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.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Save the Old Tram Depot

2011 and the fight goes on...

...the fourth application in the last five years.

The deadline for comments has been extended - comments will be considered right up until a decision is reached, which we believe will not be before March 2011

All the previous have been withdrawn, refused or deemed "unimplementable"
having been opposed by depot residents, a very large number of local residents, local councillors and organizations like the Hackney Society as well as professional commentators, architects and politicians (incl. Jennette Arnold & Diane Abbott see:

There IS an alternative - see end of this post

click on the poster below to see it full size (1200 pixels wide)

The complete Tram Depot site (owned by 3 different people) shows the development of transport from horse drawn carriages to horse drawn trams
to electric trams. 
This development covers about 90% of the complex of buildings that make up the tram depot.
Some sections have a lot of original features, some less but the fact the site does show a hundred years in the development of public transport from the mid 19th century makes it a site of regional if not national importance. Even the fact the "shadow" of the horse drawn ramp leading up to the 1st floor stables is important.

The early historic sub-station should really be in the science museum.
To allow its wholesale demolition would be criminal.
The saving of the main colonnade and 3 walls of the main building is laudable, but without the complete context and it's place in history accessible it is little more than a design exercise.

What makes it worse is that very dense housing in the form of 83 flats is being hoisted onto a Priority Employment Area.
The Hackney Gazette (Thur 26th Dec) notes that Hackney is the 3rd most crowded borough in the whole of Britain!!
Population density is well over twice the London average and Leabridge is right up there.

With schools and services not able to cope now with children having to go to Waltham Forest to get a place (see: and with huge cuts the very last thing needed in Clapton is even greater density.

A local councillor’s view on what the cuts will mean for local residents
This is a small excerpt:
"These cuts to local government grants will inevitably have an impact on services here in Hackney.  It is not just Hackney Council’s funding that is being slashed: Education Maintenance Allowances of up to 30 pounds a week to support students from low income families to stay on in education are being scrapped this year.  At BSix College over 70 per cent of students receive the full allowance which helps to cover the costs of travel and study, and creates an incentive for students to stay in education rather than leaving at 16 to find work.
Families in Hackney will be hit by the Government’s cuts to housing benefit: the council estimates that there are around 800 families in the borough who will now find that their level of benefit will not cover the cost of their current rent.  If their landlords will not agree to lower the rent levels, these families will be forced out of their homes."
by Hackney councillor Rick Muir.

A new planning application to re-develop the
Old Tram Depot 
(aka the Tram Sheds)
38-40 Upper Clapton Road
was registered 8 December 2010 and is now on the council website
application ref. 2010/2879

Object online 
sign the petition:

Add your objection or comment to the planning officer on the planning webpage here:


  MAKE YOUR OPPOSITION DIRECTLY to Hackney Council Planning Dept.
email:  (case officer) 
or email Adam Flynn at:

see a sample objection letter at:


 please sign the new 2011
online petition:

Alternatively there is (or very soon will be) a paper petition for you to sign 
at the PO sorting office in Brooke Rd and in the "Upper Clapton Supermarket" almost directly opposite the Old Tram Depot in Upper Clapton Rd .
scroll down this post to see
an alternative
vision for the depot

The petition (link above) reads:


Dear Adam Flynn

We, the undersigned, are writing to object in the strongest possible terms to the proposed demolition and development of the Tram Depot site, 38-40 Upper Clapton Rd.

These are the principal objections:

The demolition will lose Hackney people their jobs

The current site is now a PRIORITY EMPLOYMENT AREA .
The granting of PEA status should protect the existing jobs on site which the application fails to do.

The huge reduction in commercial space (30-40%) and the 1300% increase in residential space are incompatible with the sites PEA status!

Most businesses have been there between 10 – 20 years! An estimated 100+ jobs directly depend on the site.
The kind of work they do cannot take place in the proposed mix of B1 office and light industrial usage spaces envisaged in the application, and there are no guarantees of occupancy.

The closure of such businesses would have a huge knock-on effect to cause substantial direct and indirect job losses.

We also oppose the application because we believe that the uniqueness of the Clapton's Horse Drawn Tram Depot, dating from 1873, and now recognised as being of local importance by being LOCALLY LISTED and is worthy of a FULL ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY given English Heritages CHANGES IN HERITAGE POLICY.

The Tram Depot is one of only two complete horse drawn tram depots in the UK (the other is listed and in Sheffield). English Heritage are now refining policies to include those post 1840 building types that, in their words, they 'don't understand' including municipal and transport complexes of which Clapton is an early example. Their emphasis is now on understanding contextual 'earliness' and rarity combined with a sites thematic/phased development, rather than just architectural merit, so that understanding a sites functionality and development are considered to be the most important over and above aesthetic value. (see )

The proposed site significantly increases traffic congestion

The proposed entrance to the development is on a blind spot and near a bus stop on one of Transport For London's designated arterial routes, the A107 (Upper Clapton Rd).

The '''85''' proposed 1-4 bed flats will significantly increase the number of car-trips coming from the site. The developer contends that the number of these car-trips by the new residents can be reduced by encouraging non-car dependent transport such as buses, train, cycling and walking, simply through the provision of information boards on the new site! His consultants suggest that a reduction of 5-15% of trips can be made between 2 and 10 years !!
Thus they accept that the increased car-trips emanating from the site will significantly add to congestion to this already busy arterial route.

The loss of designer & artist spaces in Hackney

The site houses the only remaining active group of artists and designers left in North Hackney—the rest have already been evicted from nearby sites to make way for new build
housing developments. Artists and creative industries are important to communities. There are over 30 active artists who use the units as their studios, and two gallery spaces, the Tram Depot Gallery and Vulpes Vulpes both have successful track records of innovative exhibitions open to the local as well as art-specialist community.

It is an inappropriate proposal

The proposed development will set a poor precedent physically, in terms of its height and density.
Such a large development fronted by six and seven storey elevations so close to the Lea Bridge Roundabout will dramatically affect the aspect and light levels for the Beaumont Court, the Beecholme Estate, and Casimir Road residential areas. Issues of privacy are also raised as a
large part of the proposed development overlooks much of this existing housing.

Furthermore, the need for the application is questionable in the light of it being so similar to at least 3 other large scale new build housing developments in the close vicinity, including the '''old Latham’s Timber Yard''' site, and this Developers Lea Bridge Road site around the corner which provides 30 1-4 bed flats, and other adjacent sites on the canal. All are no more than half a mile away and many of the commercial units provided remain empty.

To summarise, this application should be rejected. It will destroy established local businesses, put dangerous pressures on roads and services, and is fueled purely by a get rich quick mentality.


All development documents & plans are available on the council website here

click on the image below to get to the page

See photos of some of the interiors at the depot:

More info here:



The better alternative

“Clapton residents are fighting for their cultural heritage – campaigning to keep the old Tram Depot a space for artists and small-scale manufacturers,” said London Assembly member Jennette Arnold, who has given her full backing to CAT’s campaign. “I am supporting their push to retain and regenerate this unique building, so it can take up its rightful place at the heart of Clapton’s community.”

The online PETITION reads:
"I would like to strongly support the idea of turning the Old Tram Depot at 38-40 Upper Clapton Road over to an Arts & Crafts Trust or Foundation.
It is in line with "Sustainable Communities Act 2007 and would be the jewel in the crown of an Area Action Plan for Clapton (when we get it - promised since 2005).
The Depot deserves to be saved on heritage grounds as well as on cultural and economic grounds - the artists generate wealth from their works which are in demand all over the world.
Please do whatever is necessary to
make The Old Tram Depot Arts Trust a reality". 


"I was happy to sign
       the petition,
I think it is a really
                 visionary idea"
                                 says Diane Abbott MP

Turning the Depot over to an Arts Trust
is also supported
by our Leabridge ward councillors:

Linda Kelly
Ian Rathbone
Deniz Oguzkanli

as well as
The Hackney Society. 


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