Community / Neighbourhood / Nimby Groups & the Planning Process”

This follows from another discussion regarding the Clapton (Palace) Pavilion / Ethiopian Church, but rather than hijacking the thread I’ve started this one to deal specifically with the role of local “community” “neighbourhood” “Nimby” groups (however one wishes to characterise them) and their role in the planning process. Personally I find some of their actions troubling in so much as; a) I’m not sure how representative they are of the local populace (I suspect not very). b) They sometimes portray themselves as being able to speak on behalf of the local populace as a whole eg  “Clapton Pond says No to Tesco” kind of thing. c) The involvement of local councillors in them. Their job as I see it is to represent residents concerns not to join or even run pro-active campaigning groups that are divisive in the community. d) More subjectively there does seem to me to be an air of assumed cultural superiority in the expression of their judgements as if a conservative heritage approach is the only option and anyone who opposes it is evil. Someone on the other thread pertaining to the new Ethiopian Church suggested there was “dodgy business” going on. I’ve no idea whether that’s true but I find it easy to see how some events can give that impression. I remember in the case of the proposal for the former toilets on Millfields Rd (which Clapton Pond Neighbourhood Action Group opposes) the planning department sent me a letter stating that the proposal was to be put to the planning committee with the recommendation that permission be granted. Then it was withdrawn – for no explicable reason – and has sat on the shelf ever since. I seem to remember that at the same time the neighbouring Pond House proposal with its pastiche/derivative terrace was also withdrawn from a hearing and then later approved even though it went against the council’s stated design aspirations as expressed by its Head of Conservation Urban Design and Sustainability. The Millfields Rd proposal still sits awaiting a decision almost 18 months after it was submitted even though it is in line with the statement of design aspiration from the Head of Conservation Urban Design and Sustainability. I think this looks dodgy.


  1. I think its good when the community can organise itself into a coherent bloc in order to encourage the best and prevent the worst of developments in an area. My major concern – bourne out I would have to say by opposition to the Ethiopian church, the Millfields developments and to a lesser extent the tram sheds – is that the community groups in our area are not representative of the community at all. Instead there appears to me to be something of an odd mix of architectural reactionarties and socialist/ anarchist agitators who oppose anything remotely private and anything remotely modern, to the point where physical violence against some establishments is actively encouraged. This is unhealthy, and in my opinion may need some organised opposition. Someone to watch the watchers, if you will.

  2. @gavinredknapPersonally, I think it’s more to do with snobbery than anything to do with a socialist/anarchist agenda (most of these groups would be in favour of private enterprise so long as it caters to their personal cultural tastes). And, in terms of opposition to housing provison, forcing up home prices.

  3. I dont think that the house price things is something that’s being actively sought, Benjamin. I think its an unfortunate by product of the obsession with anti high-rise.

  4. Possibly, but many of these groups are also pushing for family houses with gardens as opposed to flats (even low-rise) which would suggest they want a certain demographic.

  5. But putting their agendas aside and looking at their influence in the planning process itself;@ewebber suggests that \Councillors have no special powers when it comes to objecting to planning” which is technically true but I suggest it would be naive to think that there is no behind-the-scenes influence. I still think it suspicious that the derivative/pastiche of the terrace in the Pond House application gets approved even though it goes against stated design aspirations and yet the Millfields Rd toilet block proposal cannot get passed planning even though it had previously been recommended for approval by the planning office and it is in line with the design aspirations. I can’t help but wonder whether CPNAG – with it’s general preference for derivative/pastiche – is pulling strings behind the scenes.”

  6. I would remind all members, that the purpose of this website is to celebrate Hackney and create connections for positive action, it is not a place to air grievances with no goal aside from a negative thread on a forum. If you want to contribute to yeah! Hackney please remember this and keep to the spirit of the website. The rules are over here if anyone is in any doubt: There are many differing opinions and this is great but please respect this keep conversations constructive and allow other people to feel free to take part.”

  7. I find it remarkable that moderators on this site want to close down this discussion in the name of ‘positive action’. Debate IS positive action, closing down debate IS negative action. I also find it very odd that on numerous times on this site various people have shown various greivances toward all sorts of things with no admonishment whatsoever, whereas a thread which questions the objectives of organised ‘community’ groups immediatly gets smacked down. It cant all the time be about how great living in a ‘edgy’ area is or discussing cup cakes, and if you want to run a forum for the community, and claim it is FOR the community, then do your best to make sure it is representative of the community, and not just of yours and your mates own personal and political foibles.

  8. Thank you process in the group… I got carried away! Apologies

  9. Hi Admin, I dont think anyone has spoken out of turn or not abided by the rules. For to praise Hackney we have to correct the wrongs within society. if you have a house and the insides are rotten but you decorate the front the of the house of which people see, the house is still bad. but until you gut out the insides and decorate the whole house we can never fully praise that house/hackney. how many 1 and 2 bedroom flats in hackney are close to falling apart and has 4/5 people leaving in them and the council just puts some paint on the outside to make us (people who doesnt live there) think that its ok now. we have to address these issues!

  10. All debate is positive, as long as its meaningful. And i think this is particularly meaningful given that certain sections of the community have decided to appoint themselves guardians of that community and in doing so sought to influence decision makers in local government. When there is a cabal of these community groups appearing to work together to this end, and when there are, as Benjamin suggests, frankly odd decisions going on at the local council level, when local Councillors have been appointed to their ranks and when local forum administrators seek to close down discussion about it – well, i think then, more than ever, its positive; indeed, its essential. It beats cup cake recipes anyway.

  11. As I have said, I agree debate is good as long as people are respectful of others’ opinions and don’t make negative comments without offering actions towards a proposed solution. I started this independent website to encourage positive actions which is why the rules are as such, please respect this when you are using it. I have never seen a cupcake recipe on here yet, but I welcome people sharing them if they want to.

  12. For those who may be relatively new to this forum, and in the interests of honest and open debate I think it worth pointing out here that @YeahHackney is run by @ewebber who is also a planning committee member of CPNAG.

  13. I am not a member of the CPNAG committee, nor is CPNAG a planning committee. yeah! Hackney is an independent website that has no specific affiliations with any committee. I am very transparent about who I am online, although not everyone in this conversation is.

  14. @yeahhackney My \proposed solution” is to have a free debate and so raise awareness.”

  15. Er, am I missing something…why are you attacking @ewebber? This started as a potentially interesting debate and has quickly changed into a rant. I don’t really think we are going to increase representation by saying some views are valid and others aren’t in a \ your opinion is wrong style…” what is really eating you @benjamin?”

  16. \I am not a member of the CPNAG committee”. Then apologies @ewebber I thought I’d remembered you stating sometime ago that you were. Am I correct in stating that you’re an active CPNAG member?”I am very transparent about who I am online although not everyone in this conversation is.”Who do you mean? There’s only a handfull of us in it so far.”

  17. @katenelson I’m not the one trying to close down debate – I was simply trying to provide some vital context regarding those that do. Hardly an \attack”.”

  18. We’ve only just started this debate, can we leave personal recriminations til a bit later? I dont believe that anyone involved in local community groups as already described is in it for personal gain. I do believe as Euan said, that its a case of passionate people. However, whether you like it or not, there is the law of the land to contend with, and when there is any suggestion that the law is being bent or bypassed, it is important to look into that. Can anyone shed some more light on this issue – in accusation or defence – without casting aspersions?

  19. Anyone who writes \There does seem to me to be an air of assumed cultural superiority in the expression of their judgements” has a nerve complaining about NIMBYS. How representative are they of the local populace? ( I suspect not very).”

  20. So what you’re saying hackneylad is that only people who talk a bit posh are NIMBYs? In this instance I have to agree with you (albeit not for the original point), in that I reckon the opinions of long term residents of this borough are not being heard enough in any local forums.

  21. No doubt aboiut it, the character is being torn out of Hackney. The lovely run down bits i like (not the run down bits I don’t like, of course), the grafitti ( but not that wonderful, new, self knowing stuff, of course), the quaint local shops I never go in, that sell stuff I never buy,( not those lovely folksey, historic street markets that have been around for at least oooh, 6 years now)  crime ( how dare they? What kudos can i now have with my mates from safe bits of the country) the sense front line living ( I love the Clash)  But then i’m a selfish bugger, who hasn’t a clue what  Hackney’s steadfastly unmobile residents ( aka the majority) want, which is probably shopping malls, high street chains,more Morrisons (Stamford Hill is sooooo lucky!!) a tube station on every corner, affordable houses, more affordable houses…….did I mention shopping malls? Give me back my Hackney! If I’d known they were going to screw it up i wouldn’t have moved here!!

  22. I’ve just joined Yeah Hackney but the impression I get from this exchange is that it’s long on bitching and short on action. People, get off your behinds and do something useful.

  23. I’ve just joined Yeah Hackney but the impression I get from this exchange is that it’s long on bitching and short on action. People, get off your behinds and do something useful.

  24. \Anyone who writes “There does seem to me to be an air of assumed cultural superiority in the expression of their judgements” has a nerve complaining about NIMBYS. How representative are they of the local populace? ( I suspect not very).”But I’m not making any claims of representing the neighbourhood @hackneylad“…I reckon the opinions of long term residents of this borough are not being heard enough in any local forums”. In agreement there @gavinredknap

  25. it’s remarkable the conclusions people make to other peoples comments. it’s like they cannot read and then just make something up to back their own argument up.go outside, have a walk, get a life.actually enjoy the place you live in, if you can’t, change it or move.@benjamin then what exactly are you complaining about?I also feel that in people not being open or transparent they were talkaing about you, who has such strength in your convictions, you are unwilling to advertise what you look like.@gavin you clearly have too much time on your hands as well as an enormous chip on your shoulder.

  26. Actually, dawntreda, I am quite busy, but having lived in the area for a number of years I have seen this issue come up time and time again and I think its reaching a bit of an apex with the Ethiopian church saga – therefore I’m happy to be involved at this point. Is it alright with you if we discuss it seriously, without name calling?

  27. Yes, it would be nice to read a counterpoint that wasn’t simply casting baseless aspersions or just plain trolling.

  28. im not aware i called anyone any names. @Gavin, there will always be groups and counter groups, what with all the acronyms etc it feels like walking into the life of brian (no religious offence meant) people have a right to form committies, and debate what they will,  and shock horror, not living in a country where we are forced to believe a set of ideas if we choose not to, councillors are perfectly within their rights to join committies, the subject of change to our political system, thus disallowing said councillors from joining them,  seems a topic too heavy and irrelevent to what is ostensibly a local forum celebrating an area.i am sorry if you feel my flippance and possibly irritation caused offence. @benjamin having read all of your posts i find it hypocritical that you object about baseless aspersions.which are the baseless aspersions that i am casting?again I am sorry if you misinterperate my flippence or irritation as ‘trolling\.the thing about trolls is they usually hide behind an assumed name or picture i am quite happy to advertise who i am and stand by what i say.throughout your posts you clutch onto  the fact that the building was originally a brewery it takes away nothing from the fact it was an early example of cinema.but to you this seems proof of a major political scandal and dodgy business. which just seems a silly view to take. I am sorry if my opposing opinion to yours offends.i think it is a shame that the proposed work to the building will in my opinion not be a very sensitive addition that is my right as a human being as is yours  to support it.i agree that if that the owners should be able to do what they want with it within reason. but people are free to object and if in that objection they alienate themselves from people who do not object  so be it. it is the joy of living in a country open to debate. “

  29. I think the Ethiopan Church could be a beautiful event focussed centre of culture AND enthusiasm!! We the people of this borough need to encourage more, kind of, ASSOCIATION! This borough is about overcoming each others under failings and accepting that what goes around GOES AROUND! Its time for us to ASSOCIATE when we try to integrate! Am I alone here?????

  30. dawntreda, I dont think you really got the point there. Yes there are a number of acronym heavy groups – let’s see – CPNAG, CAT, FCCT, CIS (not the insurer), CRTRA and of course the MUGs, but the question was whether these are representative of the area, or whether they lean to heavily toward their own member’s agendas. The sheer number of groups may suggest some diversity in opinion, but I believe that there is a lot of cross-group participation that may mean that6 is not the case. Benjamin highlights some questionable planning decisions (or lack of) that suggest some influence is being gained at the planning level, which, given the (perceived) agenda of the pressure groups, is potentially worrying.

  31. @dawntreda Are you sure you’ve read the thread?The initial post lists my primary concerns. I’m not in the slightest bit offended by someone taking an opposing view to mine – but that’s not the point here. Of course people are entitled to form groups and hold any opinion they wish, but they are not entitled to pretend to speak on behalf of the community or attempt to exert undue influence on local government. This thread isn’t about whether or not you like the proposed architectural changes.Nowhere in this thread do I mention the brewery, all which makes me wonder whether you are just trolling.

  32. @Gavin, I understand fully thank you, I just disagree.that is not to say I agree with the judean peoples front or indeed the peoples front of judea, I just think that they believe they ARE representing their community (sorry to refer to another post: just as the ethiopian church believes it has the community’s best interests at heart) . it may be misguided or in other people’s opinion wrong, but there are hints at a conspiracy and these groups would have to be far better organised and not the village council mung bean eaters that i suspect the majority are. what is dangerous is thinking that because a groups views differ from a personal set of beliefs they are unconnected with the community as a whole. i think i am asking, why do you feel your view is more representative of the community? i think one usually find cross group pollination in groups that are basically dealing with the same or similar subjects. it follows reason, however anyone can set up one of the meaningless acronyms and argue the toss in a public debate to their hearts content.@benjamin, i thought you set this thread up to complain about nimbys? no, then my mistake. i guess the title is a tad confusing, i think the point is that the groups feel they are representing ‘their’ community. people tend to assume they speak for the an aside, i am not trolling, nor am i a 12 year old and find such terms to be childish at best, a way of shutting down communication that one does not like. I don’t remember accusing you of trolling re your comments about others on (i’m sorry)  another post. sorry if that offends, but as i think i said, i am happy to say these things to your face, therefore not ‘trolling’. maybe a contrarian but not troll. i suspect a large proportion of residents in hackney couldn’t care less about proposed works on old toilets or churches etc, and therefore it will always be left to the partizans to battle it out.if you wish i will repost said post in the previous thread.

  33. dawntreada, I don not presuppose that my views are representative of the Community (god forbid that they were, to be frank). Others it seems, do. That’s not such a bad thing, potentially, as long as you do your best to reflect the communities views, but the examples of the church and the Millfields site suggest that is not the case. You might like another indie cinema, but do you really think the working class community (which still makes up the majority of the populace in Hackney) do? Why not then allow the place to be turned into an Ethiopian church, which are, if you hadn’t noticed, pretty thin on the ground in London. Same things with the Millfields space – why does it have to be a pastiche of Victorian architecture, when the immeditae area has examples running from georgian to art deco (kind of)? Further, I view any charge of corruption with suspicion but can anyone convincingly explain why the correct planning process appears not to have followed with these places?

  34. so what about these cupcake recipes

  35. @Gavin, well said,id be happy with just a normal cinema to be fair, and also despite my picture showing a besuited moustachioed figure i am in fact  working class. i am a tailor. i also pay council tax, live in the area and have family connections there going back some 150 years.whilst i agree that ethiopian churches are pretty thin on the ground, every other type of church are not, but then i am phobic to organised religion, so am biased.i also think that the proposed work will look gaudy at best and rather disney at worst. my class affects not my aesthetic taste.BUT it is their right to do what they will with the right say so etc etc .@lizzie mmmmm. i made some lovely brownies.

  36. Gavin and Benjamin – Lads, I really think you’d be much happier moving to that nice Olympic development site a mile or so down the road which seems to encapsulate much of what you hold dear –  high rise flats, lots of glass and plastic, a complete absence of tedious old buildings and some nice corporate types for neighbours with whom you can discuss the reactionary working class over a chilled glass of white wine.

  37. dawntreda – I couldnt really comment on what it will turn out like, all ive seen is the outline plans. If done sympathetically it could be a really interesting use of the building, but if anyone has some detailed plans with the actual materials being used I’d love to be able to see for myself. hackneylad – ‘tedious’ old buildings I dont mind – in fact I live in one. New buildings that simply ape old building styles can be tedious however, and can be a waste of an opportunity to juxtapose a good example of new architecture against good examples of old. That’s one of the great things about London; the building on top of history with the best of each era (hopefully) retained while the not so great makes way for something new and hopefully better. Anyway, what’s really tedious is being trolled by someone who either has no interest in the subject or has not yet acquainted himself enough with it to be able to offer any useful opinions. And get your facts right – the reactionaries I was referring to are some of the people in local community groups, who, as you no doubt aren’t aware, aren’t typically working class. The glass of wine I dont mind, however.

  38. @hackneyladThis thread isn’t about our subjective tastes. It’s about how some local campaigning groups conduct themselves. Is it good that some pretend to represent the neighbourhood as a whole, when there is no evidence that they do? Is it good when our local councillors become involved in the running of these pressure groups that might be representing a minority at the expense of the majority? Why do many anti-development campaigners criticise councillors’ involvement with PR companies (eg. Cllrs Laing and Alcock with 4comms) representing developers when councillors are also highly involved in anti-development groups?

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