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Hackney housing scheme suffers 'tortuous' planning ordeal - images

Highbury's Walker Bushe Associates has finally gained permission for a residential scheme in Hackney, east London, after a 'tortuous' three-year planning process.

The project is to be built on a backland site to the rear of a 1930s semi-detached property, but the scheme's developer is said to be 'utterly disillusioned' by the planning process and is unsure whether to continue.

The scheme, submitted for planning permission three years ago, was challenged by Hackney Council, which thought the architect and developer were keeping the building below the threshold of affordable housing.

'We spent nearly all our time negotiating over affordable housing,' said Tim Bushe of Walker Bushe Associates. 'Then, a year later, the affordable housing mandate was changed.'

The practice struggled to implement the council's required changes and finally got everything agreed with the project manager, but 'at the last minute, the head of planning came in and decided we still didn't have enough affordable housing', said Bushe.

'We lost it with them and decided to appeal. It was a tortuous time, but thankfully we had a sane planning inspector who eventually granted us planning.'

The practice hoped to have the 20-flat scheme on site in the next six months. But Bushe said the developer 'has been led a merry dance for three years and has had to foot the bill. If someone offered them a way out now they would take it.

'It is the first residential scheme they have been involved in and they have been left utterly disillusioned by the whole thing.'

The five-storey development includes one, two, three, and four-bedroom flats, with family homes on the ground floor.

by Richard Vaughan

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