As we approach the season of goodwill I was hoping to deliver good news to you all but I am afraid that two of our local boroughs are willing to scupper our efforts to protect the canal’s environs and its communities. This time, the offenders are the boroughs of Hackney and Tower Hamlets and the victims are the photographic world of Shoreditch and the biodiversity supporters of Tower Hamlets. I’m not kidding, but sometimes the biggest enemies of the canal are the organisations I thought we were relying on to protect it!
So why is the borough of Hackney in the dog house? Quite simply, it is because its planning department seems prepared to DESTROY an exemplary canalside photographic studio complex that was imaginatively and sympathetically created from a derelict base. Unbelievably, the council once protected these premises by granting them a local listing only to succumb to the developers by recommending the demolition of the studios. The council has been proven wrong by two successive Judicial Reviews and there are signs that Hackney Planning committee could accelerate the slightly amended proposal through their system without even blinking. If you are a council taxpayer in Hackney then you might find it disturbing that your council is prepared to gamble your funds in another expensive High Court battle.
And what has Tower Hamlets done wrong? Well, if you like biodiversity and rustic community gardens then you would love the Canal Club at Belmont Wharf. But the council has other ideas and seems prepared to demoralise the nature lovers and sanitise the canalside environment. In short, a community-oriented initiative, supported by the then council and British Waterways, to convert a derelict site into a wildlife haven is now under threat from a council, under new management, that seems unable to recognise a gem on its own doorstep. If this application reaches the council’s planning committee then it is highly unlikely to be voted down because on this occasion the appplicant is the council itself.
If you would like to show your support for Holborn Studios then please visit this web page to find out how to object. Please also read this professionally-written letter of objection, which describes the benefits of the studios and explains why the application is flawed.
If you would like to object to the Belmont Wharf plan or find out why it is special then please visit this web page.
If you have any questions on these matters or if you would like to offer some support or advice then please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
Chair, Friends of Regent’s Canal
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