Locked Out of Acton's Lock

Residents of the Whiston and Goldsmiths’ estates – and especially those in Debdale Court – are less than impressed with Hackney Council and British Waterways over the proposed development at Acton’s Lock. Squeezed between Debdale Court and the Regents Canal at the Eastern End of Whiston Road, the five-story building will comprise 25 flats and a restaurant.

It was given planning permission by Hackney Council in August, however Residents of Debdale Court, whose block will be dwarfed by the new building and whose views of the canal will disappear, have told Hackney Independent that the first they were aware of the proposed development was the receipt of a leaflet late in 2005, after planning permission was awarded. This makes a mockery of British Waterways commitment to consultation. Their website gushes: “Our canals and rivers pass through local communities across the length and breadth of the country. Waterway development is often closely linked to community aspirations and social issues at the local level. It is essential that the views of local communities are fully represented and effectively listened to. We are committed to getting the processes of dialogue and accountability absolutely right.” Right.

Typically, such rhetoric about ‘consultation’ hides the reality on the ground. ‘A similar development was proposed here about five years ago,’ says a Debdale resident, ‘but a petition and local pressure stopped it. There’s been no consultation with residents this time round. There’s no-one at Hackney Council who’ll tell you what’s going on.’ Hackney Council has decided to invite resident input into policy about the sale of its commercial properties, having been forced to by recent high-profile campaigns in Broadway Market and Dalston Lane. Hackney Independent would like to see this extended to all new developments in residential areas. Acton’s Lock is yet another example of ‘regeneration’ impacting negatively on the local communities it is supposed to benefit.