Objections to the Canalside Studios proposals

From Ian Shacklock, Friends of Regent's Canal

For the attention of: Barry Coughlan,
Hackney Planning Service,
2 Hillman Street, London E8 1FB.

Dear Barry,

I am writing on behalf of the Friends of Regent's Canal to object to the plans to redevelop 2-4 Orsman Road. This follows a discussion on this topic at our recent public meeting at the London Canal Museum. Our aims as a group are to promote and protect the canal and two of the features that we are passionate about protecting are wildlife and industrial heritage.

The buildings at Canalside Studios, along with the green corridor along its bank, are special features that epitomise the charm and character of the canal. They are particularly precious now that the majority of the surrounding buildings in that part of Hackney have been replaced by bland residential blocks that have no interaction with the canal. I accept that there is no public access to this site but nevertheless the public still benefits from the view of these buildings from the towpath and their unique features never fail to catch the eye of passers-by. I also accept that parts of the buildings are in need of modest restoration and repair, but there is no justification for replacing the ground floor frontages with office-style glazing or for planting a six-storey modern structure right on the edge of the canal.

These proposals offer no obvious public benefits. There will be a net gain of only three dwellings and none of them have been flagged as affordable. Four unique dwellings will be sacrificed.

We object strongly to the proposed six-storey structure. It is the wrong type of building for the canal, it is the wrong size and in the wrong location. It will overshadow the surrounding buildings and will convert the only open space on this stretch of the canal into a claustrophobic spot. It is unfair on the neighbours and on all types of canal users.

We object to plans to replace the small garden area with decking. The current arrangement works well and helps to sustain a small local community, in complete contrast to other parts of the canal such as Gainsborough Studios which are invariably deserted.

Some of us have strong reservations about plans to provide mooring in front of these buildings because this will block views of this interesting waterfront (from both sides of the canal) and it could impede navigation under the bridge.

We disagree with any claims that the design is sensitive to the character of the area. This is a Conservation Area and these buildings provide current and future generations with a rare connection to Hackney's industrial past. If the proposed designs were sympathetic to the site then the taller building would be stepped back away from the canal and efforts would be made for it to blend in with its surroundings instead of burying them from view. There simply is not enough room on this site for an ambitious development without destroying its positive features.

I would like to congratulate the architects on their imagination and I hope that they will find sites in less sensitive locations where they can experiment more freely with their designs. I would also like to engage in a more constructive consultation where we can explore more modest and acceptable proposals for this site without displacing communities or making a mockery of our heritage and open spaces. Meanwhile, I trust that the council will reject this application unconditionally.


Ian Shacklock.
Chair, Friends of Regent's Canal

From Dave Bedford, Lower Regents Coalition


Please accept this email as my objection to the above referenced planning application. I do not think this should be granted because of the following reasons:

1 - This building will cause irreversible damage to the local area as well as the character and appearance of the Regent's Canal Conservation Area

2 - The development will bring a permanent loss of a community unique to Hackney, these areas need to be preserved

3 - The building will cause a substantial loss of sunlight and daylight to the surrounding residential properties and more importantly the canal, this will affect wildlife and plants.

I look forward to the council making the correct decision in this case

All the best
Dave Bedford

From Carolyn Clark, community historian

I am writing to oppose the proposal for Canalside Studios as it would be a blight on the Regent's Canal Conservation area, the existing and future generations will lose a significant amenity and the delicate local ecology and wildlife will be substantially threatened.

To elaborate:

I ran a project for Laburnum Boat Club with young people last year on the heritage of the canal. Orsman Road was originally Canal Road and is Hackney's only remaining road, besides sections of Eagle Wharf which similarly under threat, which demonstrate the historical relationship of the Canal to the area. We used it extensively in the project, and it is an important part of our educational work. The few remaining old buildings in Orsman road are a jewel as young people could grasp the industrial architecture and purpose, how integral the buildings and the canal were and the contribution made to the development of the area. Living history is a much used term but this brings it to life - and should do so for future generations.

In addition to above, it is clearly an industrial space and the Canal is essentially part of our industrial history, as shown in the attached GOAD insurance plan of 1891. However, very few structures/buildings remain which can be used to demonstrate this as part of both educational work but also in helping to create the sense of pride people have in the area, helping to foster a sense of continuity and belonging. A sea of flats along water, which we are heading towards, wipes out that sense of the past. When is the point when enough is enough?

The open yard/space is integral to the wharf enabling the canalscape to be seen and understood. This is one of the few remaining wharves where you can still see the loading and unloading function.

This open space also allows ecology and wildlife to flourish. Habitats for waterfowl and plants linked to the canal are disappearing at a fast rate to such an extent they are endangered.

The Studios provide work opportunities in an area which is still one of the 10% most deprived in the UK. Shoreditch has lost many of the buildings which housed industries providing employment opportunities. It's transition over the years, including the Stone Wharf shown in the GOAD insurance Plan of 1891, has always involved employment.

Carolyn Clark

From Del Brenner, Regents Network

See this five page document in PDF format.
Regents Network Response to Orsman Road Application.pdf