Locals protest against tram depot demolition

Locals protest against Tram Depot demolition Photo: David White

Locals protest against Tram Depot demolition Photo: David White

Local traders and artists in the old “Tram Sheds” in Clapton are campaigning against the demolition of the space to construct residential and retail buildings.

Housing developers had previously submitted a proposal to the Town Hall to demolish the tram shed and construct 92 residential units in the area, with retail space and car parking.

Built in 1882 for storing horse drawn trams, the Old Tram Depot is home to an art gallery, studio spaces and businesses including furniture makers and fabric suppliers.

Councillors Ian Rathbone, Linda Kelly, Deniz Oguzkanli from the Leabridge Ward organized a public meeting this week to discuss the fate of the property.

They said, “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.”

Mr. Ian Bailey from the Hackney Council Planning department was present to field questions from local traders and businessmen.

After listening to all the complaints, Mr. Ian Bailey was non-committal in his statement, saying: “Despite the official date of making complaints ending on the 14th of this month, the planning department would still accept them till the end of the procedure and take it on from there.”

Most of the traders in the area are concerned that there would be no plan to instate them in the area under the new scheme.

A spokesperson from the Vulpes Vulpes Art Gallery said, “We would love to continue in this area, it has been a great experience with the exhibitions and the interactions with the community so far, and we would definitely not want to let go of it.”

Other than the loss of designer and artist spaces, the objectors claim that the proposed plan will increase traffic congestion and will render over a hundred people unemployed.

David White, secretary of Beecholme & Casimir Tenants and Residents Association, said: “The demolition of the Tram Depot raises greater issues relating to both Clapton and the country.

“Although the Old Tram Depot site may not be of national importance, it is one of the few remaining examples of its type. It is part of our working heritage and once gone it is lost forever.”

An online campaign to get people to send letter of objections to the council has so far picked up 582 signatures.

After hearing people’s arguments, Mr. Bailey can now either reject the entire development proposal or forward the scheme for consideration by a special planning committee; the outcome of which would be expected sometime in March.

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