107-117 & 133-141 Morning Lane E9 6LJ - Fashion Hub infill

107 - 117 & 133 - 141 Morning Lane London E9 6LJ

2013/4123 - 24 March 2014

By Nick Perry

2013/4123 - Full Planning Permission - Erection of a four storey building at 107-117 Morning Lane (west building situated at junction of Morning Lane and Churchwell Path) comprising 1464 sqm of retail floorspace (class A1); and erection of a four storey building at 133-141 Morning Lane (east building at junction of Morning Lane and Link Street) comprising 1003sqm of retail floorspace (combined total of 2467sqm of retail floorspace).

FAO: Russell Smith

The Hackney Society Planning Group broadly welcomed the concept of the Fashion Hub but had serious reservations about the location context and public realm improvements needed to guarantee its success. We identified the difficulties in 'joining up' the two 'sides' of the site across a busy Morning Lane.

This application completes an important part of the puzzle and links the plots that form the hub more solidly. Critical to this is the corner site at 191 Morning Lane which now has the opportunity to guide pedestrians in the railway arches towards Chatham Place via Churchwell Path, and discourage the crossing of the blind corner and often fast, Morning Lane. By creating active frontages between the railway arches and the northern elevations of the units at 133-141, and 107-117 Morning Lane, pedestrians will be largely constrained to this safe 'retail street'. The lower level and stepped access to the new pedestrian zone, that will be built in the gap at 189-201 will serve to encourage pedestrians to stay within the shared amenity space without unduly restricting light and a feeling of openness in the area.

However it is still vital that the local authority commit to a plan of public realm - in particular highways - improvements and initiatives to slow down traffic on Morning Lane and guide pedestrians and cyclists safely, and without conflict from Churchwell Path to Chatham Place. In 2011, Richard Lewis produced a filtering plan of the Chatham & Frampton Park area for Hackney LCC, showing how it could be filtered in stages. A plan such as this should be given high priority to relieve the speed and traffic density on Morning Lane and encourage pedestrian and cycling modes around the area at large.

In addition the semi-pedestrianised shared surfaces either side of Morning Lane will need to be carefully design to encourage shoppers to visit and wander safely without fear of colliding with traffic on Morning Lane and cyclists on Churchwell Path/Chatham Place. 

Also, the route for visitors arriving in Hackney Central and Hackney Downs stations, past St Augustine's Tower to Churchwell Path needs to be carefully planned, designed and signposted to encourage intercourse between Hackney Central's shopping centre and the Fashion Hub.

We cannot stress enough that these are important matters for the Local Authority to consider and implement ahead of completion of this and other developments in the area, in close collaboration with the applicant. The Council has made much media capital from the regenerative aspects of the Fashion Hub and it must play its part, unequivocally in giving this development every chance of success.

The design of the infill sites is, perhaps, something of a relief from the rather dark and imposing structures of the extant David Adjaye scheme opposite, and the modest height and massing of the infill buildings is wholly appropriate as a transition from the railway embankment level to the 8 storeys opposite.

Although there is no housing (indeed a net loss on the poor quality extant permission of the previous owner), the use is appropriate and the applicant is happy with a condition to limit the retail use to fashion only. These are important safeguards that will encourage every effort it brought to bear on ensuring the success of the Fashion Hub and avoid encouraging residential conversion in the future.

This page was added on 24/03/2014.