More about Beecholme

Beecholme is also the first postwar "mixed development" housing scheme in Hackney, with a mixture of houses and flats with the taller block having five storeys and containing one-bedroom and bedsit accommodation. It is featured in Volume 15 of Hackney History and was the site of Beecholme House, the family home of Maj. John André (d. 1780), who was executed as a British spy in the American War of Independence.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Tram Depot development issues unresolved -updated

"The result of housing over-development is
Socially excluded, disaffected and alienated pupils" says teacher

"Most if not all of the 67 full and part-time jobs will be be lost" says Depot resident
(Jobs are already down from 104 this time last year)

(See articles further below)


Cllr Guy Nicholson (Council Cabinet member for Regeneration and the Olympics) certainly doesn't represent the people of Clapton.
Cllr Nicholson's letter in last week's Hackney Gazette (15th July) headed
"Tram shed scheme is appropriate"
is certainly not the opinion of the over 1,300 local people who objected, or all three of our local councillors, or local TRAs and groups, or the Hackney Society, the Victorian Society, the local conservancy committee or commentators like Ken Warpole.

We are also told by implication
there will be no unmet demand for school places
or GP places
and everything is fine

Hackney Gazette Letters Page
(22nd July 2010)
carries the following response
to Guy Nicholson:

"Dear Editor
As someone who has lived in Upper Clapton for the past thirty years, I would point out that Cllr Guy Nicholson's views on the proposals by a speculative developer to redevelop the Tram Depot (Gazette, 15 July) do not represent those of the residents of Clapton - the people who will have to live for generations with a development which the local civic society has condemned as "seriously flawed".

The councillors representing the people in the north east of the borough collectively voted at a meeting of the North East Neighbourhood Committee on 13 July to register their concern at the decision by Hackney Council Planning Sub-Committee to approve the proposals to destroy this unique local employment hub, with its variety of small enterprises serving both the local community and the wider public.

It is inconceivable that, at a time when we are experiencing the worst recession in the past seventy years, the Planning Sub-Committee should vote to destroy the Tram Depot complex, which currently sustains the livelihoods of so many skilled and creative people.

As for the character of the scheme, those in the Town Hall who seek to be the arbiters of public taste should aspire to something finer than the aesthetics of Slough Trading Estate.

Cam Matheson"



I have just received confirmation from a depot resident that to the best of his knowledge (after asking everyone) that of the current 70+ people either living and/or working on the site or reliant on current residents for work, 67 have stated: "nobody is planning to or will be able to use the new units
because of noise, dust, fumes, access, hours of work and
the much higher rents the new units will fetch.

That is, most if not all of the 67 full and part-time jobs will be be lost."

The job total is already down from 104 last year as a result (at least in part) of the proposed development.

We have recently found out via a Freedom of Information request that 35 children from Hackney go to Waltham Forest primary schools
and a huge 268 to their secondary schools

That's just Waltham Forest.

We did already know that some parents at Lathams had to send their children outside the borough simply because the local schools were full.
Here's the proof

We also know that the new doctor’s surgery on the new Latham’s development is already oversubscribed and there are still waiting lists at all the local primary schools

Nearly 1000 new homes
have been built in this quadrant alone
in the last two years.

It housing for housings sake
at the expense our community
and heritage

We are seeing residents in our councillor surgeries complaining they are having to send their primary age children out of the area to Walthamstow and elsewhere.
All because of a complete lack of planning by ‘regeneration enthusiasts’ which has lead to suffering on the part of our families.

(SEE the FREEDOM OF INFORMATION figures further below)


The result of housing over-development is
Socially excluded, disaffected and alienated pupils

A teacher with sixteen years specific experience in the teaching and behaviour management of excluded and disaffected Hackney secondary school pupils has stated "if Hackney really cared about all pupils they would arrange planning decisions with regard to schools and to take account of all resident's needs.

Any situation which forces pupils to go out of Hackney to school results in their Social Exclusion. These pupils are alienated from their peers in the borough.

The critical effect of pupils being schooled outside the borough is that have no civic/political education connection with the borough. Their parents do not elect Councillors or the Mayor and their recourse to complaints procedures is not the same as parents who's pupils are in Hackney schools."

Tram Shed over-development
can only add fuel to the fire

"The Tram Sheds decision is a typical example of LBH lack of policy forethough with regard to the civic development of their pupils.

Importantly, pupils do not have the equality of access to the Hackney Pupils Parliament opportunities, events and procedures as do pupils living within the borough.

The social exclusion resulting from even more housing in an area already literally bursting at the seams leads to more pupils disaffected and alienated, often manifesting itself in violence in the so-called "post code wars"

This is already a big problem in Hackney without adding fuel to the fire."


35 children from Hackney go to Waltham Forest primary schools
and a huge 268 to their secondary schools
Response to Freedom of Information

Question I
What proportion of children of compulsory school age registered in State Primary (infant and junior) and Secondary schools (including junior high schools and sixth-form colleges) in Waltham Forest are resident outside this borough?

There are five hundred and fifty-five primary school pupils, and eight hundred and fifty seven secondary school pupils, that live outside the borough and attend schools within the borough.

Please see Table 1 for more detailed information.


Councillor Nicholson also says "In response to traffic concerns.." that the most appropriate site access location is Upper Clapton Road rather than the side roads.

That is answering a question we didn't ask (Which is the better access?)

Of course the tiny, single lane side roads (Prout and Casimir) are completely unsuitable.

That does NOT mean that Upper Clapton Road is suitable.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The unanswered issues and questions raised

• An application this size should really be accompanied by a Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) - this would assess the impact of the quantum of residential, retail and employment uses on the surrounding road network. The Travel Plan included in the application is not a replacement for a full TIA.

• There are significant issues relating to the conflict of vehicles and pedestrians on the "The New Passage" area. This is particularly critical as the 42 vehicle car park is serviced from this route. This will be made even worst as all employment and retail units will also need to be serviced from this here as outlined by David Brown from TFL - this is likely to
involve articulated lorries coming into the "New Passage".

• The greatly increased volume of traffic in and out of the site will cause problems for traffic flow in Upper Clapton Road, especially with the 425 and 388 buses turning into Upper Clapton Road from Brooke Road directly opposite the proposed access.

With traffic being backed up way past the depot during rush hour already, it should be clear to anyone that a development of this size is just not appropriate for the site or location.

Other architects have commented that the design "lacks distinctiveness and sense of place to mark it out from the vast majority of new builds" and "there is a failure to achieve an inter-relationship between the modern apartment block on the left and..." "...19th century Tram Depot building on the right".

The Hackney Gazette calls it
"Clone-town Clapton - a fully owned subsidiary of Tesco plc"

See the full story at "The future of Clapton looks bleak" - Gazette

The Hackney Society in their objection positively slate the design calling part "clumsy and inappropriate" and calling it overall "seriously flawed"

See the full Hackney Society objection 3/4 way down


Tram Depot site
is designated as a
"Priority Employment Area"
in the new
"Core Strategy"

The Core Strategy was submitted to the Secretary of State on 25 Feb 2010 for examination by an independent Planning Inspector. The Inspector’s report will be binding on the Council.

The new 2010 Core Strategy map has the site listed change from no.123 to no.127 but otherwise stays the same:
Full map in pdf:
PDF File Icon Core Strategy Submission Document (and Proposals Map) (consolidated with Schedule of Proposed Changes) (2.3MB)

See The Hackney council LDF - Core Strategy webpage for more info and updates

The Examination In Public hearing
will start on 10.00am Tuesday 20 July 2010 at
The Ocean 270 Mare Street London E8 1HE
(Opposite Hackney Town Hall)Please register 10 minutes before the start.

Please inform the Programme Officer, Andrea Copsey if you wish to attend the Hearings either by email or telephone.

Andrea Copsey
LDF Programme Officer
3rd floor, 2 Hillman Street
London E8 1FB

Tel: 020 8 356 8217


Some of the information posted here (for the last day or two) was out of date - I hope it's correct & up to date now.
My apologies.

I think the 327 squ.m retail unit
has been changed
to B1(c) Light industrial
the needed B2 & B8 has been lost

As "Invest in Hackney" have stated:
"The light industrial uses currently carried out on the site are more appropriate for this location than B1 offices" and that "the retention of the class (B1c or B2) is much more lettable in this part of the borough."
(see inset further below)

Thank goodness the Retail space has been changed to Light Industrial but that change alone will not save most of the jobs or businesses on the site.

It's the B2 and B8 that's needed just as much, if not more.

What makes even less sense than removing the B2 & B8 designation is shoe-horning a huge number of residential flats in an area already over-developed, with excess stock...'s not needed or wanted in Leabridge

(apart from the loss of one of the last Victorian Tram Depots
which goes way past "not sensible")

Dirty and noisy uses will be built against residential uses undermining the quality of the homes and prejudicing the usefulness of the employment space.

The "new passage" service area conflict between pedestrians, residents cars & commercial/industrial traffic (incl. articulated lorries) will make it even worse.

A mixed development on the site
is simply a badly flawed idea

It's regeneration run amok...

As our councillors, residents, the Hackney Society and others have pointed out
Leabridge Ward already has three new large-scale developments (with empty flats and offices), increasing local population density
way above the London average
the proposal represents the highest level of mixed-use density
currently being developed in Hackney

...which the area cannot support and for which
the site is just not suitable

If there was twice the space with a car park next door, maybe.
But even then you'd want to do a much better job of incorporating the Victorian buildings and supply badly needed 3 and 4 bedroon town houses with back gardens, not tiny flats for families.


More about the PEA and land use

The developer had, in the objection to the PEA, argued the site is more suited to A1 and A2 - and residential.

I haven't been able to find out if this has been withdrawn or not, however I have found out that the PEA designation of the Depot site (No.127, Prout Road site) is not on the EIP agenda nor is it going to be discussed.
So it looks almost certain the the Core Strategy will be ratified with Depot site a PEA.

I don't know how anyone could argue that residential should go next to light industrial as is now proposed, unless the type of "light industrial" tenant is going to be limited severely to "clean" industry - making a nonsense of the land use designation.

The Core Strategy also says both design and environmental sustainability must be of a good standard.
The design's lack of consideration for the Depot has been commented on by both the Hackney Society and other architects.
Level 4 sustainability is poor and sets a bad precedent. It sould be level 5 at the very least according to architects and urban designers we have talked to.


A PEA development should maintain or increase the size & quality of workspace. The intention of a PEA is clearly that employment takes "priority" and that means it comes first, not a poor second.

In this case light industrial & studio workspace of the kind actually needed.
The current depot workspace is completely occupied and perfectly suited to noisy or messy light industry as it is currently zoned - and has a waiting list.

During the meeting Graham Loveland (Interim Assistant Director for Planning & Regeneration) said the development was "consistent" with the Core Strategy's designation of the site as a PEA (Priority Employment Area) which we believe it is stretching "consistent" to the absolute extreme.

The 2007 guidelines to the act say the closer to completion new policy documents are, the more weight they should be given.

The final examination of the Core Strategy by the planning Inspectorate is due this month on the 20th as noted above.

The developer has lodged an objection to the designation.
Why bother if the development is "consistent with the PEA"?

Because it obviously isn't - priority is given to residential.

The proposed commercial spaces are not suitable for the majority of current residents and they have said just that. For the biggest employer, the foam factory it will mean closure, as he stated at the planning sub-committee meeting but was just ignored by the chair, who did ask that the developers (on the surface) generous offer to current depot residents of free or reduced rent for a period be minuted. What wasn't made so clear was that the offer was subject to signing either a 5 or 10 year lease at rents that none of the current residents could afford and that (more importantly) only a very small percentage of current residents (including all the successful local businesses) would find suitable.

You can't produce and record music, manufacture world-class metal sculpture or furniture or work on cars in offices right next to, or studios underneath, flats without seriously affecting the "quality" of both.

Shoe-horning 90 flats (up to 4 bedroom) into the development is patently diametrically in opposition to "priority employment".


This is from the refused 2008 application

They come up with the right answer for the wrong reason.
Public transport is very good (as TFL point out), the problem for office space is there's loads of it in central Hackney and the Island as well as Shoreditch.
Generally speaking, depending on what sort of business will depend on where you want your office.
If it financial or insurance or hi-tech you'll pick the Island, if it's graphics or media related you'll pick Shoreditch. There just aren't big companies or multi-nationals locally so there's no need for those types of service and support industries here.
There is a need, with a long tradition for artisans and small manufacturing in the area, including high value bespoke "one-off" pieces the artists and craftsmen are currently producing at the site.
It's been all-but decimated by this sort of bad planning decision.

The lack of foresight & lack of vision
in allowing this development to go ahead
is staggering.

However, getting back to land use, they rightly point out (below) that office space remains empty while industrial, storage (ie B2 & B8 land use designations) and studio space gets snapped up very quickly.
(the depot's current live/work studio spaces are to die for - I know, I've rented enough studio and desk space over the years as a graphic artist)

BTW, that a planner would mistake superficial dirty and uncared for exterior as dilapidated is worrying, to say the least. The depot is made up of several separate and adjoining buildings. The oldest and I believe smallest building is in disrepair but is not part of the development. Looking at a photo of a corner of one of the older out-buildings (as supplied by the developer) that is bad is very misleading.

• To call it dilapidated is wrong. All of the main buildings were extremely well built and will be standing for at least another hundred years.

• To call it poor quality is rather missing the point and again misleading - it is what it is, a Victorian industrial building. It could be re-fitted and refurbished to as high a standard as you like.

• To call it bad design is just unbelievable. It was designed as a functional horse drawn tram depot and is still used. It is full of character and has a real presence.

It could be cleaned up to look great easily enough.

This what the Hackney Society has say on the matter:

"If restored and ingeniously converted, the former tramway buildings could provide both historic and contemporary architectural interest in an area that has been deprived of any clear master planning or quality new development in recent years.

During the last 50 years many historic buildings in this area have been demolished and replaced with insensitive development – the demolition of 19th century buildings facing what is now the Lea Bridge roundabout, the demolition of the Tudor building Brooke House, the cheap conversion of the former pub on the corner of Upper Clapton Road and Prout Road to name but a few.

Leabridge Ward already has three new large-scale developments, increasing local population density way above the London average.

The proposal represents the highest level of mixed-use density
currently being developed in Hackney
setting a dangerous precedent for future development in the rest of the borough.

The Hackney Society strongly disagrees with the assessment in the Planning Statement that the “active” planning history of the site is an “indication that the current run down and low grade commercial buildings are inadequate for modern-day purposes, and are in need of investment for sustained employment use.” The existing tram shed, contrary to that opinion, is a successful example of reuse and provides Hackney with essential light industrial units for artists, craftspeople, manufacturers and mechanics. The tram sheds are run down, but with refurbishment provide ideal workshops for manufacturing.

The site also houses the only remaining active group of artists and designers
left in north-east Hackney.
Artists and creative industries are important to the economy of the area as well as creating an interesting and diverse community.

The proposals also completely underestimate the number of people employed on the site, and the kind of work they do cannot take place in the proposed light usage spaces envisaged in the application. The closure of such business would have a knock-on effect and cause substantial direct and indirect job losses. The proposal has failed to take into account the need for space of existing businesses (mechanics, joiners, mould makers) and bases its assumptions on space needed for office workers.

The current site is a busy and active working site, with every unit rented. Such light industrial spaces have all but disappeared in Hackney, as a result of warehouses being converted into housing, and industrial units being demolished for new housing developments.

This site is perfect for what Invest in Hackney says makes Hackney unique:

“Hackney has a long tradition of manufacturing, but as in other areas of the country, this has seen a decline over the years. This has, however, left Hackney with an interesting legacy of old industrial property. These empty spaces have been taken on by creative and design businesses, and from this a new High Value Manufacturing sector has developed. This sector of the manufacturing industry often sees the whole production process from design and development, through manufacture and on to the point of sale, housed under one roof. The products of this industry are often hand crafted and one-off pieces, with the value of the finished product arising as much from the design as the function. This is particularly true of sub sectors such as furniture, fashion and jewellery production, which have all developed into prominent industries in Hackney’s economy. The growth in this sector has also added to the borough’s particular retail offer, and complements the artistic and creative industries that also flourish in the borough.”

The Hackney Society thinks that the development is seriously flawed and does not meet high standards of design.

We would like to see a smaller development that retains the U-shaped range, colonnades granite setts and some of the double-height spaces of the existing industrial buildings."

...and that's the opinion of just about everyone else, including local councillors, 1,300+ objectors, the Victorian Society, local resident organizations and more - ed.

see the full objection from the Hackney Society at

...seems to be an all too common a cry these days again
What's happened to local democracy?
It seems to have failed badly in this case so far

Why is the opinion of 1,300 residents, all three local ward councillors, the Hackney Society, the Victorian Society, English Heritage, the local conservancy committee, the local TRA, local businesses and every other local group and organization, not to mention all local press and commentators and academics being ignored and over-ridden?

more to come.

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