Councillors Report – September 07
As detailed in previous reports, earlier this year English Heritage agreed to list the existing Woodberry Down primary school, meaning that at least it’s shell had to be preserved. The original plan had envisaged the current primary school site being used to build a new secondary, whilst a new primary was constructed to the west of that. Instead the secondary will now be built there but will also need some additional adjoining land.
This resulted in negotiations with Berkley Homes who are the Phase 1 developer, to swap land already granted for sites elsewhere on the estate. The good news is that the new sites to be transferred to Berkley’s include more prominent ones along Seven Sisters Road, including those immediately east of the tube station. This will give a gateway effect to the scheme, and mean these homes will be replaced 8 years earlier than originally scheduled.
We also took the opportunity of these negotiations to make that developer responsible for building the health centre, and business and training centre. In total we estimate this brings an additional £2m contribution from them.
The Cabinet meeting in July approved the land swap and other changes. It also approved the final secure tenant and leaseholder “offer documents”, which had been agreed with resident representatives.
We continue to negotiate with the existing shopkeepers about transferring to new units on the Old School Site.
Planning permission for the overall scheme was considered on the 10th of September. Consultation has already started on the detailed planning application for the original Phase 1 sites.
A further issue has arisen with someone proposing the listing of Needwood and Nichol Houses, together with their twins on the other side of Woodberry Grove. If EH agree this, it would further complicate the scheme, and have particularly unfortunate consequences for the leaseholders in those blocks.
Deconstruction and clearance of the centre of the estate began in July. It’s important to understand that this is gradual deconstruction rather than a blowdown, with the aim that as much as possible can be recycled.
Negotiations continue between residents, the council and the development partners – Community Housing Association, Metropolitan Housing Trust, Durkan builders – through a Steering Group. The meeting in August commissioned a door-to-door survey of the whole estate to establish housing needs in detail. A surprising number of tenants appear to want to stay with the council!
Hackney Homes audit inspection
Hackney Homes are the “arms length management organisation” set up last year to manage council housing. The recent inspection only classed them as a one star organisation, which was unacceptable. Its Chief Executive has departed, and the organisation has been told it must achieve a better result in the reinspection in 18 months.
Being rated a better performer would have given us access to additional credits which could have meant the Decent Homes programme being completed faster. However the council is committed to finding additional funding from within its capital programme.
Blackstock Road – Operation Rockrose
The six-month police operation against crime and ASB on Blackstock continues. The outline for the first two months was as follows –
- week commencing 16th July – deploy mobile police station
- w/c 23rd July – high visibility policing with at least 14 extra police officers
- w/c 30th July – deploy automatic numberplate reader and traffic team
- 2nd August – London Fire Brigade visits and checks to begin
- 6th-19th August – anti-robbery initiative, deploying TSG
- 13th August – deploy mobile police station
- 28th August – LFB enforcement begins
- w/c 1st September – deploy automatic numberplate reader and traffic team
- w/c 10th September – deploy mobile police station, and high visibility policing with at least 14 extra police officers
- w/c 10th September – environmental health, trading standards and licensing from both boroughs to begins visits, concentrating at first on education and later enforcement
Head of the operation is CI Jane Johnson, Islington Borough. In addition, there will be covert activities which obviously we can’t publicise. Obviously also a major incident could lead to resources being temporarily diverted.
The three ward councillors and the Chair of our CAP, together with our equivalents in Islington, have been invited to sit on a community advisory group which will meet monthly throughout.
A meeting to alert traders on the road to the aims of the operation was held on the 16th of August. The traders present were keen to reassure us that those involved in crime were a small minority of themselves and their customers. They felt the Algerian community in particular was getting all the blame for what was a much wider problem. Reporting of criminal activity in the cafes tended to be low because of a lack of faith that the police would back them up effectively. They also wanted a lighter touch on immigration enforcement.
Let us have your feedback.
Arsenal matchday parking
A consultation on the possibility of introducing extra parking controls on matchdays has just concluded. We will report on the outcome once we know.
Bike stands and street trees
While some other boroughs are cutting back, Hackney is investing in the streetscape. Many residents have commented that street cleaning has improved. Now we need to make those small quality of life additions. For example, let us know if you think aditional bike stands could go somewhere. Remember however that this must be somewhere where several people could use them, and where the pavement is wide enough. “Outside my house” probably won’t get approved!
We are also making a substantial effort to refill vacant tree pits and plant new ones. Trees make our borough a better place to live and help decrease our carbon footprint. This year alone more than 120 new street trees were planted in Hackney, some of which were in Brownswood. This was made possible with the extra funding provided in our 2007/8 budget.