Spe­cial needs project saved

The Jewish Chronicle - - Community - BY JES­SICA ELGOT

A STAM­FORD Hill hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tion is to give away land worth more than £1.5 mil­lion to spe­cial needs school Side by Side for new premises, with the pro­viso that plan­ning per­mis­sion is ob­tained for flats on top of the prop­erty.

The school has wanted to re­lo­cate for some years and has been look­ing for­ward to mov­ing to the Agu­das Israel Hous­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s £10 mil­lion Avig­dor Mews hous­ing de­vel­op­ment, built on the site of the for­mer Avig­dor school. But AIHA chief ex­ec­u­tive Ita Sy­mons says the school can no longer af­ford to pur­chase its share of the site.

In con­se­quence, she had of­fered the school the land, on the un­der­stand­ing that Side by Side meets the con­struc- tion costs, and that Hack­ney Coun­cil gives con­sent for the build­ing to in­cor­po­rate hous­ing for up to 16 Jewish fam­i­lies. The cost of the new build­ing is es­ti­mated at £4 mil­lion.

Ms Sy­mons said that Hack­ney Coun­cil had been sup­port­ive of the plan to build the school and more flats on the site. But she added: “I hope there is the stom­ach to see it through.”

There are cur­rently more than 20 flats in Avig­dor Mews, which have been oc­cu­pied since 2009.

The de­vel­op­ment caused dis­quiet among lo­cal res­i­dents who claimed it would block out their nat­u­ral light.

There have since been prob­lems be­tween Avig­dor Mews res­i­dents and those of next-door block, Ar­bor Court, with com­plaints about dis­tur­bances.

In a let­ter to the coun­cil seen by the JC, Ar­bor Court res­i­dents com­plain of con­stant car hoot­ing, chil­dren shout­ing, and gen­eral singing and chant­ing late at night. The singing is de­scribed as “like a cats’ cho­rus”.

Rachel Fair­bairn of Hack­ney’s com­mu­nity safety team met this week with David More­land from Agu­das Israel and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the blocks.

“Car horns are the big­gest an­noy­ance,” said one Ar­bor Court res­i­dent. “The whole tone of the area has changed since the flats were built.”

A strictly Or­tho­dox Avig­dor Mews res­i­dent said peo­ple liv­ing there had been made to feel un­wel­come. “It’s hor­ri­ble to think your neigh­bours hate you. They com­plain about the sound of chil­dren, but ev­ery­one in this block has at least five chil­dren. Chil­dren will play and sing — it’s a nice sound to hear.”

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