The latest plans for the regeneration of Woodberry Down will be reconsidered in line with updated planning policy, Hackney Council has confirmed.

The Council’s Planning Committee approved the third phase of the regeneration – which included 117 homes for social rent and 126 for shared ownership – in April, subject to confirming Section 106 obligations, which set out the contributions that the developer must pay and control levels of affordable housing, and a decision from the Mayor of London. The Section 106 obligations remain under negotiation.

However, the adoption of the Council’s new Local Plan – which sets the overall planning policy framework for the borough – following a Full Council meeting on 22 July means that some planning applications may have to be reconsidered against these new policies by the Planning Committee.

This includes the application for Woodberry Down, which is set to be reconsidered at a meeting of the committee on 9 September. A statutory consultation process on the application began this week. The Council’s Planning service is currently reviewing whether other applications will need to be subject to the same process.

The Council and developer Berkeley Homes have made a joint commitment that a tree that was due to be removed as part of the proposals – known locally as the Happy Man Tree – will not be damaged or removed until the process is completed.

The Council has asked the Woodberry Down Community Organisation – which represents residents in the regeneration partnership – to call a board meeting where members and local people will be able to hear more about the background to the application and ask questions about the proposed removal of the tree. The Council has previously set out the reasons why the proposed removal is necessary.

The planning application was submitted following more than a year of consultation with local people – including dozens of workshops, exhibitions and open days. The designs were agreed by a Design Committee made up of local residents, council officers, and Notting Hill Genesis and Berkeley Homes staff. 

The ‘Happy Man Tree’ had been identified for removal for more than a decade, and although no concerns were raised in previous extensive consultation, when the issue was raised last year, the application was paused and a series of workshops were held with elected resident representatives to look at other options for the design of the scheme. An independent report was also commissioned to understand the impact of the loss of the tree and what mitigation measures would mean for the biodiversity of the area. This report, submitted as part of the application, details that the mitigation measures put in place would have a net benefit on biodiversity on the estate. After months of workshops and meetings, it became clear that there was not a way to avoid removing the tree without causing a 15-month delay to the construction of affordable housing, and a redesign of the project.

The submitted application includes the planting of 175 new trees as well as the equivalent of 29 tennis courts of new open spaces, including a new fully public park. 

The plans also propose 4,135sqm of biodiverse green and brown roofs, including vegetation and planting, as well as an energy centre to provide low-carbon heat for the entire estate and 1,060 new cycle parking spaces.

The Council has separately committed to planting 35,000 new trees across the borough by 2022, including over 5,000 new street trees – as well as switching to 100% clean energy, reallocating roads for green spaces and supporting low-carbon transport. 

To view the application and comment on the plans, visit the Council’s Planning pages and search for application 2019/2514.

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