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.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Conservation Areas Committee lodge new Tram Depot objection

has just lodged the following objection to the proposed
demolition and re-development
of the Old Tram Depot at 38-40 Upper Clapton Road

Planning application 2010/2879


with links to the Hackney Planning Dept.
online "comment" page & online petition
simply scroll down or click here

Deadline for objections March 1st 2011

The official deadline for comments is 31st Jan 2011 
however, the planning dept. has stated they will accept
comments & objections right up until the decision is reached
as is their normal practice.
We estimate this will not be before March
(we will keep you updated)


Mr Adam Flynn
Planning Department
London Borough of Hackney
1 Hillman Street
E8 1DY

30 January 2011

Dear Adam Flynn

38-40 Upper Clapton Road, London E5
Planning application reference 2010/2879 

Thank you for your letter of 8 December 2010 enclosing details of the above planning application. The Clapton Conservation Areas Advisory Committee has given consideration to the application and CCAAC wishes to register the following objections:

1. 38-40 Upper Clapton Road (hereafter referred to as the Tram Depot) has recently been designated a Priority Employment Area by Hackney Council. This is an acknowledgement that the Tram Depot has been a working environment and centre for employment for over 130 years and continues to function successfully in this capacity. The proposed development runs counter to the site’s Priority Employment Area status as it would result in the loss of 1,905 sq ft currently in employment use. 

2. It is the declared intention of Priority Employment Area status that Business (B1), Hotel (C1) and non-residential institution (D1) uses will be the preferred uses on a PEA site. However the proposed development would increase residential occupancy on the site from 7 live/work units to 85 residential units, thus giving primacy to residential use. This is in contradiction to its PEA status. 

3. The proposed development represents a threat to jobs and businesses currently operating on the site. Despite the developer’s claim that existing small enterprises operating in the Tram Depot would be retained, the majority of existing business owners have stated that they would be unable to carry out their present functions in the proposed development, as the nature of their operations (for example decorative ironwork requiring use of a forge) would be incompatible with the proximity of high density residential use and the restricted space allocated to office/light industrial use. The proposed development would therefore lead to an exodus of local small businesses whose skills and services are in great demand and who are valued by the local community. The logic behind this site’s PEA designation is that existing jobs and small enterprises should be preserved and protected, which would not be the case. 

4. The Tram Depot is a long established and valued local landmark which lends character and distinctiveness to the local area, despite prolonged neglect by successive owners. 

5. The Tram Depot’s heritage significance has recently received official recognition from Hackney Council who have recently added it to their local listing category of historic buildings. Clapton owes its rapid development from a semi-rural area into a Victorian villa suburb during the period 1870-1890 to the provision of a cheap, efficient and regular horse tram service linking Clapton to the City. The Victorian hymn writer Bishop William Walsham How, whose residence as Bishop of East London was located in Clapton, was known throughout East London as “The Omnibus Bishop” because of his custom of travelling by horse tram rather than private carriage thoughout his diocese. Clapton’s historical identity is therefore bound up with its past association with the horse tram. 

6. The developer has consistently sought to downgrade the heritage value of the site and commissioned a report to support his plans for demolition of the Tram Depot. This report was a significant factor in influencing the decision of English Heritage not to give the Tram Depot a national listing in 2005. 

However English Heritage did acknowledge that “The surviving components of the 1870s tramshed are notable for their earliness in London’s transport history”. English Heritage’s policies on heritage protection have recently undergone revision and there is now greater emphasis on understanding contextual “earliness” and rarity combined with a site’s thematic/phased development, rather than aesthetic value.  This is particularly the case with transport and municipal heritage buildings.  

It is considered that, in the light of revised heritage protection policies and the selective and incomplete nature of previous inspections, a fresh and more comprehensive  survey of the entire Tram Depot complex should be undertaken by English Heritage . This survey should take into consideration the significance of the Tram Depot for London’s transport heritage as a rare survival of a North Metropolitan Tramways Company horse tram depot, accommodating both trams, horses and associated engineering workshops. The fact that it survived without adaptation for electric trams makes it even rarer.  The North Metropolitan Tramways Company was the largest of the three pioneer tramway companies in London in the latter half of the nineteenth century. In 1900, the peak of the horse tram era, the North Metropolitan operated 52 miles of route out of a total of 142, with 673 cars and 7,167 horses. The company was therefore a major player in the development of London’s public transport network in the Victorian era, and the completeness of one of its surviving tram depots therefore makes a significant contribution to our understanding of transport history. 

7. The developer’s own heritage consultant has acknowledged the contribution which the existing single storey buildings to the north of the site have to the site’s historic interest, as follows:

“Some of the lower courtyard structures to the north have intimate scale and detailing which is visually appealing with positive historical associations”

It is of concern to CCAAC that the developer has chosen to ignore his own consultant’s opinion by proposing the demolition of this range of buildings which have a significant contribution to make to the historic interest and understanding of the Tram Depot complex.

8. The developer makes much of the fact that elements of the historic central tramshed are being retained and maintains that “our starting point for the design was the retention of the tram depot” . However, instead of being a focal point, the conservation element is dominated and overwhelmed by the adjacent seven-storey modern structure “Block A“ - a run of the mill apartment block of indifferent quality which acts to the detriment of the historic core around which a conservation-led scheme should be based.  The Design Panel’s judgement that the development did not hold together as an integrated townscape and was “confusing and unclear” is nowhere better illustrated than with this example. The historic elements which lie at the heart of the project are swamped by the bulk and height of adjacent  structures which make no reference to them. There is therefore no overall identity and sense of place. 

9. CCAAC is concerned that, in reality, the developer has in fact reduced the historic elements of the scheme, as the proposed development no longer retains the existing gable walls along the northern boundary of the site, thus further diminishing the historic nature of the site.

10. The seven-storey apartment block “Block A“ (see attached), which fronts on to Upper Clapton Road to the north of the site, would be out of scale with its surroundings, and would be over-dominant in the context of the section of Upper Clapton Road in which it is located.  In contrast with neighbouring five-storey Beaumont Court, which is considerably set back from the public highway, the proposed apartment block is situated on the boundary of the development site and would be visually overbearing on the existing streetscape. The pavement in front of the block is extremely narrow, with barely enough room for two people to pass. The height and bulk of the apartment block in this context would be highly intrusive upon the public realm, and illustrates the Design Panel’s reservations about “over-development” and “bulk”.

11. Block F would involve the introduction of a tall, windowless elevation to the Casimir Road streetscape - a traditional street of two-storey homes - and would present an oppressively high and blank aspect to these houses.  

12. The proposed residential element of the development would inevitably result in an increase in traffic movements and parking in the narrow residential roads surrounding the site and would have a detrimental impact upon residents in the Beecholme Estate and surrounding area who have hitherto enjoyed the advantages of a quiet residential neighbourhood. 

13. Finally, the developer maintains that the site is not within an Area of Archaeological Priority. It is CCAAC’s understanding that in fact the site does lie within an AAP as evidenced by the fact that the Peabody Trust was required to do an archaeological investigation of their proposed development site at 30 - 36 Upper Clapton Road in 2003 
PPS5 makes it clear in HE6.1 that local planning authorities should require applicants to provide a description of the significance of heritage assets that would be affected by a proposed development to inform the decision making process. ‘Where an application site includes, or is considered to have the potential to include, heritage assets with archaeological interest, local planning authorities should require developers to submit an appropriate desk-based assessment and, where desk-based research is insufficient to properly assess the interest, a field evaluation.’ 

Yours sincerely,

Clapton Conservation Areas Advisory Committee


You might also be interested in the wealth of info about the depot, its residents and past successful
campaigns to stop this re-development
at these posts

success last year

and take a look at the comic below

made last year but just as relevant today


The only change is this year it is 

Planning application 2010/2879
2009/2490 as shown

and the deadline for objections is (we estimate) currently March 1st 2011

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