Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Brownswood February update


Labour Group 16th January

At the last group meeting we set the budget for next year, including the council tax. While details remain confidential, you will be pleased to know that the council’s finances are sound and we were able to free up resources to begin implementation of most of our manifesto.

Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team

There has unfortunately been significant turnover in our police team in the last month. Sergeant Dave Bounds has taken over management of the team from Alison lapper who is on a six month secondment. PC Kelly Wood has left and been replaced.

Feryat and Brian attended the last CAP meeting on 10th January. Amongst key issues –
· an undercover operation on Blackstock Road for the fortnight before Xmas resulted in 15 arrests, mainly for handling stolen goods
· the anti social behaviour closure order on the abandoned parts of Kings Crescent, has been renewed for a further six months
· incoming calls to phoneboxes in Woodberry Grove, have been barred to discourage loitering. They also plan to try out a “mosquito” in the area.
· vice continues to significantly reduced on Brownswood Road

Woodberry Down

Issues recently raised by residents include-
· the narrowing of Seven Sisters Road
· is phasing really based on "worst first", particularly as they believe the Seven Blocks had been agreed as the worst?
· allegations about the values being offered to current leaseholders
· concerns about the possible loss of current shops on Woodberry Grove, and the time taken to provide replacement units in a later phase

All three councillors attended a further meeting with the Woodberry Grove retailers on 16th January. The retailers were presented with the proposed retail redevelopment and a retailers ‘offer’. Although the council have agreed to lower rents for the retail units and revisit some of the leasehold conditions, they are unable to offer more compensation or a first right of refusal on the new properties as they will be owned by the developer.

The retailers have been encouraged to approach the developer to enquire about the take up of the new shops (Berkley Homes have now opened an office in the shopping parade). The councillors are exploring ways in which they can support this communication.

Kings Crescent

The report is now due to go to the February Cabinet recommending development partners for Kings Crescent. This was delayed for a month to allow further work to be done on the financial models put forward by the competing partnerships. This was particularly important given the previous history of this estate.

Once a preferred partnership is selected, they will be expected to begin detailed negotiations with the residents and council on the future shape of the estate. As previously mentioned, the assumptions in the tendering process were that it likely to involve clearance of the Green Lanes frontage for redevelopment, and refurbishment of the blocks along Brownswood Road and Queens Drive for possible retention by the council. However this may be subject to change during those negotiations.

Following the deputation which we took to the Council in November, there is finally a detailed programme of works underway to tackle the backlog of maintenance. There is a meeting for residents on 30th January to explain what is planned.

The first 10 flats refurbished to the standards to which all the retained units will be, are due to be complete by 23rd February. Two will be used as show flats for a period, and the others available for decanting.

Negotiations towards establishing a permanent police shop on the estate are in the hands of the property services branches of both the MPS and Hackney, but will hopefully be concluded within the next few months.


The Hackney Gazette ran a positive piece on the work being done to regenerate Finsbury Park, which they picked up on from our blog!


The Spring Park Hotel sex encounter premises application was heard on Thursday 11th January. All three councillors attended. Darren and a number of residents spoke on behalf of Brownswood ward to oppose the application, while Tory Cllr Maureen Middleton spoke on behalf of New River residents. After long deliberation, the panel decided to grant the application with a number of conditions; an extremely disappointing result. The hotel was not granted an extension to its licence to serve alcohol though, and the sex encounter licence will be reviewed from March this year - giving us the opportunity to object if any of the feared problems connected to the licence do materialise.

Parkwood School

The school’s new playground got a special commendation in the recent Hackney Design Awards.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Kings Crescent and Alexandra National

Find previous reports here.

For those who have asked, here is a brief history of these schemes -

1)In March 2006, Cabinet granted approval to proceed to tender for selection of developer partners for the following estates:

Colville Estate
Kings Crescent Estate
Tower Court, Alexander National House, Randlesham, Ottaway Court, Bridge & Marian Courts (the Six Estates)

2) Seven Developer/RSLs were shortlisted and received tender documentations on 4th September. Tenders were returned on 27th November 2006.

3) In October groups of residents representatives and councillors visited development sites/completed schemes of the shortlisted candidates.

4) Tenders have been assessed on the basis of agreed evaluation criteria. The Evaluation Panel assessing the quality of tender submissions comprised resident representatives from each estate supported by their independent tenant and leaseholder advisors (ITLA), and officers with expert knowledge in different areas such as planning and construction training.

5) Financial viability assessment was carried out separately and independently.

6) This was followed by interview of, and presentations by, all bidders which took place on 12th and 13th December 2006.

7) Further meetings with residents’ representatives and their ITLAs are being arranged.

8) The selection process will be finalised shortly and a report will be submitted to the meeting of the Cabinet in February for decision.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

January update

from the Brownswood Councillors

Woodberry Down

The regeneration of Woodberry Down has taken another major step forward with the December Cabinet meeting agreeing to support the residents preferred option for the future. This (“Option 2”) would see a single housing association and development consortium selected to lead the process. They would be expected to establish an unique ‘Community Based Housing Association’ for Woodberry Down, and assist the campaign to win a stock transfer ballot.

As stated, this was the option strongly supported by the residents through their Estate Development Committee. “Option 3” which was chosen as the backup, sees ownership and management transferring incrementally. Just a reminder that the advantages include

· 4,316 new homes
· investment of approx 653 million
· new health centre and children’s centre
· new primary school and secondary school
· resident control of the social housing through the CBHA

There is a further meeting with the Woodberry Grove retailers scheduled for 16th January.

Kings Crescent

A report is now due to go to the February Cabinet recommending development partners for Kings Crescent, following a process including technical evaluation and interview of the housing associations and builders forming each of the partnerships by residents and officers. Once they have been chosen and the legal agreements completed, they will be expected to begin detailed consultation with residents on the regeneration plans. As previously mentioned this is likely to involve clearance of the Green Lanes frontage for redevelopment, and refurbishment of the blocks along Brownswood Road and Queens Drive for possible retention by the council.

However there is even better news. While most of the overall regeneration will be funded through the new partnership, we also put in a bid for a special London-wide fund for 2.5million to make an early start to some of that. The Government and London Mayor announced at the end of November, that this bid has been successful. This means that we can begin the refurbishment a year earlier than otherwise.

The intention is to make a start on the blocks along Brownswood Road as soon as a contract can be let. Demolition works on the further areas to be cleared should also commence in the new year.

Alexandra National House/ “Six estates”

Similarly the next couple of months should see a development partnership appointed for the package of six estates which includes Alexandra National. Because it covers six estates spread throughout Hackney, it difficult for anyone of have the same sense of ownership of these proposals and therefore possible the schemes will be developer-led.

For example one of those for Alexandra National involves new retail units at ground floor level, while another has a 20 storey tower block on the north-west corner, ie taller than the existing one.

Police Community Advisory Panel for Brownswood

The Police Community Advisory Panel meets every two months to give our safer neighbourhoods team and the wider police force, some direction as to what their priorities should be. It currently meets at 6.30pm on a Wednesday in a local school; the next one being on Wednesday 10th January.

Portland Rise and Amwell Court

Feryat attended the estate committee on 16th November.


The Spring Park Hotel sex encounter premises application is now scheduled for 7pm on Thursday 11th January. It was previously due to be heard at a daytime hearing in December but the councillors had this delayed to a more suitable time.

School results

Hackney’s results overall have continued to improve markedly year on year. But for the second time in three years, our local school Parkwood is in the top 2% nationally based on the scores below:

English Maths Science
Hackney average 71% 65% 76%
National average 79% 76% 87%
Parkwood primary 90% 87% 90%
(achieving Level 4 at age 11-12)

It should also be stressed that this extraordinary achievement was still based on a class which was significantly more deprived than even the Hackney average. Congratulations to all the pupils, families and staff.