New pictures from Springfield Park restoration project

New pictures have been released showing the £4m project to improve Springfield Park as it nears completion. 

The project will see the historic Springfield House restored, a large new community and events space and workspace created in the park’s old stable block, a new park playground and improved landscaping around the park. 

With around three months left of the project, the Mayor of Hackney visited with project architect Malcolm McGregor from PRS Architects, officers from the Council’s parks and leisure service, and main contractor Borras Construction. 

Grade II listed Springfield House is undergoing a full restoration as part of the project, with floors, doors, and walls restored to their 19th Century glory. 

A new brick-built extension will house the cafe’s kitchen, toilets and new public toilets for the park. 

In the yard, the house’s former stable block is being converted into new workspace, and a new community and event space is being built partly from reclaimed brick. 

The space has been designed in cooperation with local people, and is suitable for all types of ceremonies and celebrations, including for the local Charedi community. 

Within the new building, there is a ceremony space and a large event space, which can also be partitioned into three smaller rooms. 

Any income from these buildings will then be reinvested back into maintaining the park.

The restoration project is funded by a £3.3m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, £20,000 from the Historic Houses Foundation, £250,000 from the London Marathon Charitable Trust and £725,000 from Hackney Council. 

Springfield Park officially opened as a public park in 1905, and was formed from the grounds of three private houses, including Springfield House, which remains today. It is one of the borough’s 27 Green Flag parks and green spaces.

More information can be found at www.hackney.gov.uk/springfield-park.

Delivering genuinely affordable housing will be put at risk by Government proposals to reform the planning system, Hackney Council warns ministers

The Mayor of Hackney has hit out at Government planning reform proposals, which risks allowing developers to deliver fewer genuinely affordable homes, in a letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

In the letter to the Government, the Mayor has expressed strong opposition to the planning proposals, warning that they are undemocratic, removing local control and accountability and hindering the Councils’ ability to deliver genuinely affordable housing; a view that is shared across London and wider Local Government.

The Government claims the Planning for the Future White Paper will simplify the national planning system in order to speed up the process and significantly boost the delivery of new homes, but the Council has raised concerns about a number of the proposals that would risk the delivery of genuinely affordable homes and community participation in the Planning process, including;

  • The Government’s new First Home product will be defined as affordable housing, despite First Homes not technically being affordable. They are effectively market houses that will be sold at 70% of the market value. Put simply they are a form of subsidised, discounted market housing, in no way genuinely affordable and reheat of the discredited Starter Homes programme. 
  • The proposals state that the first 25% of all new affordable housing must come in the form of First Homes. Only once those have been delivered will we be able to seek our genuinely affordable homes. This effectively prices local residents out of their local housing market and will weaken Hackney’s ability to deliver council and social housing. 
  • Proposals that Local Planning Authorities and registered providers pay developers, up-front, to deliver new affordable homes on site. There is very little detail as to how the Government sees this working and forces Councils to take all the risk up front by paying for these homes in advance and without the ability to properly shape and design these homes. 

The Planning for the Future paper seeks to profoundly change the planning system as the Government continues to argue that the national Planning system is failing and broken beyond repair, but the Council has pointed to their Planning successes in delivering growth, adopting an up-to-date and sound Local Plan earlier this year and positively engaging with local communities as part of the plan-making process which has resulted in the delivery of sustainable neighbourhoods.

The Mayor called on the Government to instead intervene in out of control land values and the development industry’s “on-going manipulation of housing supply”, with a quarter of all residential planning permissions in Hackney since 2012 having never been built on. The Mayor highlighted that this is impacting the delivery of genuinely affordable homes, and called for a prioritisation of social rent homes.

By centralising development policy-making and taking it away from Local Authorities, the Government’s proposals take this right away from residents, and their elected representatives, leading to imposed plans and imposed and inappropriate development. Local residents and communities will become disenfranchised, not able to take ownership of future plans or embrace new development as it won’t meet the needs of residents.

The full letter to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government sits alongside the Council’s detailed response to the new Planning White Paper which can be found below.

 

Camera enforcement to start at Homerton traffic filter

Drivers will face fines for driving through the Ashenden Road traffic filter from next week, as a camera is installed to support people to walk, cycle and shop in the local area.

The filter on Ashenden Road is one of three installed in the Homerton area to protect local residents from high levels of traffic using residential roads.

They are part of the Council’s plans to rebuild a greener Hackney after the coronavirus pandemic, supporting all residents – including the 70% of households who do not own a car – to walk and cycle locally, and helping to prioritise space on public transport for those who need it.

All of the measures have been introduced for a trial period of 18 months under experimental traffic orders – with local residents encouraged to have their say online or in writing. This is in line with guidance from the Department for Transport and Transport for London.

Residents’ views will be considered alongside traffic monitoring before a decision is made on whether or not to make schemes permanent.

Anyone driving through the Ashenden Road traffic filter – which is fully signposted with Department for Transport approved signs – will face a fine of £130 from Monday, reduced to £65 if paid within two weeks. 

To find out more about the Council’s plans to rebuild a greener Hackney, visit: https://rebuildingagreenerhackney.commonplace.is/

Cyberattack update – some Council Tax direct debit payments delayed

Council services continue to be significantly disrupted due to a serious cyberattack, and you may experience difficulty contacting us or using our services.

Key essential services, including our coronavirus response, continue to operate, but some of our services may be unavailable or disrupted for some time.

Our phone lines remain open for essential help, advice and emergency support. However, we are asking you to avoid contacting us unless absolutely necessary, and to be patient if your call takes longer than normal or we have difficulty providing you with the information you need straight away.

Paying by direct debit

Disruption to our payment systems means that some Council Tax payments by direct debit may be delayed and a very small number cannot currently be processed.

Direct debit installments that were due on 21 October 2020 and 28 October 2020 have been delayed. The 21 October installments are now expected to leave accounts on Friday 28 October, and the 28 October installments are now expected to leave accounts on Monday 2 November.

The installment amounts will be in line with the most recent direct debit payment on each account. In a small number of cases where this varies slightly from the agreed amount for the next payment, this will be reflected in your Council Tax account so that any slight underpayment is added to future payments, and any slight overpayment deducted from future payments.

If your direct debit installment has been delayed you do not need to do anything – your payment will be processed as soon as possible. To avoid paying twice, please do not try to pay this installment in another way.

Other ways to pay

If you do not pay by direct debit, you can continue to make one-off Council Tax payments:

We are currently not able to take payments:

  • By card or cash at the Hackney Service Centre
  • Over the phone with a member of staff using the general Council Tax line (020 8356 3154)

Your Council Tax account

We are not currently able to provide information about or make changes to Council Tax accounts. This includes:

  • Processing changes of address or circumstances
  • Making one-off refunds
  • Providing account updates or copies of bills or statements
  • Amending payment instalments or arrangements
  • Issuing SMS or email reminder messages
  • Setting up new Direct Debit arrangements
  • Issuing notices for unpaid and cancelled Direct Debits

We are working to restore these services. In the meantime, please check hackney.gov.uk/service-status for updates.

Coronavirus cases are high in Hackney

Residents can view localised coronavirus data for the borough online and view the local coronavirus control plan and can view a list of the new ‘high’ tier level restrictions here. 

The full guidance about what you can and can’t do under the London wide Tier 2 (high alert) restrictions is available on the Government’s coronavirus website.

If you have coronavirus symptoms, even mild ones, please isolate yourself immediately from other people for 10 days and get a test. If you are asked to self isolate, regardless of symptoms, you must do so to keep from possibly passing it onto others. You can book a test online by downloading the NHS COVID-19 app, or calling 119. 

Coronavirus symptoms are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Supporting rough sleepers

Some members of the local community have raised concerns about the welfare of an individual currently sleeping rough on Stoke Newington High Street, and we are doing everything we can to help them off the street and into a safe, secure place to live.

Every example of street homelessness is worrying, and in the overwhelming majority of cases we are able to support people into accommodation. As is often the case with people who find themselves on the streets, this is a sensitive and complicated situation. This person had until recently been living in a home provided by the Council, and the option to return to this home remains available.

A range of specialist services, including the Council’s street routreach team working alongside Thames Reach’s London Street Rescue service, are checking on this person’s welfare on a regular basis, working to gain her trust and – while we cannot force anyone to engage with offers of help – encouraging her to accept support. This support includes a professional mental health practitioner skilled in dealing with rough sleepers.

Nobody should be forced to sleep rough in Hackney. If you see someone bedding down outside, let our outreach workers know using the Street link app and our team will be out to find them and offer accommodation.

Rough sleeping – how you can help

The four steps give residents simple steps to make a positive difference and help people they see sleeping rough.

Talk: A smile or ‘hello’ can make a big difference, to help someone feel less invisible and part of the community

Tap: Help financially by donating £3 to Tap London’s contactless donation points – money goes to the Mayor of London’s rough sleeping fund, which supports local charities. There are donation points at Hackney Town Hall reception and by E8 Cafe in the HSC.

Time: Find out about local volunteering opportunities at hackney.gov.uk/rough-sleeping

Tell: If you see someone bedding down outside, let our outreach workers know via the Streetlink app (streetlink.org.uk) or direct them to the Greenhouse in Tudor Road, E9, the Council’s one stop shop for advice and services for people facing homelessness.

Digital Divide

As the coronavirus pandemic highlighted the importance of digital literacy, Hackney Council has launched a campaign to help residents improve their digital skills. 

The campaign includes a toolkit of easy to follow step-by-step videos and a new intergenerational digital training programme matching younger people with residents who have very limited digital skills.

Videos include how to set up a new device and how to use Zoom and WhatsApp , as well as important information regarding scams and online dangers. 

The council has been working with local care homes to train care workers to teach elderly people how best to use online functions. It has also launched the Digital Buddies Programme, which is led by volunteers aged 16-18, who provide one to one training to help older people get online and navigate the internet. 

Venislava Lozanova, a carer for people with personal care medication at Ashley Court Housing with care scheme, has been helping residents who are unable to use the internet independently. She said that working through the videos with residents has definitely raised their confidence. “Margerette enjoys going online and can even do some basic things herself now”. 

However, it isn’t just elderly people who struggle with using the internet, there are many residents who face literacy and language barriers when trying to access basic functions. Therefore the resources available have been created for a universal audience to help all residents to improve their digital skills. 

For further information and to access the online tools or request a digital buddy please visit: https://hackney.gov.uk/digital-skills

Keep covid-19 safe this halloween

We know that many families across Hackney enjoy the tradition of going out trick or treating on Halloween, but it’s important your safety comes first this year.

If you decide to go trick or treating, please make sure you only visit households that you know are participating, so you don’t add further risk to yourselves anybody who is shielding or self-isolating.

Remember, that you should only be mixing outdoors in groups of six and you should still be keeping two metres from anyone you do not live with.

Make sure to wear a face covering on public transport and in public indoor settings and practice good hand hygine at all times by regularly using hand sanitizer or washing your hands for 20 seconds.

If you do not want trick or treaters knocking this year, why not download and print the window poster so families know not to visit?

Making Hackney a child-friendly borough – have your say

Developers and architects who plan and design buildings, streets and public spaces in Hackney will have to put the interests, needs and activities of children and young people at the core of their plans, under innovative new design guidelines being consulted on by Hackney Council.

Following approval at the Council’s Cabinet last Monday (19 October), a consultation has been launched today on the draft Child-Friendly Places Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). The new rules will ensure all those who play a key role in planning and designing spaces in Hackney actively consider and plan for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds by establishing child-friendly principles and design guidelines for any proposed developments. The ambition is to ensure that any proposed development in Hackney accommodates and supports children and young people in moving through the borough, providing them with opportunities to get physically active, connect with nature, and play in safe, healthy and unpolluted public spaces.

The draft planning document will help shape a better environment for existing and future residents, drawing on lessons from pioneering initiatives such as Hackney’s School Streets, which will see 40 streets around schools close to motor traffic at certain times to help families walk and cycle to school.

The consultation process will run until 12 January 2021 and will gather views on the child-friendly principles, design guidelines and engagement tools through an interactive website as well as workshops with various groups, including schools, youth centres, disability groups and built environment professionals.

To view the draft Child-Friendly SPD and to share your views, please visit the dedicated Commonplace consultation website here

Coronavirus testing at Sandford Court

As part of efforts to support the increase in coronavirus testing capacity in Hackney, Hackney Council has given permission for the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) to open a walk through coronavirus Local Testing Station at Sandford Court.

There has been a significant rise in coronavirus cases in Hackney in recent weeks, with a particular increase in Stamford Hill which has among the highest infection rates in London. Ensuring that those with coronavirus symptoms can get a test is vital to restricting the spread of the virus and helping to keep Hackney safe. The Council has therefore been working with the Department for Health and Social Care to identify suitable sites for testing facilities for Hackney residents.

Sandford Court has been chosen because the estate has space to accommodate a testing site without causing health risks or significant disruption to residents. It will provide vital additional testing facilities close to where people live locally – particularly for those who don’t have a car.

 

    About the Local Testing Station

    Local Testing Stations are being set up around the UK by the government’s Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) to provide access to coronavirus testing by the NHS Test & Track service. The Council does not set them up or operate them, but has supported the government to identify suitable locations, ensure they operate safely and with minimal disruption to residents, and promote their availability locally.

    Providing enough testing capacity is vital to tackling the coronavirus pandemic. Testing sites are needed to ensure local people can get tested as quickly as possible when they experience coronavirus symptoms. As well as helping to save lives, this can help us ensure those who are infected don’t spread the virus and put other people in the community at risk, and allow us to better understand local infection rates so that the right preventative measures can be put in place.

    Why Sandford Court?

    Stamford Hill is a coronavirus hotspot, and has one of the highest coronavirus infection rates in London and in the UK. We have been working with the DHSC to identify a suitable site that is:

    • Local to Stamford Hill so that local people can access it easily, even if they don’t have a car
    • Accessible seven days a week and throughout the day
    • Able to accommodate separate entry and exit points
    • On a hard surface, so that it will not be affected by the weather
    • Not a risk to local residents or members of the public.

    As part of this process we have considered many potential options for the site. Sandford Court is the only option currently available which meets these criteria. 

    The Local Testing Station will be in place for a minimum of 13 weeks, and potentially longer should the need for local testing continue.

    During that time, we will continue to search for an alternative location. If one becomes available, for example if a commercial site is no longer in use, we will look to move the Local Testing Station after the initial 13 week period.

    What safety measures will be in place at Sandford Court?

    All government testing sites are fully risk-assessed and must comply with strict risk measures to ensure they are COVID-secure. This includes having a secure perimeter with entry and exit into the testing station managed by trained security personnel, and all on-site staff adhering to enhanced protective measures and cleaning procedures. Sites cannot open without NHS approval certifying that the testing station does not pose an increased risk to the safety of members of the public.

    The safety of the public at Sandford Court and nearby is paramount. Stringent health and safety measures will be put in place to protect local people from infection and ensure the Local Testing Station does not pose an increased risk to residents or members of the public walking along Bethune Road. 

    The safety measures assume that residents on the estate and nearby are particularly vulnerable to risks of coronavirus so that the Local Testing Station meets the highest safety standards.

    The following measures will be in place to ensure the safety of local residents:

    • The Local Testing Station, including all waiting and testing areas and access routes, will be segregated from the estate and any publicly accessible areas by fencing. Access to and from the site will be clearly signposted from Bethune Road, so there will be no interaction with local residents. This layout has been inspected and approved by a consultant from the City & Hackney public health service to ensure it does not pose an increased risk of infection to the public. 
    • After booking their tests, people will receive the full address and directions to the testing station. The site will be set up to help people maintain social distancing, as well as to avoid queues of people waiting for a test in public spaces.
    • Security officers will be in place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ensure the safety and security of NHS staff and equipment. This should also help deter any other potential crime and anti-social behaviour. 
    • All visitors to the Local Testing Station will be required to follow clear coronavirus-safe practices, such as social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing station).
    • All on-site operational staff will wear PPE and follow coronavirus-safe practices such as social distancing, washing their hands. The site will be divided into zones with very strict dress codes to ensure staff safety. The staff who are not meeting the people being tested do not wear PPE, for example when taking breaks or eating lunch. 
    • A strict cleaning regime for the whole testing station which means that facilities are cleaned multiple times a day to ensure very high standards of hygiene. Waste from the testing station will be removed safely, on a regular basis, and will not be placed in the bins used by residents. All used water from sinks, toilets and wash hand basins will be stored in tanks and removed by tanker.

    How to get a test

    Residents can book a test online, by calling 119, or using the NHS Covid-19 app. Typically, bookings for a testing station are made available from 6pm the evening before the appointment, but please remember you must have symptoms to book.

    A Mobile Testing Station will be in operation at Sandford Court from 10:30am-3.30pm on Thursday 29 October, and will then run every other day until the Local Testing Station opens in mid-November.

    Find out more

    Frequently asked questions for Sandford Court residents

    Letter to Sandford Court residents 27 October 2020

    Letter to Sandford Court residents 6 October 2020

    Residents with any further questions or concerns about the Mobile Testing Unit or the Local Testing Station at Sandford Court can email info@hackney.gov.uk or call 020 8356 3330 and select the option to discuss Sandford Court.