Plans for a new Graham Road entrance at Hackney Central Station are not green or ambitious enough, according to Garden of Earthly Delights, a community garden project allied to Extinction Rebellion and the site’s current occupiers.
The plans were approved and “welcomed” by the council at its planning sub-committee on December 2, but volunteers from the “Garden of Earthly Delights” maintain that they are “disappointed”.
The approval came after a cyberattack to Hackney’s website caused the initial application to be lost, and aims to combat congestion at the often packed station by providing an alternative to the station’s Amhurst Road Entrance.
The new entrance is set to open in late 2021 and the design includes a water fountain, cycle hub, kiosk and staff refuge.
The Garden of Earthly Delights took over the empty site, which is owned by the council, in 2019 with the aim of raising awareness of derelict spaces. They launched a petition in October to “Make Hackney Central London’s First Green Station,” which has reached over 1,250 signatures.
The petition says: “Whereas we do appreciate the attempt to incorporate a few green elements [of natural design], we must say all in all we are disappointed with the current proposal.”
It adds: “We would like to see more use of natural materials like wooden structures and particularly reclaimed materials.”
While the group say they understand the need to improve the station, they are saddened that their proposal for the new entrance to be integrated with the garden has not been accepted, as it would have been London’s greenest entrance.
A report done by consultancy firm TTPP (Trevor Patrick Partnership) found that the plans do account for a “suitable habitat for nesting birds”, and said it will not interfere with any of the nearby conservation areas – there is no ancient woodland within a kilometre of the site.
However, the garden’s director Maria-Chiara Piccinelli – an architect who runs PiM Studio Architects, a London based international firm, and has taught at the London School of Architecture – said: “They’re just ticking the boxes, there’s nothing really revolutionary.”
She accepted that there may be concerns about cost for TfL, but said: “It’s a temporary solution that has no ambitious construction resources. It uses zero renewable resources. It’s not the right approach.”
She said: “It’s a question of principles, cheap construction is just offsetting the cost”. She also said that she feels the pandemic has highlighted society’s need to be more connected with nature.
The new entrance has been largely welcomed by the council. Labour Councillor for Dalston, Peter Snell, said the “station has been designed in a way as to address immediate need”.
While the station will continue to be accessible for wheelchair users via the Amhurst Road entrance, the new entrance will not have step-free access although space has been left for a lift.
Councillor Mike Levy, Conservative Leader of the Opposition at the council has raised concerns about the local council-owned car park which is on Amhurst Road and said there are not enough adequately labelled disabled parking spots.
He said he would like at least 2 per cent of the parking spaces to be marked out for disabled motorists, to “reflect the local population as a minimum”. Otherwise, he argues, “we are not serving our disabled residents well.”