Image: Hackney Council.

Hackney Council is to push ahead with the final phase of its wide-ranging regeneration of the Kings Crescent estate.

The Town Hall’s planning sub-committee approved the plans for 219 new homes and 174 ‘upgraded’ pre-existing homes last night, with more than half to be provided at genuinely affordable social rent or shared ownership.

Cllr Clare Potter (Lab, Brownswood) hailed the plans as “attractive and robust”, while recognising the open division amongst residents of the estate’s steering group over the construction of an 11-storey block which some believe will overshadow their windows and violate their privacy.

Cllr Potter, speaking on behalf of the residents’ steering group, said: “Kings Crescent Estate was built in the 1970s with a ‘streets in the sky’ approach, but unfortunately reality quickly turned to crime and antisocial behaviour, which resulted in life for residents becoming unacceptable.

“As a result, the council took the decision back in the 1990s that a radical regeneration was needed. Two subsequent regens failed in the noughties, and the regeneration of the north side completed in 2017 was the first stage in turning this around.

“While not every aspect is liked by every member of the steering group, the steering group considers that this scheme is attractive, robust and far more than just a compromise, and that the design meets the majority of what the community wanted to see out of the regeneration.

“There have been some challenges from residents, particularly in concern over the height of the 11-storey building. This has prompted further detailed work on daylight and sunlight, and I am satisfied from detailed reports that these are within reasonable limits given the urban context.”

The plans were scrutinised in detail by councillors on the planning sub-committee, with Cllr Clare Joseph (Lab, Victoria) questioning the levels of shared ownership properties in the scheme.

The Victoria councillor quizzed officers on the potential risk of buyers ‘staircasing’ or buying full ownership in their shared properties, resulting in the council effectively building what would be a “massive increase in private housing” on the estate in its efforts to tackle the housing crisis.

Officers reassured Cllr Joseph that, while “a proportion” of homes may become owned outright by residents in time, the council’s experience was that this “was not always the case,” with many residents remaining shared owners or trading up to larger shared ownership properties, keeping them as affordable going forward.

The final phase will see 28 new socially-rented council homes, 75 homes for shared ownership and 116 for outright sale.

Upgrades to the 174 existing homes will include new balconies, lobby entrances and refuse stores.

An objector to the plans, who lives on the King’s Crescent estate, said they all agreed the scheme was needed, but voiced their opposition in particular to an 11-storey building central to the finished estate, which will house a community centre.

The objector said: “I’m on the residents’ steering group, and have joined most of the meetings over the last few years.

“I also want this regeneration to happen. Getting to know the people who have been waiting for the regeneration to happen for decades, it breaks my heart that I’m sitting on this side today to object to it.

“The only thing we differ on is that there is an alternative, and that this doesn’t represent the fairest and best alternative, there are better ones and fairer ones. There are compromises being asked from us that are not warranted.

“No-one wants a big building in front of their bedroom, but for us we have single-aspect living rooms, so this is all we’re going to see for the coming decades when we look out of our windows.”

Officers told the meeting that residents who had moved into the first phases of the regenerated estate had “every reason to expect more development in front of them”.

The first phase of Kings Crescent, completed in 2017, has won awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Mayor of London, with the latest designs set to include better public spaces, new play areas and community facilities.

Incoming residents with cars on the next phase will also not be able to receive new car parking permits, as part of the council’s ambition to reduce reliance on car ownership to improve air quality in the borough.

Work is due to start on the final phase of Kings Crescent in 2021, with residents expected to move into the first homes in 2023.

According to Town Hall policy, local people will “always have first dibs” on the new homes, with Council homes set to be given to residents whose homes have been demolished, tenants in housing need who live nearby, or homeless families on the housing waiting list.

Ajman Ali, Acting Group Director, Neighbourhoods and Housing, said: “Hackney is building. These plans will provide desperately needed new council homes for local people and those on our waiting list, as well as huge investment in existing homes for tenants and leaseholders.

“We believe that Council housing should be just as good as any other housing, and that whether you rent or buy, you can expect a modern, high-quality home that you can afford.

“I’m proud that we’re putting these values into practice, working together with local people to invest in a new generation of social housing. There will also be a new public square, community facilities and affordable workspace in this next phase.”

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