Going Back In Time: 1999 Wilmer Place Planning Brief

There has been some discussion of the council’s views on the land at Wilmer Place in terms of how it should be developed. Initially it was thought that the land had been zoned for retail and housing and that this was the only option, however there appears to be a lot more to it than that.

Taking a look at the 1999 planning brief for Wilmer Place we find some interesting points in relation to this development. This document “has been the subject of public consultation and has been approved by a resolution at Committee and therefore is considered by this Council as a material consideration in the preparation of development proposals and determination of planning applications for this site.”

The developer has adopted a couple of the recommendations in the planning brief (retaining the car park and having a mixed use development) but there are other important which appear to have been ignored, for example:

  • “The most sensitive part of the site is that facing Abney Park Cemetery where the scale of any development should be lower and quality of design very high.”
  • “To achieve a high quality of design of any new development proposal that preserves or enhances the Conservation Area and the setting of Abney Park Cemetery.”
  • “Redevelopment of properties including demolition is unlikely to be granted planning permission and Conservation Area Consent”
  • “The development of the eastern side of this area should include uses that are compatible with, and strengthen the commercial future of, the town centre. These include retail, office, community, arts, culture and entertainment activities.”

I can see nothing in the design that suggests that it is sensitive to the proximity of Abney Park – the rear elevations of the development, closest to Abney Park, appear to be the highest parts and would overshadow the entrance to the park.

Furthermore the destruction of properties lying within the Conservation Area seems to fly in the face of the second and third point given above and were the reason for the rejection of a planning application in 2009 (post coming on that soon).

Finally I’m yet to find any evidence that the development of a large supermarket is “compatible with” or could “strengthen the commercial future of” Stoke Newington and the fear which is shared by most people in this campaign is that it would do the complete opposite.

Large supermarkets suck money out of communities and there are many cases around the country of these developments destroying formerly thriving, characterful shopping streets. Independent, locally owned shops on the other hand keep a much greater proportion of the money spent in their businesses revolving within the community because they make greater use of local services and the profits don’t get funnelled off to remote head offices and shareholders.

This Planning Brief is expected to be replaced by the Site Allocation Consultation in 2012, and while it is an old document, it is the most recent document we have which outlines the views of Hackney Council.

Crucially, little has changed in Stoke Newington to invalidate those comments highlighted above. What has changed in the meantime is that the local area has acquired four more supermarkets. If additional retail facilities are to be included in a design, surely yet another supermarket isn’t the sort of retail facility that is needed or that would benefit the area?

In forthcoming posts I will discuss a piece of research conducted for Hackney Council in 2005 as well as the 2009 planning application.

As ever, please feel free to add your  thoughts in the comments below.