Councillors Report – July 2007
Kings Crescent The regeneration of the estate took a major step forward with the steering group holding two open days to consult residents on the initial proposals. All three councillors attended the opening with Deputy Mayor Jamie Carswell, and stayed for most of Saturday 30th June talking to tenants and leaseholders about their hopes and expectations. We were represented again on Wednesday 4th July.
New development partners for the estate were finally appointed at the Cabinet meeting on 26th of March. The builders are to be Durkan and the RSL are Canalside Housing Association. Canalside is itself a partnership of two established housing associations – Metropolitan and Community – which was formed in the 1990s to take over some Hackney estates along the Regents Canal.
A significant and representative cross-section of both tenants and leaseholders attended. Among the key issues they wanted answers on or expressed opinions on, were-
o which blocks were staying and which going
o what terms would tenants transfer on, and would they retain a right-to-buy
o what about those tenants who wished to remain with the council
o how would leaseholders be treated, and how does “equity share” work
o how would estate management be improved throughout the regenerated estate
Hoardings have already been erected around Westmill, Codicote and the boiler room. Deconstruction is scheduled to begin next month. This was delayed for a further month due to planning permission for the demolition being deemed necessary. The area will be grassed and gravelled over until long-term plans are agreed. Some may be used to provide extra parking.
The regeneration steering group, which Brian chairs, and now involving the three sides – council, residents and development partners – met on the 13th, 18th and 26th of June in preparation for the open days. The longer-term timetable foresees approximately six months spent in detailed discussions with residents, before a masterplan is completed and the planning application submitted. The planning process will probably take another six months, with major works commencing next summer.
Consultation on the Woodberry Down masterplan planning application continued through the first half of June. Darren attended several drop in sessions and wrote on behalf of all three councillors to support the application.
Brian attended the EDC meeting on May 21st, which was also their AGM. Most of the current officers, with whom we have good working relationships, were re-elected. They continued to be concerned about
- possible changes to the phasing, including as a consequence of the listings
- “lack of a people focus” in the planning process
- stability of the Manor House Development Trust, which is to operate the community centre
- crime and disorder, especially drug dealing and abuse
Darren attended a meeting between the council and the Manor House Development Trust on June 5th. The trust raised concerns about leasing arrangements for the new community centre and Darren communicated the local unease about the apparent lack of an economic or social regeneration strategy to complement the physical development. Deputy Mayor Jamie Carswell confirmed that from the council’s point of view, the trust was the best vehicle for locally-controlled regeneration in the area and the council would seek ways of supporting the development of the trust. Darren was elected to the board of the trust on June 19th, and will work with the chair and chief executive over the summer to build the board’s capacity.
Children and Young People
The council’s Children and Young People’s Commission, which Brian and Feryat are members of, intends to concentrate on youth crime reduction for some of the current year, including at its meeting on 2nd July.
Brian made a presentation to the Board on 20th June outlining the range of initiatives being undertaken by the council. They were particularly interested in the plans for Alexandra National House. He also stressed that attempts to have Finsbury Park acknowledged as a town centre in planning policies, must include Hackney and not just focus on Islington.
Standards Sub-committee hearing
On 20th June, the Standards Sub-committee of the Council met to decide if Darren had a conflict of interest when chairing the Dalston Lane South planning application in July 2006. This was the culmination of a year long process following a complaint made by a member of the public to the Standards Board of England. The sub-committee is independent, and Darren’s case was heard by two local co-optees and one Conservative councillor.
Darren had admitted all along that he failed to declare a personal interest – in that he works for CABE, who were consulted on the design merits of the scheme. This in itself would not have meant that he had to withdraw from voting on the application. The committee rejected the more serious charge of failing to declare a prejudicial interest, which would have meant that Darren should not have voted on the application.
We are relieved that this has finally come to an end. He has had to endure 11 months of misleading articles in the Hackney Gazette and a nasty, personal internet campaign against him instigated by those who were against the planning application he chaired. Despite what is contained on these websites, and contrary to what has been in the Hackney Gazette, the planning application did not decide on the fate of the Dalston Theatre. This was a separate application granted before Darren was elected and was subject to a judicial review.
Full Council – 27th June
We raised the thoroughness of the consultation process on the master planning application on Woodberry Down. The Council also received a deputation of residents from Stamford Hill expressing their views on the proposals for planning “areas of exception”. They had tried to get local Tory councillors to arrange the deputation, but as usual found them disinterested in representing their constituents, and instead were introduced by Labour Clissold (and former Brownswood) councillor Linda Smith.
Brian Bell, Feryat Demirci and Darren Parker