Campaigners fighting to save the old ‘Tram Sheds‘ in Clapton fear that local businesses which use the buildings will lose out over plans to redevelop the site.

The Old Tram Depot in Upper Clapton Road, built in 1882 for storing horse drawn trams, is home to an art gallery, studio spaces and businesses including furniture makers and fabric suppliers.

Local traders and residents are concerned that these existing businesses may not be provided for under the new scheme.

Developers want to knock down the existing industrial building and partially demolition of the existing Tram Shed, in order to erect five buildings, up to seven storeys in height, with retail space and car parking.

They have submitted a proposal to the Town Hall’s planning department, which will consider responses submitted before 13 January.

Objectors claim that more than 100 jobs are on the line, and that the development will lead to more traffic congestion in the area.

David White, secretary of Beecholme and Casimir Tenants and Residents Association, said, “The list of cons is so long it’s hard to know where to start, but I’ll try.

“We’d lose more of our rapidly disappearing working heritage. It is an historic building worth renovating or restoring in part if not whole.

“We’d lose virtually the last building with spaces suitable for local small scale manufacturing and crafts in the area, not to mention well over 100 jobs.

“We’d lose the Tram Depot gallery and Vulpes Vulpes, plus half a dozen other art based enterprises – the spaces currently are ideal with very high ceilings and huge skylights.

“We’d get a massive increase in local traffic – vehicles associated with some 92 flats and several floors of office space will create even more problems for the Lea Bridge roundabout as well as creating a problem for locals in the side streets.

“We’d get more pressure on local services and facilities in a time when the council is trying to find millions of pounds in savings. The very last thing we need is higher population density.

“We’d get overlooked – the Beecholme estate would be completely overlooked as would all neighbouring buildings.

“It would destroy much of what Beecholme’s architect Sir Frederick Gibberd had in mind when he designed the estate. His emphasis was  “the enclosure of space and creating vistas rather then arrangement of mass”. I think he would be appalled by the proposal.” ”

Local politicians are also opposing the proposals: “We fully support residents and businesses in their campaign for preserving the tram depot and oppose this ugly development which will mean the loss of more than 100 jobs,” said Cllr Ian Rathbone on behalf of all three Leabridge ward councillors.

“We imagine there will be a lot of greedy, oversized, and inadequately designed housing development applications in the Lea Valley between now and 2012, aimed at lining the pockets of people whose only interest in Clapton is the money they can make by overdeveloping it.

“We hope that the council is geared up to distinguishing between regeneration and profiteering, and reject it.”

Businesses based in the tram shed are calling on those opposed to the development to sign their petition or write to Council planning officer Ian Bailey at by 13 January.

View the planning application here.
More information on the campaign here.

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