Residents and community groups are fighting a canalside redevelopment plan in Hackney, which could leave more than 20 people homeless.
They say the plan by Orsman Properties LLP to redevelop studio buildings on the southern side of the Regent’s Canal in Orsman Road in Hackney will disrupt the local community and the unique canalside atmosphere of the area.
At the moment, the studios comprise range of two to three storey industrial buildings used for a mix of commercial and residential activities.
The application from planning agency CMA Planning reveals that the redevelopment plan includes a conversion of four existing residential units to new and refurbished workspace and erection of a six-storey building to create seven dwellings.
If Hackney Council approves the planning application, 20-25 residents are set to lose their homes.
Residents in the affected buildings said they were reluctant to speak to Eastlondonlines fearing they could be evicted, but one resident said the redevelopment plan “will completely break apart the community in Hackney” and that it’s “a complete disregard for the people who’ve made a home there and have made huge contributions to the area.”
Friends of Regent’s Canal, a group caring for the upkeep of the Regent’s Canal, have also objected to the plans.
Ian Shacklock, from the group, says the objection “didn’t need much persuasion” as everybody present at the meeting earlier this month “were shocked” to see the picture of the proposed development.
Shacklock said the planning application “lacked serious consideration for the area’s residents” and called the plan “very aggressive and conspicuous social cleansing.”
There is no mention of the new residential units becoming affordable homes. Shacklock said he found it difficult to see how the redevelopment can help Hackney Council housing issues when the space is neither being offered to public use nor will be affordable homes for people on the housing waiting list.
Objectors say the stretch near Orsman Road is unique because the remaining industrial buildings blend in well with the canal. Many local people fear that the area will become bland and sterilised if redevelopments continue to turn older buildings into modern blocks overlooking the canal.
One resident, who asked to remain anonymous, expressed concerns about the small community garden at the front of the site, which is the last remaining green space on that stretch of the south side of the canal.
“The canal is a place where people go for a breath of fresh air when they’re fed up with uniform streets and buildings and traffic noises,” Shacklock said, adding that the redevelopment plan is “robbing them of that.”
He added: “We don’t want to say no to all changes… any home needs maintenance and restoration, but there must be some smaller scale compromises that can be done.”
Hackney Council said it could not comment on the objections as the application was still under consideration.
The developers have not responded to Eastlondonlines’ requests for a comment.