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.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Wilmer Place: planning and the role of councillors

As you are no doubt aware, the planning application for the Wilmer Place has now been submitted. However, the application has not been validated yet so there are no documents or details for us to see. 



During the validation process the Council is required to check that the application contains all the information necessary to make a decision. We expect that this will take a few weeks from the date the application was submitted, after which the application will be published online and the 21 day consultation period starts. We will let you know as soon as this happens.



Over the past months a lot of people have asked us about the role of ward councillors in the planning process. We thought it would be useful to summarise this before the validation process has been completed:


  • Only a small number of applications are actually decided by the planning committee. Applications come to Planning Committee only if officers recommend permission is granted. They have delegated powers to refuse without reference to the Committee. Applications are usually referred to the planning committee if they are for large developments or - for various reasons - are complex. It is very likely that this particular application will be referred to committee.
  • Planning sub-committee is quasi-judicial process. The sub-committee comprises of just nine (+ 6 substitutes) of Hackney's 57 elected Councillors.
  • 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. 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. 


  • Councillors not on the planning committee won't have any say in the final decision.

  • What this means in Stoke Newington Central: Rita and Louisa are not on theplanning committee. Susan is on the committee, but as we have all been actively involved in raising our concerns with the proposed development and working with local residents on the issue, she will not sit on the planning committee meeting where any Wilmer Place application would be considered

  • Ward Councillors can however support and represent residents in their objections.
  • We can also have a formal role at the actual planning committee meeting (should this application get that far) and can speak on behalf of residents. 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 will work out between us what the best way is to effectively use the time allocated to councillors at the committee hearing.


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

  • As the planning application has now gone in, we will be making our own representation on the application outlining the planning concerns that we have been raising in recent months.



  • Once the application has been published online we will also circulate a briefing to local residents to help guide them when commenting on the application. This will summarise the planning system in Hackney, and identifies some of the key policy areas that you may wish to consider when preparing your response. Please email us if this would be useful.

    



Tuesday, 17 July 2012

One Hackney Festival


This weekend is the One Hackney Festival - and Stoke Newington has a starring role!
 
The parade starts at 10.30am on Pitfield Street, and will arrive in Stoke Newington three hours later


The Parade will feature 15 floats, including six "soundscapes", which together tell the story of Hackney. Joining local DJs and musicians, is a 35-strong troupe of top musicians from Brazil, who are coming over specially to take part in the Parade.
 
There will also be plenty of entertainment throughout the borough until the arrival of the Olympic Torch at Shoreditch at 15.54.
 
As you will have seen, the planned event at Clissold Park will no longer take place as the event site is waterlogged and has been deemed unsafe. Anyone who booked tickets for this event is being contacted. The Parade will run as planned along the same 2.8 mile route, and ends in Stoke Newington. There will be some extra pop-up surprises around the borough during the day which will be announced this week - we'll keep you posted!
 
For more details about the One Hackney Festival see www.hackney.gov.uk/one-festival.



Friday, 13 July 2012

Wilmer Place: local employment opportunities


Following yesterday's letter on housing, Labour Councillors in Stoke Newington Central, Lordship and Clissold wards have today written an open letter to Sainsbury's calling on the company to maximise employment and training opportunities for local residents and to set what support they will offer to local business if the proposed development at Wilmer Place goes ahead.

Below is a copy of the text of the letter that has been sent.

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.

If the development is approved, we want to see as many of these jobs as possible 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” which is a written commitment between employers, investors or developers and Councils to recruit and train residents from a particular local area for some or all jobs. The letter calls for this agreement to include a commitment for Sainsbury's to provide the maximum number of jobs as possible for local people.

Copy of the Letter to Sainsbury's:

13 July 2012

Dear Mr King,

RE: Proposed Development of Wilmer Place, Stoke Newington

Following the second public display of the plans for the Wilmer Place development we are pleased that many of the issues we raised last year have been taken on board. However, there are still a number of important issues and concerns that we would like to see addressed.

1. Local Employment Opportunities
At the public exhibition it was estimated that the proposed new Sainsbury’s store in Stoke Newington would create up to 150 new jobs. However, it is still not clear whether this is the total number of individual jobs, or the total number of full time equivalent jobs.

We are pleased that Sainsbury’s has committed to a local labour agreement - a written commitment between employers, investors or developers and Councils to recruit and train residents from a particular local area for some or all jobs. Whilst we are aware that negotiations around this will form part of the planning process, we want to stress the importance of this agreement including the maximum number of jobs as possible for local people. It would also be helpful if you could set out what training and development opportunities will be available and how you will ensure that these are offered to local people.

Furthermore, we think that there is a valuable opportunity to provide local jobs and training opportunities during the construction phase. We urge you and the developer, Newmark Properties, to ensure that this opportunity is made available to Stoke Newington residents.

2. 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.

As you know, 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 would like more detail from you on what assessment you have made of the impact your new store will have on local businesses, and what support you can give to local shops in Stoke Newington who could lose potentially lose business as a result of the new store.

We look forward to receiving your response on these two issues.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Wilmer Place and affordable housing


Labour Councillors in  Stoke Newington Central, Lordship and Clissold wards have today written an open letter to Newmark Properties calling for the proposed development at Wilmer Place to include the highest number of ‘affordable’ homes as possible. The letter also calls on Newmark to clarify what action they will be taking to support the existing tenants of Wilmer Place who face losing their homes and places of work if the proposed development goes ahead.

Below is a copy of the text of the letter that has been sent.

You will be aware that the developer is proposing a mixed residential and commercial development. At the recent public exhibition is was proposed that the development would consist of 68 flats (14x1, 33x2 & 21x3 beds) – 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. In the letter we call for the Wilmer Place development to include the highest number of ‘affordable’ homes as possible - and for as many of these as possible to be made available for social rent.

Copy of the Letter to Newmark Properties:

11 July 2012

Dear Mr Cohen,

RE: Proposed Development of Wilmer Place, Stoke Newington

Following the second public display of the plans for the Wilmer Place development we are pleased that many of the issues we raised last year have been taken on board. However, there are still a number of important issues and concerns that we would like to see addressed, in particular around affordable housing.

From the plans that were on display, we understand that the current proposal is for the development to include 68 flats in total (14x1, 33x2 & 21x3 beds). However, a critical issue that is yet to be resolved is the proportion of this that is proposed as ‘affordable.’

Given the high level of market rents in Hackney, and the demand for affordable housing – particularly family sized, it is important that any new development on Wilmer Place recognises and seeks to meet this need. We would welcome more detail from you on what you are proposing is the breakdown of affordable housing for this scheme – in particular the numbers of units for social rent, ‘affordable’ rent and shared ownership.

Hackney Council’s guidelines are that for all developments comprising 10 residential units or more 50% of these should be ‘affordable’. This should include a mix of three-bedroom (or larger) family housing.  The Council has also published guidance stating that the mix of ‘affordable’ homes in new developments should be a minimum of 25% social rent and 75% affordable (40% of which should be ‘intermediate’).

You will be aware that the Government’s Affordable Rent Model allows rents to be charged up to a maximum of 80% of the market price. This 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 on the levels of ‘affordable rents’ in the Borough: up to 70% of local market rents for a 1 bed property; up to 60% of local market rents for 2 beds; up to 50% of local market rents for 3 beds; and up to 50% of local market rents for 4 beds.

Given the shortage of affordable housing in our area, if the development goes ahead we urge you to ensure that the highest number of affordable homes possible is achieved in this development, and that the as many of these as possible are available for social rent level rather than the ‘affordable’ rent model. We are aware that these issues will be subject to detailed negotiations between you, a partner housing association and the Council, but we want to stress the importance of the local targets set out above.

The second issue we would like to raise with you regards support for existing tenants of Wilmer Place. We are aware that 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 would like you to outline what help and support will be given to existing tenants of Wilmer Place, if your proposed development goes ahead, and how you intend to handle this process in terms of notice, compensation and support for relocation.

We look forward to hearing from you soon.



Monday, 2 July 2012

Launch of Stoke Newington Ward Forum


The very first ward forum for Stoke Newington Central ward will take place on Tuesday 10th July at 7pm in Yorkshire Grove Community Hall, Gunstor Road.

The idea behind the new ward forums is that local residents and councillors will work together to identify priorities for improving our area.

We have immense pride in Stoke Newington, and the energy and commitment of all the fantastic, talented people who live and work here. We want to stimulate a discussion about how we can work together, what we should prioritise, and how we can all achieve positive things for our area.

The first meeting will loosely be themed around ‘public and open space’, but we want to give everyone the opportunity to meet, discuss their ideas and come up with a plan for what to do next! 


The Stoke Newington Central Ward Forum will not be a typical Council meeting and we're not aiming for it to address individual problems and casework issues as we can deal with these through our advice surgeries, walkabout surgeries and regular contact with residents by phone and email. Instead we think its an exciting opportunity to bring people together to make a positive difference to the ward.

There are lots of possibilities, but it needs to be guided by you so please do spread the word to anyone else who might be interested, and we look forward to seeing you on 10th July!