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In defence of Hackney's window 'blunder'

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Bruce Rowling's letter (AJ 12.5.05) makes some misleading statements about 'threats' to Gore Road in Hackney, east London.

This followed the piece headed 'Window blunder pain for conservation area' (AJ 05.05.05) and it's a pity this was not accompanied by a photograph, which could have allowed your readers to decide for themselves whether the new windows at 104 Gore Road are indeed the 'thin end of an insidious wedge'.

The building had been squatted and had stood vacant for several years. The windows are double-glazed, but they are also wooden, painted and, in terms of design and appearance, in complete sympathy with this unlisted Victorian building.

The council has, over the past year, engaged with the Crown Estate to protect the appearance of the other 67 properties in Gore Road. It is true that agents advising the Crown Estate originally proposed the replacement of the windows in Gore Road because of the maintenance costs involved, but it was the council that persuaded the Crown Estate to abandon this approach.

We have achieved this result purely through negotiation, as the Crown Estate has until recently been exempt from planning control. Indeed, part of the debate on the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act has been to bring the Crown Estate in line with everyone else in terms of planning permission.

Hackney council remains committed to protecting the appearance of the Gore Road conservation area and we will continue to work with the Crown Estate to achieve this.

Sue Foster, London Borough of Hackney

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