conservation area was set up in 1983 in part to preserve the character of the High Street characterised by local independent shops and cafes. A single large retailer (supermarket) is likely to affect this character and raises the danger of urban blight.
  4. The proposed amalgamation of the five units on the High Street is inappropriate in the context of the existing terrace.
  5. The development entails the loss of historical open space in the North Western corner which has been there for a very substantial period and contributed to the open feel of the Cemetery.

Submitted 17 September 2012

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Russell Miller Arboriculture

In summary the proposed development should be rejected on the following grounds:-
  • failure to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment or any investigation into the consequences of the development for Abney Park Cemetery Nature Reserve;
  • failure to conduct adequate bat surveys. Bats are known to exist at Abney and the developer's ecological surveys reveal they may be present on the site itself. Despite recommendations to do so by their own ecologists the developers have failed to conduct a full nocturnal bat survey across all appropriate seasons;
  • failure to design in the retention of Abney's valuable veteran trees. The developer's tree survey fails to recognise the importance and value of Abney veteran black poplars. The developer originally sought to fell 12 trees inside Abney (including 8 old black poplars). Whilst the developer appears to no longer require the trees to be felled they nevertheless intend to build right up to them and thereby condemn them by default in breach of industry best practise guidelines.

The full objection is available on the Sustainable Hackney website.
Submitted 21 August 2012

Further objection

Further to those objections I have now had a little more time to consider the ecology of Wilmer Place and the very limited ecological surveys submitted with the planning application. I have not seen the Phase 1 habitat and ecology survey since this does not appear in the case file on the LBH website.

  • The planning application should be rejected because the proposed development pays no regard to the valuable ecology of the site, specifically the woodland edge to the Abney Park Nature Reserve/Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. If permitted the development will completely destroy this woodland edge and its associated flora and fauna. This includes protected species.
  • The development breaches LDF Core Strategy planning policy, the Hackney and London Biodiversity Action Plans and Hackney's statutory duty to protect biodiversity.

The detailed supplementary objections are available here 
Submitted 10 September 2012


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London Parks & Gardens Trust / Garden History Society

I write as Chairman of the Planning & Conservation Working Group of the London Parks & Gardens Trust.  I am also writing on behalf of the Garden History Society which, in view of the seriousness of the threat posed by the proposed development to one of the most significant of London's historic cemeteries, may also wish to contribute additional comments.

Abney Park Cemetery is included at grade II in the English Heritage Register of Parks & Gardens of Special Historic Interest and is described as London's most important non-conformist cemetery.  It is important on many levels – historical, aesthetic, architectural, horticultural, sociological and ecological – none of which is respected in the current planning application, which seeks to exploit the public amenity for private gain.

The density of development proposed is excessive, leading to over-high buildings constructed up to the edge of the cemetery, and would result in the overshadowing of the cemetery, the listed monuments, the trees and the cemetery gates, lodges and offices, and of the other listed and unlisted buildings in the conservation area.

All sense of privacy and sanctuary within the woodland would be lost, and the trees themselves would be threatened by overshadowing and pressure to lop and thin to allow views from the new flats.

The scheme is crass and insensitive to the special character of the cemetery and the conservation area and should be refused.  It requires a radical rethink to ensure that any development is of an appropriate scale and is kept well back from the boundary of the cemetery.

A roughly comparable scheme to build on the edge of the registered Bunhill Fields Cemetery (LB Islington) was recently refused following a Public Inquiry, and you may be interested to read the decision on the planning portal.

Chris Sumner
London Parks & Gardens Trust, Duck Island Cottage, St James's Park, London, SW1A 2BJ

Submitted 20 August 2012


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Professor Matthew Gandy, UCL Dept. Geography

I am writing to oppose the proposed development at Wilmer Place. This will have a deleterious impact on Abney Park, which is one of the most important sites for bio-diversity and landscape history in London. I am writing in my capacity as a local resident, a member of Hackney Biodiversity Partnership, and also an academic specializing in urban environmental issues.

I want to raise five points in particular:
1. A unique site
At its completion in 1840 Abney Park combined a garden-cemetery with an elaborate arboretum and rosarium, that were unique in Europe at the time, and featured some 2,500 species of trees and shrubs from around the world. The design drew on prominent European cemeteries such as Père-Lachaise in Paris as well as the natural woodland setting of Mount Auburn Cemetery near Boston. The proposed development does not acknowledge the national and international significance of Abney Park in cultural, historical and bio-diversity terms.
2. Landscape history
The park provides a direct continuity with the rural landscapes that were fast disappearing at the edge of nineteenth-century London since the site incorporated an area once called “the Wilderness” along with seventeenth-century landscaped grounds.1 These features of Abney Park form part of what the urban ecologist Ingo Kowarik terms “old urban nature” comprising elements of the original landscape which have never been built on, and which have subsequently become a pivotal aspect to the ecological significance of the site.2
3. Hackney’s first nature reserve
In the early 1990s the ecological significance of Abney Park was officially acknowledged for the first time and the site was designated as the first statutory Local Nature Reserve in the London Borough of Hackney, and it has subsequently been recognized as one of the most important sites for biodiversity in London. It is now recognized as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) with over 170 species of trees and shrubs, including some rare trees dating from the original Loddiges planting scheme of 1840. The reserve is nationally important for fungi (over 300 species have been recorded), rare beetles thrive on rotting wood (including nationally scarce species), and a remnant fauna of moths and butterflies persists (aver a third of the UK butterfly species have been recorded along with over 200 species of moths).3 The proposed development will present a threat to Abney Park from damage to tree roots, noise and persistent light pollution (which adversely affects bats, birds and night-flying insects).4
4. Environmental Impact Assessment
No Environmental Impact Assessment has been carried out as required under EIA Regulations (SI 293 1999). An adequate bio-diversity impact survey would take one year to complete since many key species are only observable at certain points over a twelve-month period. In order to assess the invertebrate fauna it would be necessary to employ a team of professional scientists to carry out the work and provide a full report. Additionally, a professional bay survey would take several months to complete, and would have to take into account the full range of habitats around the site.
5. Hackney’s Biodiversity Action Plan
The proposed development would contradict Hackney’s own Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP), published this year, which took over a year to complete, and involved a wide range of stakeholders across the borough. The Hackney BAP, written by the Hackney Biodiversity Partnership in collaboration with Hackney’s outstanding Biodiversity Officer, Kate Mitchell, is an example of best practice for London Boroughs. It would be a shame if Hackney’s public commitment towards bio-diversity and environmental education were to be irrevocably damaged by the proposed development.
  1. See E. Walford, Old and new London: a narrative of its history, its people, and its places (Cassell, Petter and Galpin, London, Paris and New York, 1877).
  2. I. Kowarik and S. Körner (eds.) Wild urban woodlands: new perspectives on urban forestry (Springer, New York, 2005).
  3. Critical species of Lepidoptera recorded on the site include Acasis viretata, Combibaena bajuaria, Lobophora halterata and many others. Further information can be obtained from Greenspace Information for Greater London (GIGL) and from Hackney Biodiversity Partnership.
  4. On the effects of light pollution see T. Longcore and C. Rich, “Ecological light pollution” Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 2(4) (2004) pp. 191–198.

Submitted 6 September 2012


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Joseph Bloor, Abney Park wolunteer, green wood worker, professional visualizer




1. Damage to Ecology/Environment and Wildlife of Abney Park Cemetery. Nature Reserve.

Further to Objections raised by Russell Miller, Gina Rackley and others on ecological grounds.


These include direct damage (through excavation) to veteran poplar trees which ignore of the British Standard Root Protection Areas. A lack of a full ecological survey, bat survey, and tree survey. Detrimental effect on both Flora and Fauna Species including a Breeding Pair of Tawny Owls, Sparrow Hawks, Woodpeckers, White Letter Hair Streak (Butterflies/Moths) and a number of Species of Protected Bats.


The Proposed Development at Wilmer Place is of a Significantly Larger Scale than any other development that borders Abney Park Cemetery. Abney is a unique WOODLAND habitat within Hackney and within Central London. The proposed development lies to the South and East of Abney and as such will block a significant amount of direct sunlight from reaching both canopy and ground level of the Woodland. Given the Overall Mass of the Scheme which includes a 5-6 metre ground floor (at approximately 1.5 metres above Abney ground level) PLUS 5 floors of Residential Accomodation (3m floor heights). A total height of over 20m This is only set back a nominal 1 to 1.5 m from the Boundary with Abney. This will cause a radical and NEGATIVE change which will result in the Death of a large number of Veteran Trees, Shrubs and will change the habitat of a Large area making it uninhabitable by a wide variety of existing species. The proposed development will Significantly Overshadow a large area of the Cemetery throughout the year. I have completed some sun shading illustrations (attached) showing the whole of the Cemetery. These have been completed for the 21st day of each and every month and show the cumulative effect of Overshadowing throughout the course of a whole year. These diagrams demonstrate a truer extent of the overshadowing than the information contained within the planning application (sunlight and rights of light) which only assesses the impact on the 21st of March, for a limited period of daylight and for a limited (small area) and show that the consultants reports are wholly insufficient to assess the impact of the development on the Nature Reserve.


Additional negative impact will be caused during the demolition of existing buildings, construction of and lifetime of the proposed building, caused by Mechanical Noise, Vibrations, Dust, Changes to Temperature and air quality from the location of Building Plant Rooms and other disruption (light and noise) from inhabitation.


A Significantly Larger Setback from the boundary (10 metre, root protection area) and garden buffer zone which should not be built on. Plus Significantly reduced Mass of Building may reduce the wholly innapropriate and HARMFUL impact of the scheme.


It should be the role of the developer, the architect and their consultants to prove that NO significant damage will be caused, and this is simply NOT the case.


When was the last time you heard a woodpecker, or saw an owl. These things will be lost unless you decide to protect them and their habitat.


2. Damage (Through negative visual impact) on the Architectural Heritage of Abney Park Cemetery, the Grade ii listed Gates, The Main entrance and other listed monuments and buildings on the site.

Further to Objections by Bernard Boudillion and others on Architectural, Town Planning and Heritage Grounds.


The proposed development is of such a large scale that it dwarfs the Lodge buildings either side of the Main Entrance, and The Grade ii listed gates. It will Overshadow and Overlook large areas of the Cemetery including, the Main Entrance, Lodges, The Funeral Chapel, The Childrens Garden, Green Wood Workshop, Stone Carvers Workshop, as well as many thousands of burial plots. It is a rude and obnoxious building that shows a complete lack of respect for its environment and its nearest neighbours. It takes no account of its location within a Conservation Area, Its Materials are not Local (Imported Terracotta from Italy). Its form and scale might fit somewhere more densely urban but It will detract from the appreciation of historic monuments, cultural heritage and buildings that exist on site.


The proposed development will cast a shadow over the War Memorial on Armistice Day (11th of November). This shows a lack of respect for those who gave their lives to ensure our freedom during two world wars and it will be intrusive to the many visitors who have come either to simply enjoy the peace and tranquility of a natural landscape as an escape from busy London life or to tend the graves of their friends and family.


Few of the other developments that now surround Abney Park actually overlook of the Cemetary. Many terraced houses have their gardens which back on to the boundary wall, and these benefit from views of a tree canopy but do not look down on the landscape. The proposed development seeks to benefit from its proximity to the green space, but shows no consideration for its current use as a cemetery and will in time damage the very nature and character of the place.


The Computer Generated Images within the Planning Application are not numerous enough or extensive enough and do not fully examine the visual impact of the scheme and specifically do not address its impact in either Spring, Autumn and Winter where leaf cover of trees is less significant. A limited number of views and Only 1 (maybe 2) image(s) have been produced with Winter Foliage. A full Visual Impact Assessment should be required which includes a greater number of views from within the Cemetery. (See Attached Map). From Professional experience working in Urban Areas, I would expect that a building of this scale which is classed as a MAJOR DEVELOPMENT, would require at least 20 – 30 views of the scheme in order to assess its visual impact fully. These views should be Verified Views (Which despite claims the ones in the application are NOT) and they should be produced using both Summer AND Winter Photography to clearly show the difference in Foliage of what is primarily a natural environment. The NEGATIVE visual Impact will be greatest in Winter when many of the trees have shed their leaves


3. Damage to the Unique Character and Nature of the WOODLAND landscape.

Abney Park Cemetery may be classified as many things. A Cemetery for one, A Park and Garden, A Nature Reserve, Within a Conservation Area. But Ultimately it is a Woodland Landscape. This is an extremely rare habitat especially within London and though it has developed through many chance occurrences over the 170 years since it was originally planned (1840). This aspect of the site should be protected and treasured. The proximity of a Large Mass of Building will drastically affect the experience of visitors and the survival of Wildlife. Woodland Rides (paths) which currently enjoy dappled sunlight will be cast into long and dark shadows throughout the year. Some areas will not receive any Sunlight before 12noon or 1pm (And these will die). The Lawn and Garden areas at the Main Entrance will be overshadowed for most of the late morning, mid day and early afternoon throughout the year. Damaging the hard work put in by many volunteers over the years. I have worked with many people who are always surprised and delighted to find a real Woodland in the heart of Hackney, I have seen visiting Children from Dalston who have never been to a woodland before jump with joy that this place exists so close to their grey and concrete homes. Abney Park Cemetery may have been neglected in the past, but it is a hidden jewel within a deprived borough and it can and does shine a light into even the darkest corners of urban life.


4. Damage to the Experience of Every Visitor to the Cemetery.

There are numerous individuals who visit Abney Park Cemetery throughout the year. From the Daily Dog Walkers and joggers, Cyclists who use it as a shortcut to avoid a long route through traffic laden one way systems. Families with Children, Students, Retirees. (The whole spectrum of Hackney Residents) The Staff and Volunteers who work there in many different ways. Local artists, musicians who have been encouraged to use the place as inspiration for work and for performances and events. To others who may only be visiting once but have travelled a long way from countries all over the World. Some come to find the graves of long lost relatives, others to study the rare ecosystem and biodiversity that has developed. Still more just to walk through between the trees and stop for a moment in the glades and to rediscover a childlike wonder of the Natural World, all too often forgotten.


I ask you to imagine visiting the grave of your loved one (an ancestor, your mother, father, brother, sister or child) which was previously located in a secluded spot where you felt able to have a private moment of reflection on your loss, only to look up and see a resident of the proposed building walking around in their towel, doing their ironing, overlooking (towering over) you from their 3rd, 4th or 5th floor balcony. To say this is a rude intrusion is to actually too mild a word. That possibility is frankly disgusting and deplorable.


I am not saying that as a member of the planning committee you should be outlawing wearing a towel. But the size and position of this building means that this would be a real possibility if you were to approve the application.


5. Damage Caused to Minority Groups who are not able to represent themselves.

The proposed scheme will overshadow and overlook the Childrens Garden which is adjacent to the environmental classroom. This space is well used throughout by a number of local Nursery Schools, Primary Schools and families as well as for educational activities for school Children run by the Abney Park Trust. It has recently had a significant amount of time and effort put into developing it as a place for Children to both Play and Learn. Through Corporate Volunteers provided through ELBA (East London Business Association). In Winter what is now a sheltered but sunny spot will become dark and uninviting. I doubt whether the Architects or the Developers actually realise that the Childrens Garden at Abney exists and this oversight and ignorance should be enough to prove that they should return to the drawing board and consider the fulllest and widest impact of their scheme before putting forward a new proposal. The developers inclusion of a Private “Woodland” themed play area for Residents Children at the Podium level (6m first floor) is just a contrite and facile attempt to recreate a pseudo interpretation of what actually already exists and is open to the public at Abney.


The proposed development will also Overshadow the Green Wood Workshop, and during demolition and construction would cause disturbance and noise that would mean the activities could not be continued. These activities support a broad range of people drawn from all backgrounds from the local community and people who travel across London to particpate. These range from home schooled children undertaking craft based workshops as part of their education to retirees who value the social and community aspects as much as the skills they share. And again I am sure that neither the Developer nor their Architects are aware of the negative impact their building would have on these groups and others that use the cemetery.


6. Damage to Local Businesses including small independent retailers, by the Large Sainsbury Supermarket Component.

Further to Objections by Stokey Local and other Local business Organisations. There is Significant Local opposition to another Large Supermarket being built in Stoke Newington. The unique character of Stoke Newington Church Street, and the thriving nature of the traditional High Street is all to rare nowadays. This should be protected from the influx of additional retailers which will damage local businesses that have been serving the community for many years.


7. Misleading, Incomplete, Missing, and Misinformation Contained in the Planning Application.

There are a number of questions within the planning application forms which have been answered untruthfully. As well as numerous omissions and professional Disclaimers within consultant reports. A full ecological survey of Abney Park Cemetery should be carried out. Including, Tree Surveys, Bat Surveys, Butterfly and Moth Surveys and Other Wildlife Surveys. The Ecological Report in the application does not even acknowledge that the proposed site is adjacent to a WOODLAND, only seeking to assess the site based on “Built Environment” and “Park and Garden” Criteria. The Rights of Light (Sunlight and Sun Shading) component, does not examine the Overshadowing of the Nature Reserve. The few Computer Generated Images produced are of questionable efficacy, honesty and accuracy, they seek to hide the true impact of the scheme and do not fully (or even adequately) examine the visual impact, especially during winter. Disclaimers within the Sustainability Report from Arup State that this is not their professional opinion, but has been paid/served by their client.


I was actually shocked when I found out that the Architects were AHMM. I would have hoped that they would produce a building more sensitive to its surrounds, more fitting for the local community and with more care for their professional standards.


During the meeting I attended with the Developer I was asked if there was any sort (or scale) of development I would support. And I would say. If they proposed a modest mixed used development with 3 storey buildings adjacent to the high street, and two storey houses with back gardens that bordered the Cemetery. With some Live Work Units, Studios or Workshops to develop small local business then yes I would be likely to support it. But as it stands the Bohemothic Carbuncle they propose which will ruin a place that I love deserves no support whatsoever.


A Final Thought.

Abney Park Cemetery is a truly wonderful and special place and it is really this unique Charm and Magic which is at Stake here. You cannot quantify this. Or even start to qualify this unless you actually visit. So I ask that you, and that means ALL of you. Before you make a decision. Please, get up out of your chairs, leave your committee meeting room and take a walk, a cycle, get a bus or a taxi and come to visit Abney Park Cemetery and witness some of the things that will be lost if this planning application is granted. There are numerous local experts with vastly greater understanding of the place than any of the developers consultants who would be more than happy to show you the hidden treasures. Both natural and Cultural. I have tears in my eyes as I am writing this at the thought that the Greed of a Developer and the Financial Profits of Property Speculation will be favoured over Cultural Heritage, Beauty and a Natural Wonder that will be Sacrificed. You will never be able to return or replace what will be lost so please look deep into your hearts and know that the right thing to do is to REFUSE this application.


I realise that this objection may find its way to the bottom of the pile of paperwork associated with this case. But I hope that someone with more influence than me, reads it and is able to make a difference.


Submitted 19 September 2012


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Hackney Parks Forum


On behalf of Hackney Parks Forum I write to object to Planning Application 2012/2228.
Hackney Parks Forum is an umbrella group of all park user groups in Hackney. Planning
Application 2012/2228 is for a supermarket and 68 residential units. The proposed building is
six storey’s high. It abuts Abney Park Cemetery Nature Reserve.
We object to the proposed development because:
  • the building is too close to the nature reserve
  • the building is too tall and will shade the nature reserve
  • the building will damage trees inside the nature reserve
  • the open woodland edge to the reserve will be lost
  • insufficient surveys have been done to examine the impact on the reserve
  • no Environmental Impact Assessment has been conducted
  • the developer's tree survey does not attach sufficient value to the trees in the reserve
  • the development will have a negative impact on people’s ability to enjoy the nature reserve.
Abney Park Cemetery is a designated Local Nature Reserve and Site of Metropolitan
Importance for Nature Conservation. It is home to many protected and iconic species
including tawny owls, sparrow hawks, pippistrelle bats and rare insects and fungi.
The importance of the nature reserve does not appear to have been sufficiently considered
since the development is very close to the west and north boundaries. In these locations
the proposed building would remove the woodland edge, currently a habitat for sun-loving
The impact of such a large development should have been assessed by surveying the
adjoining nature reserve. Such a survey has not been carried out. The surveys that have
been done of Wilmer Place itself appear to be inadequate. It is unacceptable that there is no
Environmental Impact Assessment. Has the council exercised its statutory duties to protect
trees, wildlife and green spaces?
The developer's tree survey makes no mention of the site being adjacent to an important
nature reserve or the contribution the trees make to nature conservation. No account
appears to have been taken of the British Standard for development site tree surveys, BS
5837, which has a specific category (3) for trees with conservation value. To categorise trees
over 100 years old as having little or no value in a nature reserve is contrary to the opinion of
the developer's ecologist. The trees are habitat for roosting bats and numerous rare insects
and fungi.
The main entrance to Abney Park Cemetery is currently open and spacious with impressive
Egyptian gates. The gates and the ancillary buildings at the entrance would be dominated by
the proposed new building. The development will intrusively overlook a large section of the
nature reserve. Being located to the south and east it will cast a wide shadow. This will have
a negative impact not only on the reserve itself but on the public’s enjoyment of this valuable
open space.
For the above reasons we consider the Planning Application should be refused.
Yours sincerely
Ian Rathbone
Vice Chair

Submitted 20 September 2012


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Commenting on the Wilmer Place Sainsbury’s planning application (2012/2228) – our formal response

We have digested the extensive set of documents from the planning application and have collated our arguments into a single document which was sumbitted to the London Borough of Hackney on 14 September 2012. This was based on our earlier draft, published here on 3 September.

Please submit your response as soon as possible; the Hackney website will remain open for comments until this coming Monday 24 September.

Here are some general points about your response:

  • Contextualize your arguments: say who you are, where you live or work (if local) or how you are connected to Stoke Newington (if not)
  • It is not necessary to quote specific planning policy
  • Try not to be anti-Sainsburys, but by all means discuss the negative impacts of supermarkets on communities such as Stoke Newington
  • The strongest and most familar arguments are on heritage, overdevelopment, impact on the cemetry, and to an extent, transport (visitors)
  • Pick only those arguments you agree with and while we recommend that you make use of the arguments given above, if possible, please try to add your own reflections rather than simply copying and pasting.
  • There is no need to suggest alternatives for the site, but briefly allude to them if you wish

Detailed information about how to go about registering your views with the planning officers of Hackney Council can be found here and if you feel that there are arguments missing from our submission please feel free to add them in the comments below this post.

As the last batch of site notices were put up late, the date by which comments should be received by the planning officer was extended by a week. Officers will have already begun the process of evaluationg the application and comments received to date, but the Hackney website will remain open for comments till this coming Monday 24 September.

Please pass this information on to neighbours, friends and family and encourage them to submit their views to the planning officers.

Our full formal objection was submitted on Friday 14 September. It is also available here as pdf, here as an rtf and here as a doc.

We have collated the submissions of some other local amenity groups and experts here which may be useful in your own submission.



The current application comes after two brief consultation event with the general public and further meetings with special interest groups. Although organized by the retail tenant’s (Sainsbury’s) retained PR consultants, Sainsbury’s has not fully engaged directly with the local community. The developers and Sainsbury’s have not held a public meeting to discover how the community wanted the site to develop. This no doubt explains why the proposals and final application have near-universal opposition amongst the local community. Sainsbury’s and the developer do not understand the local sensitivities of the site, either it’s built context or it’s commercial appeal. The supermarket’s requirements have lead the development’s design progression and the awkward compromise we have in this proposal is no doubt a result of that.

The changes in the design made between the first and second consultations are largely viewed as improvements over the first design, and whilst phrases such as ‘strongly welcomed’ are used by the applicants in relation to these improvements, these relate to the first proposal and the current application still has massive shortcomings.

The revised proposals that form the basis of this application were the subject of a single seven-hour exhibition, on a weekday afternoon/evening that was poorly advertised and not at all visible from any of the public highways. Awareness of this second exhibition was very low amongst local residents and businesses. Although the organizers did write to those who had registered comments at the consultation on the previous scheme, many engaged at that point did not leave names and addresses. The poor turnout at the second exhibition is, no doubt, a result of this and demonstrably does not reflect the strength of feeling and desire to be involved from the local community.

The second consultation included no models, only a single elevation and no CGI views. This made assessment of the visual impact all but impossible.

Regrettably, and no doubt as the sensitivities surrounding a large retail unit were poorly understood from the outset, the reactive consultation garnered almost entirely negative feedback locally. Stoke Newington has a highly creative and professional element amongst its population and it is clear from campaign meetings that an earlier, more proactive opportunity to express ideas on how the site might be developed would have been embraced. It may well have led to a viable, creative, and socially desirable development.

In rejecting this application, we hope the reasons are complete and reflect the community view. The community might then re-engage with the developer with an open mind and arrive at a more acceptable application next time round.

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Affordable Housing

The proposed mix of the 68 residential units is outlined in the Planning Statement S1.3.

With a target (Core Strategy Policy 20) of 50% housing at below market rents (on major developments) the offering of 28% of units (18% units / 22% bedrooms affordable rent; 10% units / 11% bedrooms intermediate shared ownership) is significantly short of the target.

It is widely recognised that definition of ‘affordable’ in the context of Hackney is already a long way out of the reach of many Hackney residents.

As Robbie de Santos, a Lower Clapton resident and Housing Policy professional observes, “Stoke Newington is one of the most expensive areas within the borough for housing and so the need for affordable homes is greater here. Major developments elsewhere in the borough will be contributing to a much greater extent to the 50% target, so without stronger intervention, Stoke Newington could see even fewer affordable homes as a proportion of those in the borough.

“The 7 shared ownership units would benefit middle income households, but do very little to improve access to housing for people on lower incomes.”

There should be little room for manoeuvre below the 50% target. The Financial Viability Statement is not a public document and the specialist consultants retained to examine that statement will need to look for a strong justification for such a massive discrepancy. If it is to be significantly missed, the proposal should seek to exceed the target below-market-rent tenure split of 60% social rent to 40% shared ownership. 30% of TOTAL housing (i.e. 60% of 50%) should be seen as the absolute minimum for a social rent target.

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It is significant that pedestrian access to both the residential units (with a nominal 144 residents) and the retail unit is via a short segment of Stoke Newington High St. Consultations on earlier schemes have identified considerable transport difficulties for this site, positioned, as it is, at the end of a one-way system that is, on all technical evidence, unlikely to change in the short or medium term. Indeed the presence of this development and it’s particular access configuration may constrain any future attempt to remove the Stoke Newington Gyratory.

The developers have conceded that the development is not suitable for any form of car parking (apart from disabled resident’s bays) by virtue of its location on the gyratory and the current use of the narrow footpath on Stoke Newington High Street. The majority of the stretch of the footpath between the junction with Stoke Newington Church Street and the end of the one way system at Northwold Road is reserved for bus stops for nine busy day services (with 78 vehicles per hour according to table 3.3 of the Transport Assessment) and 4 night services serving Stoke Newington. It already suffers from pedestrian congestion around the bus stops. The increase in pedestrian flow around that area needs to be carefully studied for its impact on the bus stops and congestion on the footpath in general. Any ‘thinning’ of the two bus stops to accommodate the increased flow of pedestrians, would be to the detriment of passengers who may have to stand between several stops.

Paradoxically, a car-free development will cause vehicles to stop in front of both the residential and retail development, in the bus stops and bus lane for pick-ups and drop-offs of both residents, visitors, and shoppers. Additionally delivery drivers unfamiliar with the residential development, or those unwilling to make another circuit of the slow gyratory, will be inclined to park up to drop off to make drop offs to the residential development entrance. No amount of signage and traffic orders deeming these movements as illegal will prevent infringements occurring and when they do they have potential to seriously reduce the flow of the many buses through these stop and bus lane.

Although some way from detailed development, the impact on the proposed CS1 cycle superhighway should be considered in this context.

Primary access by cyclists to both the retail and residential development is via Stoke Newington High Street. Against the backdrop of 78 bus movements per hour this is a clear safety concern.

The Transport Assessment (4.21) suggests the 22 cycle spaces for the retail development be provided on the public highway along Stoke Newington High Street. There is no demonstration of how 11 Sheffield stands or similar might be provided on this already narrow stretch of footpath that wouldn’t impede the flow of pedestrians along the footpath or indeed to new or relocated bus stops.

There will additionally be some enticement for cyclists coming from the north to make dangerous movements across the A10 and bus lanes to avoid the gyratory and head straight for the development entrances on Stoke Newington High Street.

The limited vehicular access presents potential difficulties for emergency site access, in particular from fire appliances. The only viable route into the main body of the site for large vehicles is through Wilmer Place, this narrow route becomes highly vulnerable to being temporarily blocked by loading and other vehicle movements that will continue to take place. There will be limited access to the main mass of the building from the High Street and nothing viable from the two sides bound by Abney Park Cemetery. This should be subject to a detailed professional fire officer’s opinion on suitable density of permanent and transient population on the site given the development’s access constraints.

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Scale and massing

There is apparently no model for the development, which would make assessment of the scale and massing somewhat easier.

The particular design, although clearly subjective, does articulate a structure that rises to six stories relatively well in isolation. But in the context of this ecological- and heritage-sensitive site, the overall scale and mass are alien. Constrained on all sides by long established building and trees, the envelope of the this pocket of land is well established, and even the relatively well-articulated mass rises well above the familiar natural and built features in the vicinity and with it’s prominence, detracts significantly from the setting of the surroundings.

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Principle of development – Suitability of the Site

The proposal identifies the Hackney Retail and Leisure Study (Roger Tym & Partners, for LBH, May 2005) as a justification for provision of a new retail development. Importantly that study, whilst informing future policy has not been adopted, wholesale, as policy.

s4.11 of the Executive Summary of that report merely identifies Wilmer Place as a “development opportunity” and “suitable for retail or leisure uses”. The report does not particularly seek to assess need, desirability or suitability of a specific retail proposition, save for a single suggestion that in the District Town Centre as a whole, “some 12% of respondents suggested the provision of a cinema or leisure facility” (s3.24).

s5.9 refers to [the adopted, July 1999] “development brief [for Wilmer Place] which seeks to encourage a wide range of town centre commercial and community uses” and reiterates that “both retail and leisure uses are suitable, though development would be assisted if various owners (including the Council) cooperate in preparing a comprehensively designed scheme.”

As S3.6 of the Planning Statement refers, on a wider scale, the report identifies the lack of comparative goods retail in Stoke Newington District Town Centre without identifying a particular need. Indeed it goes on to confirm that nearby Dalston “attracts shoppers from … Stoke Newington without losing significant trips to [it]”.

Furthermore this proposal’s particular large-scale retail offering – a supermarket – far from filling a gap in provision, seeks to replicate the convenience retail which already exists in the Stoke Newington District Town Centre and adjacent Church Street Local Shopping Centre. There are many smaller scale independent grocers two “Metro/Express” chain supermarkets and the long established Morrison’s site just 330m away to the north, with over three times the retail floor space of this proposal.

S3.3 of the application Planning Statement evidences the 2005 Study for “intensification” of the site to “underpin the vitality and viability of the area”. The principle is, broadly, one the community supports, but doesn’t believe “an additional convenience offer” does that. Indeed a single chain offering on this scale does much to damage and destroy the vitality and viability. We express this more fully elsewhere. The principle of providing a mixed use development with housing is not contested, provided the employment opportunities on the site are retained and there is no collateral loss of employment in the immediate District Town Centre and Local Shopping Centre.

The Planning Statement goes on to claim (s3.8) “the proposal will strengthen the retail offer of [the] District Centre, enhancing consumer choice and providing a more competitive retail offer.” In reality the supermarket offers nothing not already in abundance in the District Town Centre, and Stokey Local’s own studies of pricing within the District and Shopping Centres show Sainsbury’s to consistently be more expensive than the independent retailers and Morrisons convenience retailers in every category. The false perception that this large retailer with its low margins and buying power offers better pricing is a powerful one that will unquestionably drive shoppers to it on that bogus premise; and away from the other retailers, compromising their viability.

As observed more fully in the heritage considerations, in 2006, the Planning Inspector, in rejecting an appeal for a large unit on Newington Green, asserted “it is legitimate for the local planning authority to seek to protect and strengthen established shopping centres. … The addition of another shop… is bound to impact on the viability and vitality of the existing shops selling similar lines of goods”.

It further claims the proposal “will have direct and indirect benefits for other town centre businesses through increased footfall and ‘linked trips’. This is highly unlikely. So called “linked-trip” theory is highly theoretical and assumes some general characteristics of an area that simply aren’t present in the unique grain of Stoke Newington. The unique characteristics of Stoke Newington and the threat this proposal presents are explored elsewhere.

A car-free development with more expensive convenience offering, will not attract the large number of families north of Cazenove Road who currently use the much larger Morrisons nearby, and similar sized Sainsbury’s at Stamford Hill Broadway. There may be a small number of pedestrian customers in the immediate vicinity of Morrison’s who may, through brand perception, prefer the Sainsbury’s offering, but in reality, with an Sainsbury’s already at Stamford Hill Broadway, this has tiny potential and it is beyond unlikely that any of those would venture far into the other High Street stores in the vicinity.

The store is most likely to pick up trade from commuters arriving at Stoke Newington Rail Station in the evening, continuing south, on foot. Or commuters travelling in all directions who arrive at the bus stops on the High Street. These commuters will already be passing through the area that the proposal claims could benefit.

Unfortunately the one way system divides the retail offering in the area. The types of retail offerings in the immediate vicinity of the site, on the High Street between the Cemetery and the junction with Church Street reflect this. There is near 100% occupation in these units and the businesses are generally viable and long-established; they change far less frequently than Church Street or in the south of the High Street. These retailers are unlikely to benefit from the diversion of trade the proposed supermarket offers.

In fact there simply is no evidence to suggest there will be any increase in footfall that could meaningfully benefit extant or future traders on the High Street.

Inexplicably, s3.9 claims the proposal “will ensure that locally generated expenditure is retained in Stoke Newington”. Without an agreed housing partner it is hard to make or verify such as claim as far as operation of the residential element is concerned. But we can say with some certainty that Sainsbury’s will not be retaining any meaningful amount of the store’s turnover in the local economy. Indeed as public limited company it has a duty to return profits to shareholders. In surveys we established a particularly strong link between the business to business trade of the patchwork of small trades currently operating on site and other local trades, professionals and retailers.

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Character of Stoke Newington District Town Centre and Local Shopping Centre

The Hackney Retail and Leisure Study of 2005 recommends “that policies be introduced to protect and enhance Stoke Newington’s character and function as a district centre.”

The Planning Statement claims (S3.9): “the proposal will improve the overall quality and attractiveness of the [Stoke Newington District Town] centre”. There is little evidence for this. Indeed apart from reinstating some of the architectural features higher up at 193-201 Stoke Newington High St, the rest of the development is either neutral (being largely concealed) or arguably destructive (teh combine frontage disrupting the small-scale pattern of shopfronts).

Stoke Newington District Town Centre and the Church Street Local Shopping Centre together form a particularly atypical centre, especially by London standards. Stoke Newington is not a village in the countryside, but a “village” in an urban metropolis comprised of centres, many of which share common characteristics that are absent in Stoke Newington.

The retail character of the centres forms a significant part of the heritage character enshrined in the Conservation Area. The small units, occupied almost exclusively by an eclectic variety of independent retailers. Amongst the handful of conventional convenience retail is a wealth of more specialist comparative goods retailers and a relatively high proportion of restaurants and cafes, which are, but for one, local, independent businesses. This fine grain independent retail is what Stoke Newington is known for. It’s reputation is hard won and stands out in a London that is increasingly repetitive in urban structure. For right or wrong the reputation drives the residential market and it’s visitors who come largely for food and the open spaces. Visitors do not, and are unlikely to ever come for the convenience retail offering.

Claims of revitalising the area, increased footfall and linked trips do not stack up. This is not a novelty offering. Indeed S3.55 of the Planning Statement concedes “the foodstore… serve[s] the localised residential catchment rather than seeking to draw trade from neighbouring centres.” That localised catchment is already familiar with the retail offering on the High Street and presented with another choice that is not novel, in unlikely to veer far off its familiar routes to explore new retail offers.

The store itself is most certain to draw trade. There is undoubted convenience, particularly for those south of Cazenove Road, of a large store where multiple items can be bought, loyalty card points earned, and spent, and the marketing machinery that convinces us it’s a value proposition (despite local evidence to the contrary). This will, without question, have a long term detrimental impact on the character of the Conservation Area and its independent small scale shops. Both the perceived threat and the slow draw of trade away from the other, dispersed convenience stores, will draw footfall away from other shops and drive people directly home. Demonstrating that people will use the store is neither a demonstration that it is needed nor desirable. It is a demonstration only that it is perceived as more convenient than, say the larger superstore 300m to the north. In practice, local residents will favour the convenience but have no complaints over the nature of the current smaller, disparate offerings.

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The potential employment opportunities are of course welcome. Many of the construction jobs will, of course, apply to any type of development on this site of a similar scale are are, in any case, transient.

There are a number of established jobs on the site at present spread across a number of small businesses all of which with either cease trading, or relocate. Relocation will incur significant expense for the business owners and it is by no means a certainty that any of those currently employed on site would be available to work in any relocated site.

Indirectly the small businesses on site at present use other local trades and businesses to supply goods and services. A significant proportion of this local trade would disappear as these businesses relocate or wind up.

The 80 full-time equivalent jobs in the large new retail store will not materialize until the development is complete and the tenant starts trading. Once trading begins, many of the senior jobs will be filled by experienced staff already in the operators employment, from other sites. The remaining job opportunities could be subject to a local labour agreement but it is unclear how such an agreement could work in practice, how enforceable it might be and how long it might last. What starts off as a largely locally source workforce could, over a relatively short period become diluted as staff move on to other jobs and replacements are recruited from further afield.

Job losses associated with the large scale retail operation are difficult to quantify, but will be significant. They will most likely take a period of time to materialise as existing retailers in the vicinity scale down or cease trading because of both the perceived threat and actual pressure on sales brought to bear by the low-margin, low-cost operation of the major retailer. There is no opportunity for a ‘transfer’ of jobs in the area. By and large, current businesses will instead shed their staff or scale down hours some time after the new large-scale retailer has employed it’s workforce. Even if the net employment in the area is broadly positive (and this is by no means a given), the new job for the unemployed worker comes as no solace for the established employee of a local business that scales-down, who is latterly left out of work.

S3.1 of the Planning Statement notes that various policy “resists the long-term protection of sites allocated for employment use where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for that purpose.” This is evidently not a site where that can be demonstrated even in its current form. If the argument is that this supports the net gain of employment on site under the proposed scheme, it fails to take into consideration the nature of that employment and the collateral losses within the District Town Centre, Local Shopping Centre and further afield.

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Ecology and Biodiversity

S1.1 of the Planning Statement claims “notable enhancements to the ecology and biodiversity of the site”. It should be noted this claim is restricted to the development site, not to the adjacent Abney Park Cemetery, the significant and important ecology of which is under threat from this development.

In s3.33 of the Planning Statement the overshadowing (summarised from the more detailed report) does affect the “Cemetery to the west of the site in the morning and to the northern entrance area later in the afternoon.” Given the fragility and rich ecology of the site, dismissing this overshadowing as “negligible” is unconvincing.

We leave the bulk of the expert analysis on the effects of the development on the ecology, and biodiversity of the Abney Park Cemetery to local professional expert Russell Miller Arboriculture whose original and supplementary submissions we support and summarise as an objection on the following grounds:

Failure to conduct any proper investigation into the consequences of the development for Abney Park Cemetery Nature Reserve;

Failure to conduct adequate bat surveys. Bats are known to exist at Abney and the developer’s ecological surveys reveal they may be present on the site itself. Despite recommendations to do so by their own ecologists the developers have failed to conduct a full nocturnal bat survey across all appropriate seasons;

Failure to design in the retention of Abney’s valuable veteran trees. The developer’s tree survey fails to recognise the importance and value of Abney veteran black poplars. The develop originally sought to fell 12 trees inside Abney (including 8 old black poplars). Whilst the developer appears to no longer require the trees to be felled they nevertheless intend to build right up to them and thereby condemn them by default in breach of industry best practise guidelines.

The proposed development pays no regard to the valuable ecology of the site, specifically the woodland edge to the Abney Park Nature Reserve/Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. If permitted the development will completely destroy this woodland edge and its associated flora and fauna. This includes protected species.

The development breaches LDF Core Strategy planning policy, the Hackney and London Biodiversity Action Plans and Hackney’s statutory duty to protect biodiversity.

We also support the objection made on 20 August 2012 by Chris Sumner, jointly on behalf of the London Parks & Gardens Trust and Garden History Society.

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Although somewhat subjective, the overall design quality is evidently high. The accommodation in particular offers a particularly good integration of outdoor space, communal space. daylight and living space. The proposed materials are of a high quality and the overall appearance and shape are architecturally interesting.

However, it is wholly inappropriate for the unique sensitivities of this pocket of land and property.

The ‘improvements’ to the terraces properties on the High Street are limited to detail above the ground floor. Insertion of an alien shopfront across 5 units in the terrace of townscape merit is to the detriment of the Conservation Area and the well established small-scale grain of the shop fronts in both the High Street and Church Street.

S3.37 of the Planning Statement claims the foodstore entrance design will “add vitality and visibility to the High Street” but even if true only does so to the small north west segment of the street, substantially separated as it is, from the shops on the lower High Street and Church Street by the one way system and the bus stops. As has been discussed elsewhere, it is arguable that this small parade is in particular need of increased vitality even if it could demonstrated this proposal would add that.

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The Heritage Statement lays out the policy position and assets clearly. However it fails to make a case as to how this proposal will positively contribute to the built heritage.

Abney Park Cemetery is clearly a sensitive ecological and heritage asset. This proposal threatens to damage the Cemetery in three key ways: ecologically, aesthetically, though overlooking and economically.

The main ecological arguments, as mentioned elsewhere are left to Russell Miller Arboriculture and the Garden History Society whose submissions we have seen and support.

Aesthetically, it seems easy to argue that the current bland, low quality construction on the site harms the setting of the Cemetery, in particular the critical views from Cazenove Road (incorporating the Northwold & Cazenove Conservation Area) and Stamford Hill. In reality the damage is mitigated by the low height of the construction, its colour scheme, the lack of detail to the gable that faces the gates, and crucially, the massing, hard by the High Street terrace. Unquestionable the insertion is insensitive and its removal couldn’t fail to improve the setting.

However the scale and massing of the proposed development is too large and dominates the Cemetery and the entrance in particular. Although ‘pulled back’ from the border of the Cemetery since the original proposal, this application is still considerably closer than the extant building. It rises much higher and the articulation, whilst being aesthetically interesting in another context, actually serves to reinforce the sense of overshadowing and way in which the building dominates the view. Additionally the V shaped ‘slot’ that is created by the articulation, between the backs of the High Street terrace and the vertical extremity of the proposed residential block, creates a visual interruption that further draws attention away from the Egyptian gates, and flora of the Cemetery, which should always be the dominant feature in those critical views from Cazenove Road and Stamford Hill, both of which rise away from the site.

The extreme massing at the border of the Cemetery is totally alien to the fine urban grain of the entire Conservation Area and its surrounding. It also destroys the seclusion, the peace and amenity of privacy that neighbouring parts of the Cemetery offer visitors. Accessible, open green spaces are critical socially, particularly in dense urban environments such as Hackney. The sense of relative seclusion that these spaces offer is vital to preserve. It can only be destroyed once. Views over the Cemetery, indeed any green space, are of course, highly desirable but must be resisted. Allowing developments that overlook, effectively sells off the views to a handful of people who can afford the premiums such residences attract, and destroys the seclusion, privacy and ‘escape’ of a vast expanse of space that could otherwise be enjoyed by anyone. High rise over open spaces is not to be resisted per se, but where development is so close as to overlook the space that it permanently destroys privacy and seclusion, it must be prevented.

From the High Street, the aesthetic effect of the new shop-front spanning five units will be significant and alien to the Conservation Area which is largely characterised by single and some double units. Larger units exist in isolation along Church Street but are sensitively designed and the independent stylings reinforce the character of the Conservation Area. There are highly-branded chains of a larger scale further south on the High Street but they exist in a wholly different context, dense with shop-fronts on both sides. At this point, north of Church Street, the rhythm of shop fronts, and in particular their interruptions is well defined, and of a small, low-key scale. Apart from the inappropriate scale of a vast glass five-unit shopfront, the particular tenant, Sainsbury’s, will most likely demand a style of branding and in-window dressing that, in common with the rest of its estate, employs large scale indoor vinyl advertising and branding that will be wholly inappropriate in a conservation context and would become permissible under the deemed consent of the Control of Advertisement Regulations (SI 2007/783).

As has been explained elsewhere, the commercial viability of extant businesses in the Stoke Newington and Church Street Conservation Areas is under direct threat from the proposed superstore and loss of car parking. The S8 of the 2004 Stoke Newington Conservation Area Appraisal the threats to the CA include the decay of local buildings due to low profitability of the small independent shops. Any threat to that profitability will pose a real threat to the CA which would rapidly lead to urban blight.

Even the perception of loss of trade has a pre-emptive and direct effect on viability when business owners seek to ‘quit whilst ahead’. The occupancy rate within the two Conservation Areas is high but if these dwindle, there will be pressure to allow amalgamation of units, destroying the fine grain of the largely single-unit retail premises. The amalgamated units will tend to attract chain-store supermarkets and restaurants and as well as destroying the independent small-unit character of the conservation areas the associated demands on transport due to delivery patterns, and customer profiles will have a severe negative effect on the general amenity and accessibility of the area.

Such theoretical observations on the effect of larger units within a conservation area, the nature of the businesses they attract and the demands on transport were considered by the Planning Inspector in 2006 when an appeal in the Newington Green Conservation Area was refused (combined judgements APP/V5570/A/05/1193422 & 1193806). In it the Inspectors observes that a “failure to observe the scale of shops… would create a discordant feature in the street scene… which would be harmful to the character of the CA, with its more intimate, even domestic scale of shops”. Importantly the Inspector is marking out the scale of the retail outlets as a defining characteristic of the (Newington Green) CA.

Furthermore, and significantly, when challenged on the involvement of the planning system in suppressing competition, he asserted “it is legitimate for the local planning authority to seek to protect and strengthen established shopping centres. … The addition of another shop… is bound to impact on the viability and vitality of the existing shops selling similar lines of goods”.

Further detailed arguments on heritage have been made by the Stoke Newington Conservation Areas Advisory Committee (SN CAAC) who have had direct contact with the developers and their agents and consultants at two separate meetings during this proposal’s gestation. We have seen their draft report and support their detailed observations and objection, which in summary are:

A detrimental effect on the character and environment of Abney Park Cemetery. The visual impact, light pollution and shadow cast by the development are all substantially detrimental to the seclusion and ‘rural quality’ [2004 CAA].

Over-development, mass and height. The view from High Street of the Cemetery gates and the Victorian terrace will be dominated by a 7 story building, unsympathetic in style and of inappropriate mass and height.

Shadow most likely in excess of that outlined in the application report.

Radical departure from the historical development of the site. The loss of historical open space in the North Western corner which has existed for a very substantial period and contributes to the open feel of the Cemetery.

The proposed amalgamation of the five units on the High Street is inappropriate in the context of the existing terrace.

Detrimental effect of a single large scale retailer on the Conservation Area which was established in 1983 in part to preserve the a High Street characterised by local independent shops and cafes. The consequential danger of urban blight.

In its draft objection SN CAAC rightly observes: “A Conservation Area is also, if it is to work, an expression of a local community. The very strong opposition to the proposed supermarket is therefore worrying.”

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Stoke Newington is well known and well regarded for its vibrant local economy and enviable diversity of businesses providing local residents with groceries. Stokey Local conducted its own detailed survey of the local convenience shops in 2011 and found that 24 sell fresh vegetables, 22 sell fresh fruit, 19 sell fresh meat, 9 sell fresh fish, 10 have deli counters, 27 sell dairy products, 29 sell bread, 19 sell frozen food, 30 sell dry goods, 25 sell alcohol, 22 sell household cleaning products, 2 are pharmacies, 20 sell newspapers and 32 sell confectionery. A new supermarket on the Wilmer Place site would be in direct competition with these convenience businesses.

This range of shops represents a more traditional High Street which has all but disappeared elsewhere in London (and indeed the rest of the UK) as supermarkets have come to dominate the retail sector. These small convenience shops are a defining part of Stoke Newington’s unique character and attraction. These established businesses would be adversely affected by a competing, large supermarket in the heart of Stoke Newington District Town Centre.

As the developer’s own Retail Statement makes clear (S3.2: Changes in Retail Composition – Stoke Newington District Centre), this diverse convenience provision is already under threat, with the proportion of stores in Stoke Newington dedicated to groceries reducing over the past few years, likely due to the challenging economic environment and increasing rents (up 43% between 2001 and 2008 according to the London Town Centre Health Check Analysis, December 2009). A new supermarket in the centre of Stoke Newington will reduce this diversity.

The Retail Statement cites ‘empirical evidence’ that is weak and contradictory and asserts a series of totally unsupported assumptions, which, without evidence, are difficult to have any faith in.

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Evidence for shopping habits in Stoke Newington

The Retail Statement claims Stoke Newington is ‘dominated’ by the Morrison’s store but in the same paragraph asserts that it is on the ‘periphery’ and ‘does not function as part of the core retail offer of the district centre’. Indeed as Morrison’s is not part of the ‘core retail offer’, it coexists well alongside the diverse independent convenience stores located in the centre of Stoke Newington. This large format Morrison’s is easily accessible for a ‘main shop’ and yet does not overwhelm the small independents. A further large supermarket located more centrally in the Stoke Newington District Town Centre would have a far more deleterious effect on these shops which are highly vulnerable to small reductions in footfall and revenue.

The Retail Statement suggests that ‘the findings of the Hackney Retail and Leisure Survey(HRLS) provide useful empirical evidence in understanding shopping patterns and habits’, however the HRLS does not offer sufficient granularity. The zones supposedly reflecting the shopping habits of the residents of Stoke Newington also including residents living well away and closer to other shopping centres (and understandably making use of them).

For example, HRLS Zone 8 comprises three wards. Two of those, Brownswood and New River, are substantially closer to the large Sainsbury’s at Harringay Green Lanes than to Stoke Newington District Town Centre so it is unsurprising that residents are making use of this store. It is highly unlikely that they would switch to a smaller and more distant Sainsbury’s which does not offer on-site parking. Similarly, residents of New River have better access to Sainsbury’s at Stamford Hill Broadway with it’s underground car park, than to Wilmer Place..

This is confirmed by Sainsbury’s own Nectar card data cited in the Retail Statement. Yet the conclusions then drawn are not borne out by that evidence. The diagrams given in Appendix 8 clearly demonstrate that for the Harringay and Dalston stores, very little of the takings (of the order of a few percent) come from customers travelling from Stoke Newington. Unsurprisingly, the more convenient Stamford Hill store derives a substantial proportion of its takings from residents of Stoke Newington.

The Household Survey is also heavily biased towards supermarket shopping and the concept of the ‘main shop’. It does not give a sufficiently informative insight into the use of smaller shops by Hackney residents. As such, while the HRLS Home Survey provides a good picture of the state of supermarket shopping habits amongst the residents of the borough in 2004, it does not provide a sufficiently adequate picture of the state of supermarket and independent shopping habits of Stoke Newington residents in 2012 to support the conclusions of theRetail Statement.

In fact, the HRLS Visitor Survey paints a very different picture of the people using Stoke Newington’s facilities to that painted in the Retail Statement. When asked for the main and secondary purpose of their visit (Q1 and Q1b), 27% of respondents were making use of the District Town Centre for ‘shopping for food and groceries at shops other than supermarkets’ as their main or secondary purpose for being there; while only 13% were there for ‘supermarket shopping’. When asked ‘Do you have any suggestions for how this centre can be improved?’ only 24% selected ‘provide a better range of shops’. In other words, in 2004 three quarters of people using Stoke Newington District Town Centre felt that the range of shops met their needs.

The HRLS surveys were conducted in 2004 and in the eight years since, the convenience retail scene has changed substantially in Stoke Newington with Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local, Iceland and Whole Foods stores arriving in the District Town Centre. Also during this time the three large Stamford Hill Safeway, Somerfield and Netto supermarkets have all been substantially refurbished and rebranded as Morrisons, Sainsburys and ASDA respectively. All three retain car parks.

In addition to these multiples, we have a diverse array of high quality greengrocers, butchers, bakers and other grocery supplies on both the High Street and Church Street. The supermarkets in and around the Stoke Newington District Town Centre complement the local independent’s food provision but their scale and location mean that these two aspects of the Stoke Newington convenience retail scene can happily coexist side by side. A large supermarket located directly in the centre of Stoke Newington will irrevocably change this for the worse.

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Impacts on local economy and evidence for ‘linked trips’

The Retail Statement repeatedly refers to ‘locally generated retail expenditure’, suggesting it is better for cash to be spent in a local supermarket than in one far away. But in fact this does little to improve the local economy as national chain supermarkets, regardless of how local they might be are extractive, drawing money out of local economies.

Money spent in local independent shops is far more likely to stay in the local economy because independents tend to make use of locally supplied services (legal, accountancy etc) and the profits tend to stay in the local community, while supermarkets use centralized, in-house services and channel profits to distant shareholders.

The Retail Statement also suggests visitors who come to Stoke Newington for a weekly ‘main shop’ will use the opportunity to visit other businesses in the area. It is very difficult to have much faith in this claim as supermarket customers visiting Stoke Newington to undertake their ‘main shop’ would mostly be arriving on foot and be burdened with the proceeds of a weekly shop making visits to further retailer inconvenient and unlikely..

The Tesco-funded study undertaken by academics from Southampton University, cited in theRetail Statement, found that while there were examples of high rates of ‘linked trips’ in market towns (and where the supermarket had car parking), the rate of linked trips in district centres was much lower.

The Southampton study attempts to assess whether there is an adverse effect on the retail composition of district centres and market towns but only considers a 12 month period after a supermarket opens. The long term impact of a large supermarket opening in an area dominated by local independents is not considered. The implication that the study dismisses the ‘widely held views linking supermarket development to the decimation [sic] of existing centres and their retail diversity’ is erroneous. This destruction can be seen across the country. District centres with the vibrancy and diversity of Stoke Newington are now a rarity.

The estimates of trade draw found in Appendix 11 of the Retail Statement are not credible. It claims that a mere £40,000 or 0.25% of its revenue will be drawn from local independents in the Stoke Newington District Town Centre, £20,000 or 0.1% from the Church Street Local Shopping Centre and £10,000 or 0.05% from the Stoke Newington Road Local Shopping Centre. It is very hard to place any stock in this figure given the proposal’s size and location in the heart of Stoke Newington and the Statement’s promotion of the unproven concept of ‘linked trips’ and calls into doubt the entire table and the wider Statement.


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Our previous draft response was published here on the 3 September. They can still be viewed in three different formats: here as a pdfhere as an rtf or here as a doc.

Wilmer Place Design & Access Statement

Hackney Council have encountered some difficulties posting a 112 page Design & Access Statement on the proposed development at Wilmer Place and 193-201 Stoke Newington High Street to the official 'case file' of documents on the planning website.

Most other documents appeared on 9 August 2012, but the Design and Access Statement was only made available on 21 August, and even then only as 112 seperate single-page downloads. This was subsequently re-provided on 24 August as 5 larger document.

The "D&A" is not technically part of the plans that get approved or refused but is the main development summary and it contains many images that do not appear elsewhere. So it is a crucial document in the consutation process.

The official source of all the documents, including the 112 seperate pages of the D&A, is the Hackney website case file. Direct links to the five segments are below:

As at 27 August, the Heritage Statement posted on the case file is missing it's appendices. The Council is chasing the agent to provide a full version


Sainsbury’s development consultation closes this Monday 24 September

Last few days to sumbit comments to the Council.

As we posted recently, Newmark Properties, submitted their revised application for a 1,486 sq m (16,000 sq ft) Sainsbury's superstore and 68 unit housing development to Hackney planners on 13 July. This began the countdown on a 13 week period in which the council aims to determine if the proposal for Wilmer Place and 193-201 Stoke Newington High Street, should be granted or refused permission.

The Council undertook some administrative tasks to check all is technically in order, to post notifications about the development, and to begin a period of public consultation.
Officers will already be considering the applications and teh comments received to date, but further comments will be accepted on the website until coming Monday 24 September.
A decision should be made within the statutory 13 week period which began on 13 July. In reality, a controversial and substantial application such as this is likely to miss the various target dates, but nonetheless we need to ensure our arguments are made and support for our views are clearly demonstrated in writing as soon as possible and no later than this coming Monday 24 September.
Here are answers to some questions you may have:
What can I do now?
Read as many of the documents that have been posted on the council's website as you can. These, and only these, are the official application documents. There are a lot of them and most are highly technical. If you can, you should at least read the Design and Access Statement (available here). It is a 'glossy' summary of the applicant's case and contains computer generated images of the proposal.
Read our full response here, and if possible the responses of selected other groups and experts here. Make sure your neighbours, and the managers of all the local shops you use and care about are aware that the process has begun and that they need to make their views known to the Council as soon as possible this week and no later than this coming Monday 24 September.
If you want to examine the planning application documents on paper you can view them during office hours, at the Hackney Service Centre, 1 Hillman Street, London E8 1DY (behind the Town Hall on Mare Street).
Can I just sign a petition?
Stokey Local won't be organising a petition because, in practice, they have a limited effect in the planning process. 
Typically an officer will summarise the petitions under a single line stating how many signatories there are. They do help demonstrate wide support for a view, but unless the statement on the petition is unusually short and comprehensive, it is usually regarded as too broad an objection or too complex to have been truly considered by its signatories.
Instead we'd like you to write to the planning officers, preferably in your own words, as soon as possible, and no later than Friday 21 September. You don't need to say much; we've published our full and comprehensive objection for you to take ideas from.
What will Stokey Local be doing?
We haven't had any advance access to the documents so it took some timer to formulate our response which we submitted on 14 September.
When should I write to the Council?
Now! Use our arguments to formulate your own response to the Council. It's important that arguments made are clear, succinct, and are mostly valid planning arguments. It is not necessary to quote policy, regulations, or the law. Planning officers will identify relevant policy when they write their report.
It is far more important that your response is clear, unambiguous, relevant and reasoned.
We want you to do this as soon as possible this week. The Hackney website will accept comments up until this coming Monday 24 September 2012.
How should I write to the planners?
If you can keep your response brief (within 2000 characters), the best way is to use the Council's website. Click here to use it. This will result in an automatic email with a copy of your comments being sent straight back to you – usually within a minute or two. This is confirmation that your response is stored within the planning system. We recommend you compose your response in a document and then copy and paste it across to the online form. If you want to know how many characters you have written then there is a website here which will tell you.
If you have longer comments, or if you don't receive the automatic confirmation, you should email them to instead. The subject of your email should quote the application number. For example:
  Subject: Objection to 2012/2228 Land at Wilmer Place
You should receive an automated response to confirm your email has been received by the Council, but not that it has been assigned to the relevant officer. You may get an email a few days later to confirm the officer has your comments and will take them in to consideration but it doesn't always happen, so don't worry if you don't get the latter.
Feel free to forward a copy of your submission to Stokey Local at if you wish.
You can also write a letter by quoting the reference "2012/2228 Land at Wilmer Place" and sending it to Hackney Planning Service, 2 Hillman Street, London E8 1FB, though please do so in plenty of time.
There is more information on this process at the Hackney planning website:
Who else should I write to?
The only people who have any part in the decision making process are the planning officers. They are paid employees, usually with planning degrees and a wealth of experience in these matters. They are not politicians and are not elected. They are not put under any pressure to make decisions by Councillors, the Mayor of Hackney, the political parties or any other group. They are the local government equivalent of civil servants and the initial decision is in their hands.
The bad old days of bungs, back-handers, brown envelopes, and shady deals are long gone. Much of the decision making process is de-politicized, open and transparent (though not necessarily easy to understand). We will be monitoring it throughout.
Should I write to the Mayor of Hackney, the Mayor of London or my local councillors?
The Mayor of Hackney has no role in day-to-day planning matters and will not be able to involve himself in the process. Nor will the Mayor of London, who has a role in some types of planning appeal so must not get involved in a local matters.
Local, elected councillors have no more influence on this stage of the process than the rest of us. They do not make any planning decisions. Most of them can make comments in the same way we make a written submission, and they may do so in the name of the political party they belong to, their constituents or both. However, they do have an additional role in the Planning Sub-committee, should this application reach that stage (see below).
They are usually happy to receive copies of your correspondence to the planners or clarify their position and role, but cannot influence the decision of the planners.
What is the role of the Councillors and the Planning Sub-committee?
The vast majority (over 90%) of planning applications are determined solely by the professional planning officers within the Council. Only when their decision is controversial (i.e. they approve a proposal that had a significant number of objections), or it goes significantly against Council or GLA policy, does the decision get referred to a special sub-committee of elected councillors. This is the Planning Sub-committee and it usually sits once a month to determine around 15 or so refferred applications.
The Sub-committee comprises a panel of nine (plus six substitutes, or reserves) of the elected councillors from across Hackney. They must make decisions strictly in accordance with policy and planning law. In this role, they do not represent either their political parties or their constituents. They must have an open mind on all applications and must not have been involved in any of the lobbying or campaigning on a particular application. If they have been involved, they must withdraw from the discussions and are ineligible to vote.
Four of the nine councillors from the three wards in the immediate vicinity of Wilmer Place sit on the Planning Sub-committee (or are substitutes). Only one of those four will be eligible to sit on this matter – Cllr Ian Sharer (Cazenove Ward). Cllr Sharer cannot be approached or lobbied on this application. Nor should any of the other members of Planning Sub-committee from other wards.
If officers decide to refuse permission for this application, we would expect them to do so without referring it to the Planning Sub-committee. If they are minded to approve it, they will have to refer it to the Planning Sub-committee. This is unlikely to happen before 10 October 2012. At this stage they will present their case to the impartial councillors on the Sub-committee.
At this point, all the public objectors who have registered to speak, have five minutes to share amongst themselves to present their case. That's a total of five minutes for all objections. In addition, local ward councillors who are not on the Planning Sub-committee are normally given an additional five minutes each to represent the views of their constituents. This is the only way the elected Councillors can participate in the planning process. 
The eight local Councillors who will not sit on Planning Sub-committee for this appliction are:

Stoke Newington Central: Cllr Louisa Thomson (Labour), Cllr Rita Krishna (Labour), Cllr Susan Fajana-Thomas* (Labour)

Lordship Ward: Cllr Daniel Stevens (Labour), Cllr Edward Brown (Labour), Cllr Bernard Aussenberg (Conservative)

Cazenove Ward: Cllr Dawood Akhoon* (Liberal Democrat), Cllr Abraham Jacobson* (Liberal Democrat) [on leave till end Aug]

* Cllr Fajana-Thomas normally sits on the Planning Sub-committee, Cllrs Akhoon and Jacobson are substitutes. All three have already declared an interest and will not sit on this matter, so may be approached to represent your views at the Planning Sub-committee or to answer questions on the process and their involvement in it.

If you work or live in another ward, check this list on the Hackney website to determine your local councillor, but check under the 'Committee Appointments' heading to see if they sit on the Planning Sub-committee, or against this list. If they do, either contact another ward councillor or ask them if they will be sitting on this matter before you present your views.

Some useful links


Stoke Newington Basket Comparison Results: Sainsbury’s not the cheap option

At the end of 2011, one of the Stokey Local working groups conducted some surveys of shops. The first of these was the basket comparison which compared the costs of Sainsbury's against a range of local independent shops as well as Tesco and Morrisons.

In the majority of cases (17 out of 25 items) local shops provide a cheaper option than Sainsbury's, there was similar pricing for 2 out of 25 items and for 5 items local shops do not provide a cheaper alternative to Sainsburys. In the 5 cases where Sainsbury's was cheaper than local shops, Tesco or Morrisons provided a cheaper option than Sainsbury's. 

This survey showed quite clearly that Sainsbury's do not offer the cheapest food options, something that runs counter to the image created in their advertising. Once again we strongly encourage the people of Stoke Newignton to support their local shops not just because they make Stoke Newington a more interesting place to live, but because they offer good quality food at very competitive prices. 

The summary results of the basket comparison survey are below and more detailed information about the prices can be found here. We will also be publishing the results of a survey of local shopkeepers soon. Our thanks go to Lucy for organising these surveys.

Costs of Sainsburys items compared to local shops, and Tesco and Morrisons

Bread – Similar pricing.

Tomatoes (loose)  – Consistently cheaper in local shops.

Organic potatoes, organic spinach and organic red onions – Not widely available in local shops. However the organic farmers market is considerably cheaper on potatoes and spinach, and the same price for onions.

Fairy liquid  – Similar pricing.

Disposable razors – Similar pricing.

Smoked haddock and fresh sardines – Slightly more expensive in local shops. Tescos provides cheaper smoked haddock.

Butter – For leading brand Kerrygold Sainburys is cheaper. For other brands, local shops can provide cheaper options.

Rice – Sainsburys is cheaper than the local shops, but Morrisons is even cheaper.

Eggs (Free Range) – Local shops are considerably cheaper.

Eggs (not Free Range) – Sainsburys is cheaper than the local shops, but not as cheap as Morrisons.

Chickpeas (own brand) – Local shops are consistently cheaper than Sainsburys.

Tinned tomatoes – Local shops are consistently cheaper than Sainsburys.

Nappies (Pampers Babydry 22) – Local shops are consistently cheaper than Sainsburys, as are Morrisons.

Toilet (Roll x 4) – Local shops are consistently cheaper than Sainsburys, as are Morrisons and Tescos.

Feta (200g) – Local shops are more expensive, but Morrisons and Tescos are cheaper.

Yoghurt (500g plain) – Local shops tend to be the same price or cheaper.

Tea (Yorkshire 80 bags, and own brand 80 bags) – Local shops are consistently cheaper than Sainsburys, as are Morrisons and Tescos.

Milk – Available cheaper in Morrisons, and at least two local shops.

Bananas (per kilo) – Slightly more expensive at local shops

Stella (4 pack) – Considerably cheaper at local shops and at Morrisons and Tescos

Bacon (per kilo) – Local shops are slightly more expensive, Tescos and Morrisons are cheaper.

Chicken breast fillet (per kilo) – The local butcher is cheaper, as is Tescos and Morrisons.

Apples – Cheaper at Tescos and Morrisons, and considerably cheaper at many local shops

Mint (bunch) – Considerably cheaper at local shops.

Parsley (bunch) – Considerably cheaper at local shops.

Red Pepper (per kilo) – Considerably cheaper at local shops.


Planning application submitted on 13th July

On 13th July the developers submitted a planning application to Hackney Council's Planning Office. Stokey Local became aware of the existence of the application on 18th July. 

There will be a delay between submitting the application and it appearing on the Hackney planning website as it has to be validated before it is made public. This process is quite normal and often takes a few weeks for more complex applications such as this one. So far no documents have been posted on the Hackney planning website. 

We will keep you up to date with developments as the application progresses and will be providing information which will help you to make a submission to the planning office. 

The best way to stay in touch is to sign up to our mailing list at the top of the right hand side of this page.

Update from Local Councillors

Later today we will be posting a summary of the public meeting which was held last night, but in the meantime here is a repost (copied in full from We Love Stoke Newington and LordshipN16) of an update from the local councillors involved in discussions with the developer.

The post goes into some detail about their concerns with the proposal:


This is cross posted on the Lordship Labour councillorsblog as we are working together over this important local issue. 
By now many of you will have seen the latest proposals to develop Wilmer Place, either at the recent exhibition or on the developer’s website

While we have been pleased that many of the issues we raised last year have been taken on board, there are still a number of important issues and concerns that we want to see addressed.These are:

1.    Ensuring the maximum provision of affordable housing;
2.    Offering the best possible employment opportunities for local people;
3.    Reducing the impact of the development on Abney Park and the Stoke Newington Conservation Area;
4.    Offering support for the tenants of Wilmer Place who face eviction as a result of the development;
5.    Providing support to local businesses that may be affected by the opening of a new Sainsbury’s store; and 
6.    Limiting the access delivery vehicles will have to Wilmer Place.

We will be working on these issues throughout the planning process to ensure that it achieves the best possible outcome for the residents and businesses of Stoke Newington. A formal planning application for the development is still expected towards the end of June.

We have provided further information on each of the issues set out above.

1. Affordable Housing

You will be aware that the proposal is for a mixed residential and commercial development. 

Whereas the size of the proposed Sainsbury’s store has been reduced from 24,000 square foot to 16,000 square foot, the overall bulk of the building has not changed. The additional space made available by having a smaller store will be used to provide more flats. 

It is currently proposed that the development will include 68 flats in total (14×1, 33×2 & 21×3 beds) – this is an increase from 44 flats in the original plans. A critical issue that is yet to be resolved is the proportion of this that will be ‘affordable.’

For all developments comprising 10 residential units or more Hackney has a borough-wide target requiring 50% of all units to be ‘affordable’. This should include a mix of three-bedroom (or larger) family housing.

Like any development, the precise number of ‘affordable’ homes is subject to negotiation. This will take into account issues such as site characteristics, location and the overall scheme viability. Negotiations can also go beyond housing and consider other social contributions such as investment in youth facilities, public realm or transport.

In terms of what is meant by ‘affordable,’ the Coalition Government recently introduced an ‘Affordable Rent model’ that allows rents to be charged up to a maximum of 80% of the market price. This is important because 80% of market rent is considered to fall within the definition of affordable housing for planning purposes.

As market rents are particularly high in Hackney the Council recently published guidelines for affordability levels for different bedroom sizes, which you can access here. This also states that the mix of ‘affordable’ homes in new developments should be a minimim of 25% social rent and 75% affordable (40% of which should be ‘intermediate’ as defined on page 95 of the London Plan).

We will be calling for the highest number of ‘affordable’ homes as possible – and for as many of these as possible to be made available for social rent. 

2. Local Employment Opportunities
Sainsbury’s has estimated that the proposed store would create up to 150 new jobs. However, it has not been clear whether this is the total number of individual jobs, or the total number of full time equivalent jobs.

We think that if the development is approved, as many of these jobs as possible should be offered to local people. We also think that there is a valuable opportunity to provide local jobs during the construction phase. 

The provision of local labour and construction is one of a number of ‘Planning Contributions’ (like affordable housing) that will be negotiated and agreed as part of the planning process. 

We are pleased that Sainsbury’s has committed to a “local labour agreement” – a written commitments between employers, investors or developers and Councils to recruit and train residents from a particular local area for some or all jobs. 

We will be calling for this agreement to include the maximum number of jobs as possible for local people.

3. Abney Park and the Stoke Newington Conservation Area

One of the main concerns we have with the development from the start is its potentialimpact on Abney Park and the Stoke Newington Conversation Area.

The Stoke Newington Conservation Area was designated in 1983 and extends from the Clissold Park Conservation Area along Church Street and includes substantial parts of the High Street as well as the whole of Abney Park Cemetery. A map of the Conservation Area is available on page 83 of the Appraisal document.

The Stoke Newington Conservation Area Appraisal provides supporting information to a number of planning policies including Hackney’s Core Strategy Policy 25 on the Historic Environment (page 128 of the Council’s Core Strategy). 

When determining whether a planning application complies with Policy 25, the Council will be guided by Sections 7.10 and 7.11 of the Appraisal.

Section 7.10 of the Appraisal concerns ‘New Development’ and states that “the opportunities for new development in the Conservation Area are very limited because of the intensely built-up nature of the townscape.” Where new development is to be carried out, it should follow a number of key principles, including:
•    Respecting the scale, massing and height of the surrounding historic properties
•    Reflecting the existing details and materials of the historic buildings in the surrounding area

Section 7.11 concerns ‘Setting and views into and out of the Conservation Area’ and highlights the importance of maintaining views from Stoke Newington Church Street and Stoke Newington High Street, as well as views out of Abney Park Cemetery. 

It states that “views must be preserved by not allowing new development which is too dominant or obtrusive” and sets out a number of principles that should be followed, including:

•    Not encroaching on the setting of Abney Park Cemetery by careful attention to scale, bulk and siting
•    New development around Abney Park Cemetery must be carefully sited so as not to interrupt existing views and skylines
•    Respecting the scale and density of existing buildings
•    New development around Abney Park Cemetery should not generate noise or other disturbance to the Cemetery
•    Preserving the existing domestic character of the surrounding buildings

We will be calling for the Stoke Newington Conservation Area Appraisal to be considered in full as part of the planning process and for the impact on Abney Park to be minimised.

4. Support for the Existing Tenants of Wilmer Place

Wilmer Place has been earmarked for development for some time. As a result the existing properties on the site have always been leased on a short term basis. 

However, now that a planning application is imminent it appears that little is being done to help the people who face losing their homes and places of work.

We will be calling on the developer and/or Sainsbury’s to offer to support the relocation of the existing tenants of Wilmer Place.

5. Support for Local Business 

Hackney planning policy states that the Council should encourage a diverse range of developments within its major and district centres, including Stoke Newington. These developments are required to enhance the environmental quality of the area and to resist the loss of shops. 

Stoke Newington is home to a successful and diverse independent retail and evening economy, which is complemented by more affordable provision on the High Street. 

We know that there are a range of views about the impact the Sainsbury’s store could have on the local economy – both positive and negative. We will be calling on Sainsbury’s to offer support to those local shops that could lose business as result of a new retail store opening on the High Street. 

6. Vehicle Access to Wilmer Place

Sainsbury’s has committed to making fewer deliveries to the store than originally planned. Furthermore, the size of delivery vehicle will be limited to a maximum of 11 metres. 

While both of these commitments are welcome, the reality is that Sainsbury’s and Newmark Properties can only regulate vehicle use on the part of the site that they own. Any restrictions on the use of Wilmer Place itself – as a through road to the delivery area – will have to be agreed by the Council and dealt with through the planning process.

We will be calling for these restrictions to be included as a condition of planning approval. We will also call for a condition that requires delivery vehicles to turn off their engines if and when they have to wait on Wilmer Place. 

Next Steps

Once the application has been submitted there will be a 21 day consultation period during which residents can submit comments (more info here). Following consultation it is likely that the application will be referred to the Planning sub-Committee for determination. 

We will be supporting residents throughout this process and will shortly post guidance on how to comment most effectively. We will also email all of those that signed our petition last year which successfully called for further public consultation on the proposals. If you would like to receive this, please email us. 

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