The developer has been keen to emphasise that it has been designated for retail – which is being used to justify his case for a new Sainsbury’s store on the site.
However, this is inaccurate and misleading – as many of you have picked up on already. The Council’s planning documents designate the site as suitable for a range of developments – of which retail is one.
We’ve done a summary below which hopefully helps to clarify what will be taken into account when considering any planning application for Wilmer Place. Our colleagues in Lordship ward have also done a similar post on this issue.
The Unitary Development Plan
- Unitary Development Plans were produced by local authorities setting out a local plan for the area
- In the Unitary Development Plan from 1995 Stoke Newington was identified as a town centre and main shopping area and a ‘focal point for the more general commercial, leisure, community and art and cultural facilities for the Borough’ (Proposal 293)
- In 1999 a planning brief was adopted by the Council for the Wilmer Place site to encourage ‘high quality, mixed use, sustainable development’ that ‘are compatible with, and strengthen the commercial future of the town centre’. Some of the uses identified were ‘retail, community or cultural facilities along with some residential’
- In 2004, a new planning system was introduced by the Government. UDPs were replaced with Local Development Frameworks (LDF). In the broadest sense, this is the Council’s overarching development plan which set out how the planning system will shape the local area going forward. It sits alongside a Regional Spatial Strategy – in Hackney’s case the Mayor of London’s London Plan.
- When it is completed in full, the LDF will consist of a series of more detailed planning documents
- One of the main documents in Local Development Frameworks is the Core Strategy. This sets out a long term vision for future development in Hackney and was adopted in December 2010.
- In the Core Strategy Stoke Newington is designated as a district centre (as opposed to a major town centre like Dalston). This policy states that the Council will promote and encourage development of retail, office, community, leisure, entertainment facilities, recreation uses, arts, culture and tourism activities within its major and district centres
- Although the terminology has changed between the Core Strategy and the UDP for Stoke Newington (Town Centre/District Centre) the status remains the same.
- The Core Strategy also states that the Council will encourage diversity of those uses outlined above; enhanced the environmental quality of the areas and resist the loss of shops.
- Local Development Frameworks have to be based on strong evidence. So when the Council was drawing up its LDF it commissioned various studies.
- The 2005 Retail and Leisure Study that has been referred to was part of this process.
- The study identified land at Wilmer place as ‘suitable for retail and leisure uses’
- Although the 1999 Planning brief is now 12 years old – it still reflects current Council policy on land use for this site (apart from the reference to car parking as the Council no longer requires the same level of car and cycle parking provision)
- Any planning application on the Wilmer Place site would therefore have to be assessed against the 1999 Planning Brief, the Core Strategy policy and Proposal 293 in the 1995 UDP.
- Other relevant Council policies include the 2004 Stoke Newington Conservation Area Appraisal – this identified the need to improve the car park at Wilmer Place
- Other material conditions include impact on Abney Park Cemetery and other adjacent listed buildings and structures, impact on amenity, access to and from the site and sustainability
So what would you prefer to see on Wilmer Place instead? What kind of development would bring wider benefits for residents and businesses in Stoke Newington?
A quick note on Site Allocations Development Plan Documents
Some of you have asked us about the Site Allocations Development Plan. There is more on this here. Work on Site Allocations Development Plan Document (SADPD) which will provide site specific policies for a number of key strategic sites in Hackney started last year. The first stage was to advertise a ’call for sites’. Wilmer Place was one of the sites proposed.
However – this process is still at a very early stage and is a lengthy one. Consultation documents on the proposed sites are not due to go out until early 2012. Any final document would not be adopted until late 2013.
Given that the developer plans to submit a planning application imminently, the SADPD won’t be used to assess and determine any application for Wilmer Place.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions about any of this.