Charedi group takes on Hackney Council

February 3, 2011
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Strictly Orthodox organisations in Stamford Hill are presenting a united voice against stringent Hackney Council planning policies.

The Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, Agudas Israel Housing Association, Agudas Israel Community Services and the Interlink Foundation have teamed up in the Stamford Hill Coalition for Planning Change, which also involves local councillors and activists.

The group believes its cause will be helped by the Localism Bill, going through Parliament, which aims to shift power from government to communities.

It wants rewritten planning guidance for the area following a recent series of tightened regulations on residential extensions and alterations.

Group founder and Yesodey Hatorah School head Rabbi Avraham Pinter said its establishment reflected "concern that the local authority doesn't fully understand the needs of the community and hasn't adequately responded. The idea is to work together to find a consensus of what the area needs.

"The community has made its views known to the council and they have not taken it into account. But through the new Localism Bill, we hope this will happen. There is a need for larger houses and for people to extend their homes.

"People living in this area understand what is best for the community."

The group also opposes "heavy handed and disproportionate" enforcement action and the new Cazenove conservation area, which is bringing more restrictions.

Agudas Israel Housing Association chief executive Ita Symons said: "You would expect the council to welcome privately funded expansion of the borough's housing stock through extensions to residents' homes. Instead, there is a crackdown."

Interlink director Chaya Spitz argued: "With so much enforcement action concentrated in Stamford Hill, the council needs to do more to engage with the Charedi community.

"We would like to work collaboratively with the council to resolve differences about planning rules and we welcome the Localism Bill as it will give people greater control over planning policies."

A Hackney Council representative said the council had adopted "a consistent approach to loft extensions across the borough.

"The residential extensions supplementary policy document, which went through extensive consultation before being adopted, sets out clear guidance on the different forms of loft extension that are permissible depending on the type of house and location."

Last updated: 2:39pm, February 3 2011