Harassed hounded and marginalised in Hackney: St Marys of Zion church claims

The exterior as it currently is Photo: Laura Mackenzie

The new owners of 229 Lower Clapton Road, are not receiving the same ecstatic and warm welcome the pub next door which opened on Thursday has.  Much of Clapton and afar have been quite giddy about the prospect of  the Clapton Hart opening.  By Thursday morning it reached fever pitch and judging by the twitter feeds, folks could just about contain themselves. By the cocktail hour, people were spilled out onto the pavement, drinking late into the evening.

In stark contrast, from the moment word got out about who had purchased the former night club, the parish council of  St Marys Zion Church claim they have been relentlessly hounded by Julia Lafferty, founder of the Friends of Clapton Cinematograph Theatre (FCCT) and Clapton Arts Trust (CAT), in an effort to gain access to the building interior.

The intention was to allow FCCT access, but the property was later discovered to contain asbestos, so on health and safety grounds could not give access to the public.  Soon after, talks broke down and the church admin withdrew from talks and made it clear.

But the church is not a “sexy” or viable project that attracts the younger, white upwardly mobile professionals FCCT’s goals attract.  For them, a trendy picture house to screen indy or obscure films would be more their style, and that is what many were advocating before it was bought.

The architecture of external facia is based on St Mary of Zion Church in Axum, Ethiopia

A spokes person for the St Mary’s Zion Church told me: “We acquired the site on May 17, 2011 after 38 years of no permanent building. Our purchase was without any applications for grants or funding, but through parishioners, public donations and hard saving.

“We bought the building on the understanding that it was not listed nor a building of town scape merit. This was confirmed via the Borough of Hackneys Conservation area map for Clapton Pond, which confirmed the former nightclub as being a building within this zone, but not identified with any heritage significance.

He added:  “Members of the administration attended a public meeting in June 2011, where we were informed of local interest in our building. We conveyed through various local Councillors, our intentions to convert the former night club into a church, youth and community centre”.

Once the pride and joy of the Black community, the site over time, had a turbulent history which included a shooting death outside the club and other violent crimes, which led Hackney Council to revoke it’s license in 2007.  It lay empty until it was bought in May 2011 and has been a nightmare for the new owners, who have been hampered every step of the way,  by the demands of the FCCT aided by Hackney Council Councillors.

The FCCT is just one of a number of special interest groups that have been set up over the years, by local residents who share the same interests.  But more worrying,  is how these groups all cross pollinate, and in some cases are chaired by local Councillors who appear to have an unfair influence on decisions and representation, of the groups pet projects.

For the Parish council of St Marys of Zion, their parishioners and the community at large, this type of undue influence of  local councilors has been a hindrance in the progression of the renovation of the building, depriving many of us in Hackney from usage of this much needed positive force in our community. The spokesperson said: “We finally purchase our own property and have since had to contend with unfair treatment over a building we are paying a mortgage on”. The church has been using St James on Lower Clapton Road, for worship.  He added: “The current objections to our application is said to be based on heritage grounds, but it has been proven and established that this property is not listed and has been rejected by both English Heritage and the Department of Culture Media and Sports(DCMS).”The site on 229 Lower Clapton Road was formally a brewery and an assembly/function room for the adjacent pub.  It wasn’t  reconstructed as a cinema until 1910 and then converted into a nightclub,  which was the buildings prominent use over the past 3 decades”.

The launch of Clapton Arts Trust. Cllr Ian Rathbone has his fist raised (in strippy sweater) David White is the bearded suited and booted gentleman, Cllr Linda Kelly carrying a child on her lap and Julia Lafferty with scarf and mouth agape. Photo: claptonartstrust.org

Fear and Loathing

It appears the delays in giving planning permission, stems from a calculated move by the FCCT and other groups involved with the aid of local councillors. Asked why the church was still waiting for planning permission following it’s submission in February, I received the following response from Hackney Council:

“The site contains a former cinema which was under review for listing as a listed building by the English Heritage.  The application for the change of use of the building to a place of worship including internal and external alterations, was submitted at the same time as English Heritage listing review was taking place.  Officers were mindful of the implications of the application should English Heritage decided to enlist the building as a statutory listed building and decided to wait for the decision.   The English Heritage decision not to list the building was recently made and officers and the applicant have been negotiating on an acceptable scheme.  Given the level of objections received, the application will be considered and determined by the Planning Sub-Committee in June 2012”.

The church council also say FCCT and CAT have not been truthful with the community in their effort to gain support and signatures.  They have even attempted to re-write history.  229 Lower Clapton  Road was a purpose built brewery and NOT a cinema. It has since had various incarnations.

One disturbing  element of the FCCT crusade,  is to play on the fears and prejudices of their supporters which is evident in a recent email sent by David White,  who along with Julia Lafferty is a trustee and founding member of CAT and other local groups. The email was sent to supporters  and members of various Neighbourhood groups:

 Hi Everyone,

As promised, a rare appeal for help on a local matter.
An Ethiopian church group, based in Jamaica (I believe), have put in a planning application (no. 2011/3486) to turn the rare, early
“Clapton Cinematograph Theatre”, at 229 Lower Clapton Road – in the Clapton Pond Conservation Area – into a replica of their “home”church in Jamaica.

Ominously there is no mention of the fate of the building’s many historic features in the planning application…..which would sub-divide the building’s auditorium and create a battery of rooflights along the top of the building.

The facade of the building would be rendered unrecognisable with a coloured polycarbonate arch and dome, tinted glazed units and aluminium windows.

To destroy local social history and an important and rare early survivor is incredibly insulting to the local community and shows such a breathtaking lack of sensitivity, let alone knowledge of how to treat heritage buildings, it is hard to believe, especially as they originally stated they were well aware it was in a conservation zone and wanted to “restore” it to its former glory.

That was in a dialogue initiated by them at the NE Neighbourhood committee meeting last year though.
Since then they have rather changed their tune.

The Hackney Society have nominated the building for inclusion in the Council’s list of local heritage buildings as one of the country’s earliest purpose-built cinemas and a listing review is being carried out by the Department of Culture Media and Sport.

In his defense, David White claims  “I sent a very badly worded campaign, which I sent out very late at night without asking for approval. I’m afraid I wasn’t thinking clearly when I sent it either”.

Since David Whites email was brought to his attention, Cllr Ian Rathbone has resigned as chair of  Clapton Arts Trust, where Cllr Linda Kelly remains as vice-chair. Their website mysteriously vanished earlier this week after I made comments, but I found it parked elsewhere.

Circa late 1880's: 229 Lower Clapton Road before its first reconstruction to become a cinema. Contrary to what FCCT have maintained, the site is not a purpose built cinema.

Following the email fiasco, the parish council sent an email to Cllr Rathbone and CC’d it to other concerned parties, informing them they no longer wanted a dialogue with FCCT and CAT. It read in part: “The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, St. Marys of Zion, is the first of its kind to be established in Hackney, which should be representative of the diverse tolerance for which the Borough of Hackney is widely known.

“Many of our parishioners have lived and grown up in the area and are familiar with the crime and underachievement, which influences much of our youth.  What is not highlighted enough are the achievements  and large number of  educated and professional black and ethnic minority role models emerging from the borough local and wider community. we are working on our community programme upon the understanding that our property although with in a conservation zone, falls within a Trident area.

“Our particular branch make up is a mixture of African Caribbean, Ethiopian and other nationals. The expression local community is not representative unless it is confined within this context.

“In particular but not exclusively, we aim to tackle the issues affecting our young disaffected black and ethnic minority youth within the area. To this end, we hope the church community centre some means of sanctuary for those who are underachieving and or influenced by postcode and gang related crime by providing positive role models to tackle these issues. We intend to work with other organizations to achieve a common goal.

“We have not rolled out our community programme but through communications with FCCT and Clapton Arts Trust,  heritage and conservation walks, take precedence over the issues impacting on people and lifestyle this administration seeks to focus on.  No discussion has been had on this point”.

Julia Lafferty’s arrogance and total disregard is breath taking, still failing to recognise St Mary’s as the rightful legitimate owners of 229 Lower Clapton Road. The FCCT petition website has been gathering petitions since the club was closed in 2007, yet Lafferty has being passing them off and presented them to Hackney Council as signatures against the more recent planning issue as well as calling for the old cinema to be restored.

St Marys of Zion website

About Remi

Remi Hackney Hive founder, publisher and contributor. Hackneyite and all round Girl Friday who couldn't wait to leave Hackney and London behind her. After hitching her wagon in California, Texas, New Orleans, Louisiana for 18 years, with a brief spell in Mexico, the prodigal daughter returned to London, happy to put an unconventional and risqué past behind her. It sometimes feels like she’s still at war with herself. This often leads her into a whole lot of trouble, although it’s fair to blame it on some of her best qualities: intelligence, original thinking, willingness to take risks, skepticism, rebelliousness, independence, and creativity. But you know what, much of the trouble she gets into is because she can’t help pointing out that the emperor is naked. Remi still lives by her own rules, nobody else’s. She is owned by her two dogs Deffer(a Jack Russell ) Darcy (a Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix now deceased but can’t remove their names) and two Short Hair British Domestic Black cats she adopted December 2021, Desmond and Tutu and Dixie, a Tabby she rescued last summer who had been a stray kitten. She is proprietor of London’s finest and long established pet sitting service. The big smoke is home for the moment, but she desperately yearns wide open spaces, where she hopes to call home in the near future.


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27 Responses to "Harassed hounded and marginalised in Hackney: St Marys of Zion church claims"

  1. Thank you Hackney Hive for highlighting the nuisance nimbys cause in Hackney and welcome to St Marys Zion. I am looking forward to your contribution to this great borough.

    Comment by Karla on 13/05/2012 at 11:14 pm

  2. Dear Remi Makinde

    I am assuming that you have written the above article as your name is appears above it. Hackney Hive advertises itself as “catering to all sections of Hackney and not just a niche”. However, it would appear that this is not the case, and I would query why you bothered to contact me at the beginning of April to ask for an interview, when it is patently clear from what you have written, that you had not the slightest intention of reporting anything I said.

    As you will recall, I provided you by email with a very full explanation of the Friends of Clapton Cinematograph Theatre’s case. (I would be happy to provide a copy of that email to any of your readers.) You then emailed me on 2 April asking me to respond to a number of questions, which again I answered in full (see below).

    Hackney Hive is of course under no obligation to report local news in a fair and objective manner, but your readers should be made aware if you have a particular agenda.


    1. Do you still intend to pursue the matter as I gather the administrators for St Mary’s no longer wish to hold any discussions or consider any request for access to the building.

    As St Mary of Zion group have not allowed members of the wider
    community or even their elected representatives to access 229 Lower
    Clapton Road since their acquisition of the building in May 2011,
    their latest statement merely confirms the status quo. Likewise the
    group ceased to respond to communications from the Friends of Clapton Cinematograph Theatre in September 2011.

    2. Since the building has a new owner, why have you insisted on having a stake to something that has nothing to do with you?
    3. Do you realise that not everyone shares your passion for the architecture and as such should be afforded the understanding.

    Questions 2 and 3 are based upon the false premise that I am seeking
    to impose my own personal preferences to the exclusion of the wider
    community. What the questions fail to take into consideration is that
    229 Lower Clapton Road has been designated by Hackney Council as a Building of Townscape Merit in the Clapton Pond Conservation Area. The local authority designates Conservation Areas where they consider that an area is of special architectural or historic interest, the
    character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve and
    enhance. Conservation Areas also benefit from special protection under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

    By their insistence that acquisition of 229 Lower Clapton Road
    entitles them to do exactly what they wish with the building, the St
    Mary of Zion group are failing to recognise that they are subject to
    local and national planning policies and to specific planning controls
    relating to Conservation Areas regulated by the local authority and by
    national government. If these controls must be observed by other
    owners in the Conservation Area, the question arises of why St Mary of
    Zion group should be an exception?

    Whilst St Mary of Zion group may not agree with the Mayor of
    Hackney’s view that “Hackney’s historic identity is a social, economic
    and cultural asset” (Jules Pipe’s introduction to “The State of
    Hackney’s Historic Environment”) they should be willing to recognise
    that a wide cross section of the community do.

    4. I notice the signatures on your petition go back to 2006 on a different matter from what you are campaigning on currently.

    The ipetition set up by the Friends of Clapton Cinematograph
    Theatre during the course of 2007 was established to enable local
    people to sign up to the aims and objectives of the FCCT, namely the
    preservation and restoration of 229 Lower Clapton Road for the benefit
    of all people borough-wide. The expectation was that they would be
    familiar with the area and appreciate the significance of the building
    they are asking to be protected. The opinion of the signatories to the
    petition is therefore of relevance to the issue of planning proposals
    for the building.

    Comment by Julia Lafferty on 13/05/2012 at 11:37 pm

  3. Conservation areas protect from demolition. From what I can see no demolition is proposed. If you believe the facade changes will detract from the conservation area then so be it. Make your argument. But it is not statutorily listed or even locally listed so much of your argument is bunk and irrelevant. From what I can see the facade is quite bland and unwelcoming at the moment.

    Are you challenging the facade (because as a non-listed building in a cons area that’s all that really matters) or the change of use from a dangerous nightclub to a peaceful community based church? And what are the features of the facade that merit retention? What are the features of the proposed facade that are so incongruous to the character of the area? Seems like much ado about nothing. As soon as English Heritage decided not to list it your case was DONE.

    The fact that councillors appear to be abusing their positions by delaying the committee decision (maybe in hope of a trumped up ’emerging policy’ under the Local Development Framework?) is worrying at best and undemocratic at worst.

    Comment by Desy on 14/05/2012 at 11:18 am

  4. Ps: here’s an idea… if you wanted to preserve a former brewery turned cinema as a cinema (why not brewery I have no idea) that English Heritage have stated does not merit listed building protection and has little heritage status, then why didn’t you buy it yourselves?

    Comment by Desy on 14/05/2012 at 11:26 am

  5. Julia, The piece I wrote turned out to be quite lengthy so decided not to add your response, as it had all been well documented on your various sites and in other interviews you have given. Your response to my email was just regurgitated statements.

    I may as well declare at this point, that as a Hackney resident, I am unashamedly and apologetically in support of what St Mary of Zion church and Community Centre are trying to achieve on a pastoral, social and structural level.

    As for your thoughts on the direction of this site and who it represents, the aim is to cover things of interest in the community and others have been invited to contribute.

    I see no reason to hide my true feelings just to be PC. Somethings just have to be said and I take this whole palava PERSONALLY.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 14/05/2012 at 1:49 pm

  6. Is there anything that wont go unopposed by one or more of these groups? I notice that CPNAG is again opposing the old public toilets area on Millfields road that a developer wants to turn into (what I think are) very good looking apartments and retail space. There was the massive and ultimately futile campaign over the tram sheds, there was opposition to the Clapton Hart and now this. Im all for local residents wanting to protect their community but I think our unelected community guardians have to take a long hard look at their action and see that, far from having the wider community on their side, they are starting to alienate normal people. Not everyone wants to live in a commune where private commerce is replaced with national lottery funded arts projects. A good mix of public and private initiatives is essential for a functioning economy. Focus on one or two good things and you will keep the wider community on side – try to shape everything into what you believe it should be and you will lose any goodwill you had in the first place.

    Comment by Gav on 14/05/2012 at 5:07 pm

  7. Gav, It’s NIMBYISM gone wild in Hackney and it needs some control.

    Wait til you hear what the people against the hotel in Homerton are up to….. it’s vile to say the least.

    Feel free to sign up on our forum.


    Comment by Remi Makinde on 15/05/2012 at 7:35 pm

  8. Please direct me to information regarding the hotel in Homerton, Remi.

    It appears to me that the ‘community groups’ in our area have taken upon themselves to shape Hackney into some sort of middle class socialist ghetto. The agression shown to any developments (sometimes physical) that dont fit into their world view of being a lottery funded community centre or ‘free’ shop selling bohemian tidbits just cant be allowed to stand, especially at a time when much needed investment and development is finally coming into the borough.

    I think there may need to be an organised watch of these watchers.

    Comment by gav on 16/05/2012 at 9:49 am

  9. I will have it written soon and have spoken to a few locals, owner and staff of the building as well as one guest.

    It’s quite vile and upsetting to say the least.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 16/05/2012 at 10:00 am

  10. Why would you conflate these two issues?

    The homerton issue was very clearly a dodgy hotel developer steam rolling the locals (not the first time for said developer either). It has nothing to do with this.

    Comment by Don O on 18/05/2012 at 1:31 pm

  11. You know this for a fact? I have started a discussion on the forum regarding Homerton and will be opining about it on the main site soon.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 21/05/2012 at 8:14 am

  12. As I said previously, Hackney Hive is of course under no obligation to report local news in a fair and objective manner, and your response has made it clear that you have no intention of doing so.

    Comment by Julia Lafferty on 14/05/2012 at 4:48 pm

  13. Lafferty, you are getting tedious. Take a look at the rest of the site. I try to be fair and balanced, but I AM Hackney Hive and I WILL call out bull shite and unfairness when I see it.

    I’m always looking for local people to contribute.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 14/05/2012 at 6:36 pm

  14. Tedious I may be, but the main point that I raised remains unanswered – namely when other owners of properties in the Clapton Pond Conservation Area are subject to specific planning controls relating to Conservation Areas, why do St Mary of Zion group consider that they should be an exception? After all, both the Clapton Hart and the old cinema would not have been in existence had not a former member of the Friends of Clapton Cinematograph Theatre campaigned some years ago to preserve them when there was a Council plan to demolish both buildings and put yet another tower block in their place. As for me, I pride myself on having been tedious for more than thirty years of living in Clapton, including being part of the campaign group which saved Sutton House in Homerton from being given to a property developer to develop into six luxury flats when it had been gifted to the National Trust for the benefit of the nation.

    Comment by Julia Lafferty on 14/05/2012 at 11:29 pm

  15. Hasn’t the church requested planning permission? From the reports that ive read from various places including on the hackney council website, the church have gone through the council, and if thats the case, Julia how can you say:

    ” the Clapton Pond Conservation Area are subject to specific planning controls relating to Conservation Areas, why do St Mary of Zion group consider that they should be an exception? ”

    that doesnt make any sense. if they “considered themselves as an exception” im sure they would not have gone through the council.

    Comment by nathan on 15/05/2012 at 2:06 am

  16. @ Julia nobody including St Mary of Zion is saying they are above being subject to planning controls. They recognise that fact, so stop giving the impression that they re not being compliant.

    They are, which is why they submitted their plans and like all reasonable, civic minded people, they realise they may need to make changes and compromise, so STOP portraying them as ignorant outlaws hell bent on desecrating some sacred building.

    I don’t want to turn this into some pissing contest, but I too have lived in Hackney for a long time, albeit the years I lived abroad. I actually moved here before you did and have strong roots in this community.

    If you want to impress someone with your NIMBY credentials, you are barking up the wrong tree girlie because I’m not impressed.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 15/05/2012 at 5:54 am

  17. And what are these conservation area controls Julia? As a planning officer I know they relate to demolition and trees. Planning permission has been sought for changes to the facade but that would be so on any building that isn’t a dwelling house. So exactly are these ‘controls’ that would prevent these proposed works? Local policy? National listing? Local listing? Or just a group preference and misinformation?

    Comment by Desy on 16/05/2012 at 9:02 am

  18. Before the elections i was informed that cllr Ian Rathbone resigned from being the Chairman of the Clapton Arts trust and it is also mentioned in your report…. then why now after the elections is cllr Ian Rathbone back as the chairperson….

    I liked ‘Desy’ comments and i hope another large newpaper picks up this story and the comments as i feel there is some serious under the table business going on.

    what is worrying is that our Councilors are chairing these groups.

    Remi, forward this to Mr Miliband so he is aware what his Councilors are doing, and inform him that the people wont stand for this.

    Comment by nathan on 15/05/2012 at 1:51 am

  19. Nathan I think Clapton Arts Trust haven’t got round to updating their site. I believe Cllr Rathbone has resigned.

    I too hope the main London media pick upon this too.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 15/05/2012 at 6:00 am

  20. I think it is TOTALLY DISGUSTING what this FCCT cinema group, headed by Julia Lafferty are doing. Totally disgusting. I am actually quite appalled by this group to be honest.

    I am NOT IMPRESSED by this form of NIMBY EXTREMISM, and blatant and unfair hounding of St Mary of Zion Church; who happen to be the OWNERS of 229 Lower Clapton Road. St Mary of Zion Church have been done nothing wrong. They have legally purchased this building, which again one must point out was NOT originally a Cinema. The building is NOT a listed building. And St Mary of Zion Church are FULLY and LEGALLY within their right to submit a Planning Application for the building they have purchased!

    They have NOT thought themselves to be above the Law, but rather, I COMMEND THEM, because they, through observation their conduct, proffessionalism, honesty, and INTEGRITY are more reflective of the good aspects of a community than this Nimby Extremist FCCT Group. I apologise if i am sounding annoyed here, but annoyance is actually incorrect. I am disgusted. Disgusted to read the UNDERHAND methods this group used (then sending out of multiple scathing emails which I can only presume were sent out intentionally. Followed by the meagre excuse that the person responsible (a David White) had been ‘tired.’ Too tired to do his research and get his facts right, but not tired enough to refrain from sending out the email; which to me was a blatant act of slander and defamation of character. these methods seem to be common place within this cinema group.

    It is no surprise the Church is feeling ‘hounded.

    For the record, i too am a resident in hackney. I was born in hackney and have lived in hackney for 33 years. I am aware of the positive attributes of our borough. Hackney is a tolerant and diverse in regards to multiculturalism. i personally Love the borough. I am also aware, of the high crime rates within it also. i PERSONALLY feel that this Church is the BREATH OF FRESH AIR hackney, and many of its youth, have needed for a very long time. not to mention the fact that a Chrch with such Ancient Origin will only serve to ENRICH the borough. it is like a beacon of light, and i for one welcome this church WHOLEHEARTEDLY.

    Looking at the design plans the Church has put forward, i actually see they are reasonable designs, NOTHING LIKE WHAT THIS CINEMA GROUP HAVE INSINUATED. the designs for the building do actually uplift it, and you can see that quite clearly.

    I commend St Mary of Zion Church. For their proffessionalism and integrity. And also the borough of Hackney (especially this area of Clapton) has needed such for a very long time.

    @Remi Makinde: Thank you.
    @Nathan: You make a good point.
    @Julia Lafferty: ……. …….seriously. its disgusting.

    Comment by Tsehai on 15/05/2012 at 11:13 pm

  21. A glance at all this shows a need to take a step back. It appears the building was bought legally. I can appreciate (and indeed share a strong interest in old cinema buildings) the desire to ensure the heritage aspect (such as is it remains) but see little in the existing facade that is particularly great. I doubt that anything remains of the original cinema interior – a visit would solve this quickly (asbstos – sign a waiver). Whilst a desire to see it open as a cinema is admirable it is also misplaced, the FCCT simply do NOT own the building and I suspect have not done the maths on the scale of opening a “community cinema” – any changes and operational costs for this venture would be huge. As for the history of the building I would say it is unlikely that this is the original building if it is, there have been so many changes as to make the historical aspect one of interest but as EH have found not worthy of listing. Cinemas like this are multitudinous, a shame but also a reality.

    Perhaps some time in the Hackney Archive would resolve the issue of heritage once and for all but as others have noted it is not to be demolished and planning conditions could be made to ensure the fabric is not damaged or changed.

    What is more worrying is the conflict of interest on the part of councillors who sit on the planning committee, and they should know better. The affiliation makes them unable to vote on this when it comes before them as there is clear conflict of interest.

    Is the proposed church facade in keeping with a CA? Possibly not. Do I personally like it? Not really but it is a matter to be decided via planning process and discussion. I would suspect that the church would be willing to accommodate changes and consideration for the sake of harmony but at present this looks unseemly and with the cinema lobby looking at being on the wrong side of the argument.

    Comment by Lorenzo on 18/05/2012 at 11:05 pm

  22. BTW should add that the pic used from the 1880s, of course doesn’t prove anything since cinema hadn’t been invented then and is not from, what I know and can see, the same building on the site today. But in itself is not proof as you suggest that the same building was a brewery.

    Also worth noting many early cinemas were transformed from pre-existing buildings. As I say, get an archivist and historian on it.

    Comment by Lorenzo on 18/05/2012 at 11:12 pm

  23. For what its worth: there is some important stuff being debated here – I just think it’s sad if it gets unnecessarily vitriolic. I think it’s fantastic that a community website has presented a different perspective on the conservation agenda in Hackney.

    So although you don’t need my support, well done Remi. Like so many others I do wonder and have some disquiet about a kind of desire to completely control physical community development apparently held by some fellow residents but as in life its quite messy and mixed up – I supported the Tram Shed campaign and this issue around 229 Lower Clapton Road I’m simply not sure about. Equally, although I don’t know FCCT well nor am aligned with them I have never seen anything to make me think that they are anything other than a well meaning community group pursuing a cause. As are the church of course.

    It doesn’t mean I agree with FCCT but I do wonder if they are on the receiving end of a backlash which has actually been building up because of a lack of transparency elsewhere in Hackney local community dynamics.

    And Julia Lafferty (who I know slightly from circulating FCCT updates in the past) as part of that group is entirely justified in pursuing that cause and standing up for her opinions which is her right – its sad and I think Remi it takes away from the overall brilliance of opening up the debate if you resort to calling people “tedious” and girlie”. Very sad. Again you don’t need my opinion I know.

    All I’m saying is that clearly there is a local community/political dynamic which many people feel uncomfortable with (I being one) and clearly many people don’t agree with FCCT; however the fact that this issue has become a lightning rod doesn’t mean that FCCT (which I stress I am not a member of) is doing anything wrong in pursuing an issue openly and with vigour. In fact that’s very Hackney-like.

    Comment by Al on 19/05/2012 at 8:38 am

  24. Thanks Al. I admit referring to Lafferty as ‘girlie’ is uncalled for but I’d like to add, that it is usually a term of endearment I use while speaking to others, including my mum, although it’s quite clear, I used it while addressing Lafferty in a condescending manner.

    She still remains tedious.No apologies there.

    Comment by Remi Makinde on 21/05/2012 at 8:09 am

  25. Wow, this has got messy!

    I suggest that the church ask for a meeting with the planning officer to discuss any issues the council have with the application. The council should not refuse this and if they do the applicant can take the application to appeal, on the grounds that the council will not determine the application. The application would then be judged by the planning inspectorate who are outside of Hackney Council control.

    Comment by Andrew on 19/05/2012 at 9:47 am

  26. Good points and a sensible way forward. Issues of aesthetics are obviously tricky and relative but certainly the role of councillors in this mess (including someone from the planning committee is daft and raises concerns such as what influence and debate takes place out of public view).

    I keep coming back to the simple fact that those pushing for a cinema do not own the building and I strongly suspect have not got a business plan (would they have the money to buy if the church sold? I doubt it) or clear costing for refurbishment. In short time to change the record and stop bleating about what you want as it is not in your gift, if you want to protect the building and work on aesthetics then start discussing and negotiating and stop harping on about what you want – it will not happen.

    Comment by Lorenzo on 19/05/2012 at 12:44 pm

  27. Wow. That email from David White takes my breath away.

    Comment by kris on 20/05/2012 at 1:10 pm

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