Olive School / Former Hackney Police Station, Lower Clapton Rd, E5 0PA

Former Hackney Police Station, Lower Clapton Road

2015/3306 - 20 Nov 2015

2015/3306 - Full Planning Permission - Change of use and refurbishment of listed building; demolition of rear buildings; and three storey new build; to provide a new primary school with associated playspace, access, servicing and cycle parking.

The Clapton CAAC and Hackney Society Planning Group have considered this scheme together.

The principle of school use (notwithstanding any non-planning concerns over the principle of 'free' schools and the lack of adequate play space) is sound and more in keeping with the ethos of public and community use that would be a retail or residential use.

In architectural and design terms the scheme proposed is sound. Indeed it makes good use of the space and proposes restoration of features of the extant police station previously harmed by the Crown's immunity from the planning system. The new additions are well articulated and respect the listed building satisfactorily, being appropriately set back from the site boundary. We have minor concerns over the precise colour of the materials for the new addition along Churchwell Path, and favour a darker palette in keeping with the extant permission on the opposite side of the church yard (the former Scout Hut). We suggest these are addressed by reserving matters and the provision of sample materials.

The boundary wall is an important feature of the church gardens and whilst it remains mostly untouched but, we are surprised by proposals to retain and enlarge the problematic side entrance to the car park. Herein lie our gravest concerns over the proposals. The school seeks to accommodate 630 pupils (4-11 years old) and up to 65 staff, plus visitors. This raises significant practical issues, which if not adequately addressed could significantly harm the amenity of the church ground, the much-used cycling and walking routes along Churchwell Path, parking and traffic flow and cause considerable disruption to the immediate neighbours.

The Operational Plan recognises the difficulties and seeks to address them, but we remain unconvinced that the plan works and can be adhered to. It seeks to 'encourage' travel by public transport and by foot and through car sharing - but encouragement does not assure it. Indeed even mandating it would not assure low levels of disruption as there is little the school can do to prevent individual drop-offs by car. In fact, the Council-run car parks on the adjacent site (which we'd be delighted to see removed) rather encourage it.

Furthermore it seeks to constrain delivery and servicing within strict parameters that are not feasible in the unpredictable traffic chaos of London. A constraint on deliveries can, in practical terms, mean little more than lorries staying parked up further down the road, causing an obstruction elsewhere.

In essence we have considerable concern over the intensity of the use. All the paper planning in the world cannot address the physical difficulty of managing the movements of 700 people into a building this constrained without causing significant, sustained disruption. We urge the school to consider a smaller intake and rationalise use of the entrances (in particular, removal of the side entrance along Churchwell Path), and for the Council to pay particular heed to the concerns of the immediate neighbours whose amenity is at risk. There is patently a pressing need for school places but the applicant may have to accept that the significant constraints of this site do not allow them to provide as many as they hoped.

The Hackney Society Planning Group
The Clapton Conservation Areas Advisory Committee

This page was added on 20/11/2015.