We Love Stoke Newington is for residents living in the local area providing updates about local meetings, campaigns and useful information. This site is maintained by your local Labour team for Stoke Newington.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Wilmer Place update - why no Environmental Impact Assessment?

Some of you will have seen this already but our colleagues in Lordship ward have done a helpful post regarding the Environmental Impact Assessment issue for Wilmer Place. We've pasted their post below - please do contact us if you have any questions.

Environmental Impact Assessment:

Many of you will be aware that an Environmental Impact Assessment is not being conducted into the proposed Sainsbury’s development at Wilmer Place.

We thought it would be helpful to set out why and, most importantly, to highlight that although an Environmental Impact Assessment is not required, the developer will still have submit detailed surveys and assessments to demonstrate that the proposal would not have a detrimental impact on the environment.

The circumstances, and procedures, for carrying out an EIA are set out in national legislation. This states that all large scale developments – such as oil-refineries – are required to carry out an EIA.

For smaller developments an EIA is only required if they:
- Are located wholly or partly in a sensitive area (national parks, scheduled monuments, World - - Heritage sites etc); and/or
- Exceed one of the thresholds set out in legislation.

With regards to the latter, the legislation states that projects on sites over 0.5 hectares may require an EIA to be carried out.

The proposed Wilmer Place development is 0.51 hectares.

Having determined that a development exceeds one of the thresholds; national guidance advises local authorities to assess whether the development will have a “significant environmental impact” before determining if an EIA is required.

To do this, a local authority has to consider three key criteria:
- Characteristics of development (size, use of natural resources, production of waste, pollution and nuisances and risk of accidents);
- The environmental sensitivity of the development;
- The characteristics of the potential impact (extent, magnitude, probability, duration, frequency and reversibility).

There are also three additional cases where the Secretary of State has indicated that an EIA is required on smaller developments. These are:
a. Major developments of more than local importance
b. Developments which are proposed for particularly environmentally sensitive or vulnerable locations; and/or
c. Developments with unusually complex and potentially hazardous environmental effects.

In respect of point a. the Wilmer Place proposal is not considered to be more than local importance. In terms of b. and c. the proposal does not lie within an environmentally sensitive area as defined in legislation, nor does its operation involve unusually complex and potentially hazardous environmental effects.

The site does, of course, sit within the Stoke Newington Conservation Area with No’s 193 – 201 Stoke Newington High Street forming part of a longer terrace of properties recognised as being of ‘Townscape Merit’ and 183 – 187, 189 and 191 Stoke Newington High Street being all GradeII*Listed.

Despite this, it is still not considered that the proposal triggers any of the criteria set out above.

Overall is it judged that by reason of its nature, size, or location, the Wilmer Place development is not likely to have a significant effect on the local environment. Therefore, an EIA is not required to be submitted together with the planning application.

It is important to note that, as aforementioned, this does not mean that the developer can ignore environmental issues. They will still have to submit detailed surveys and assessments to demonstrate that the proposal would not have a detrimental impact on the environment.

These include:
- Design and Access Statement,
- Planning Statement,
- Townscape and Visual Impact Assessment,
- Daylight / Sunlight Assessment,
- Ecological Survey,
- Sustainability Statement,
- Renewable Energy Statement,
- Code For Sustainable Homes / BREEAM pre-assessment reports,
- Heritage Statement,
- Air Quality Assessment,
- PPG24 Noise Assessment,
- Transport Statement,
- Retail Impact Assessment,
- Affordable Housing Statement,
- Financial Viability Appraisal / Three Dragons Toolkit Appraisal, and
- Contaminated Land Desktop Study report.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Cycle pit stop - this Thursday

There's a free cycle pit stop organised by the Council happening tomorrow (Thurs 28th July) from 4-7pm at the Palatine Road/Wordsworth Road junction next to Butterfield Green.

You can get a free bicycle health check and expert advice on maintenance, cycle routes, cycling safely, how to keep cycling through the winter and bicycle security.

You can make your bike last longer by checking it regularly. Regular checks are simple, low cost and keep your bike in a roadworthy condition to prevent unexpected and potentially dangerous incidents.

Here are some tips, and links to local services that can help you:

  • Check your brakes, tyres, lights and steering are in good working order.
  • Make sure your bike is the right size for you.
  • Keep your bike chain well oiled to ensure smooth gear changes. A squeaky chain is a sure sign that oil is needed.
  • More tips are on the London Cycling Campaign website

Monday, 25 July 2011

One Movement Festival - this Saturday

The One Movement festival is taking place in Clissold Park this Saturday 30 July, 1-5pm.

This is aimed at young people in Hackney and their families and is part of a wider programme called In the Parks aiming to increase sporting participation amongst young people living in the five Olympic host boroughs.

Sports on offer will include gymnastics, badminton, judo, cricket and rowing, with performances from urban artists including Griminal and Mz Bratt. Tinie Tempah tickets can be won on the hour, every hour throughout the day, alongside other prizes.

To find out more visit www.facebook.com/OneMovementEastLondon, where you also get the chance to win more Tinie Tempah tickets just for liking the page! All young people under 15 will need to bring a signed consent form on the day, which they can download from the Facebook site. For more information on the Hackney event, call Bisi Alao on 020 7068 6960.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wilmer place update: Town Hall question

We raised the issue of the proposed development at Wilmer Place at last night’s Full Council.

Stoke Newington councillors do not support the current plans and are working alongside local residents to try and persuade the developer to address residents’ concerns – before a planning application is submitted.

The question we asked at Full Council was:
‘Residents in Stoke Newington are concerned about a large Sainsburys that is planned for our ward. The concerns are varied - traffic, road safety, and the impact on local shops. What influence does the Council have in such matters and what reassurance can the Council offer concerned residents?’

Cllr Guy Nicholson, the Cabinet member for Regeneration and the Olympic Games, responded to the question by outlining the different council policies that have would have to be taken into account when considering any future planning application for Wilmer Place. These are quite detailed so we’ve covered this in a longer post here.

In short, he stated that any application has to be relevant to any future growth of Stoke Newington as a district centre in Hackney - this was not an endorsement of the proposed development by Hackney Labour as some people were claiming on twitter last night. He was stating factually what the current policies are in relation to this site.

He also stressed that:
  • planning policy will be applied to any application that comes forward
  • there will have to be a thorough assessment of traffic, transportation, sustainability as with all major applications
  • As no application has been submitted yet, it was incumbent on the developer to engage with local residents over his plans.
Louisa asked a follow up question which was: Will the Cabinet member support local ward councillors who are writing to the developer and Sainsbury’s to invite them back to Stoke Newington to a public meeting to come and answer questions from residents about their plans?

Cllr Nicholson was in support of this approach – and said that residents needed to hear from Sainsbury’s how they think their plans contribute to the local economy.

We believe that the developer and Sainsbury’s need to come and meet with residents again so that we have the chance to question and challenge their claims and ask for more explanation about their plans.

They have been suspiciously silent since the drop in sessions at the beginning of July.

Wilmer place update: land use

Another issue that has been raised in relation to the Wilmer Place development is the Council’s land use policy for the site.

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)
Planning Brief for Wilmer Place
  • 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’
Local Development Framework
  • 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.
The Retail and Leisure Study 2005
  • 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’
Now the important bit: what status does all have?
  • 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
The main point is retail is not the only possible use. There are a range of possible uses suggested in the policies above.

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.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

More good park news! West Hackney Recreation Ground....

West Hackney Recreation Ground has been awarded over £45k in development funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This means that a partnership of West Hackney Parochial Charity, the Council and Groundwork and local residents will work together to develop a second stage application for £639,000 to renovate the park.

The project plans for West Hackney Recreation Ground are to re-integrate the three key spaces of the site; the recreation ground, St Paul's burial ground and the churchyard. Activities will include stabilising headstones. a new play area, recreating the original planting designs as well as increasing community involvement in the site through new volunteering opportunities and local school visits.

This 2nd stage application will be submitted in February 2012 and HLF will make a final decision in June 2012.

This is great news for everyone who has been involved with the project so far - particularly Reverend Niall Weir from St Paul's Church. It will provide a much needed open space in this part of Stoke Newington and local residents have already shown a lot of support for the plans.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Wilmer Place update: the role of councillors

At the Hackney Unites public meeting on Weds 13th July, quite a few questions were asked about the role and influence of councillors over the proposed Wilmer Place development.

We thought it would be helpful to clarify this and clear up a few myths!
  • councillors who are NOT on the planning committee are able to work with residents and represent their concerns over planning applications.

  • You may have heard about ‘the group whip’ and councillors in a political party voting together on policy issues. This does not apply to planning (this is enshrined in law) and it does not apply to individual local ward issues.
What this means for us:
  • Louisa and Rita are not on the planning committee. Susan is a substitute member of the committee (so only sits on the committee when there are not enough members which is rare)

  • As ward councillors for Stoke Newington Central, we can support and represent residents in their objections over the Wilmer Place development and actively campaign around this.

  • This is why we were at the meeting on Wednesday, previous Stokey Local meetings and have been publishing our concerns on this blog. We don’t support the current development and like you, we care passionately about the future of our local area.

  • We want to work with the existing community campaign as it is important to all stick together rather than replicating campaigns.
The Planning committee

Although it is important to remember at this point that no application has been submitted, there were a number of questions at the meeting about the role of the Planning Committee:
  • the planning committee is a quasi-judicial process. Councillors on the planning committee are not representing their political parties or their wards. This means that planning committee members cannot get involved in campaigns or give a view on applications. They have to approach their decision with an open mind and without prejudicial interest. Again – this is planning law, and not unique to Hackney

  • Councillors on the planning committee may decide not to sit on the committee hearing a particular application – this could be because the application is in their ward and they’ve been in correspondence and involved with residents over it, and therefore could be accused of having a prejudicial interest if they were to sit on the committee. Again – this is not uncommon and part of the Code of Conduct for all councillors.

  • There is a fuller explanation of this in front of every planning sub committee agenda – see here for a recent one.

  • The list of Planning committee members is here
What this means for us:
  • Once a planning application has gone in, we will work with you and provide advice to residents on how to make representations (as well as making our own!). There is also a detailed leaflet about having your say on planning applications here

  • We have a formal role at the actual planning committee meeting (should this application get that far) and can speak on behalf of residents who are objecting. We have done this on previous applications in our ward, and it is a common role that councillors undertake as part of their ward work.
We hope this helps to clarify our role – please do contact us if you have any questions.

Kynaston Gardens funding success!

Some very good news this week - Community Spaces have awarded nearly £50,000 to improve Kynaston Gardens.

The Friends of Kynaston Gardens have been working hard on this over the past year and it's fantastic that the scheme has been given the go ahead.

The plan for the Gardens can be downloaded here. It includes community planters, play features and a much improved Gardens overall!

Groundwork charity have drawn up these plans with the Friends of Kynaston Gardens and support from Hackney Council following the resident consultation last year.

Now the hard work starts!

If you're interested in getting involved, please email kynastongardens@gmail.com. There will be a meeting in early September to discuss the next steps of the project.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Borough of Sanctuary garden party

Hackney Borough of Sanctuary are having a Summer Garden Party tomorrow - Friday 15th July from 6-8pm.

It's taking place at the Curve Garden on Dalston Lane (entrance by the famous peace mural, opposite Dalston Junction Station)

Come along to hear about how things are proceeding and to share in some light food, drinks and music.

City of Sanctuary is a movement of local people and community groups across the UK who want our towns, cities and boroughs to welcome all people seeking sanctuary from war, poverty and persecution.

To find out more go to

Monday, 4 July 2011

Support your local High Street

Today is Independents' Day - a campaign to support local independent retailers and celebrate diversity on the high street.

There is more information here - but the main aim for today is to encourage people to buy at least one item from a local independent retailer.

This is particularly timely for us in Stoke Newington in light of the Sainsbury's proposals.

So make sure you support our local shops on Stoke Newington High Street and Church Street and show them how much the local community values them!