THIS HANDSOME late-Georgian Stoke Newington school was built in 1837 for the poor. Almost two centuries on, it has been converted to homes for the rich.
Once it gave hope to the children of the under-trodden; now it is being offered for sale to the upwardly mobile. And to foreign investors.
Prices for most of the nine so-called houses in the building, for no apparent reason renamed Grange Hall, start at £1,025,000, although there is a small flat at “only” £865,000.
The parochial school, set up by the Anglican church, began to founder around the time of the First World War and survived various adaptations, including as a billiards hall and latterly a warehouse.
Despite its rundown condition, the exterior’s Thomas Cubitt-like good looks shone through, which meant that one day a developer would scent the possibility of big money.
Stephen Jeremy Bellau, who uses 42 South Molton Street, Mayfair W1K 5RR as an address for his Grange Hall 1837 Ltd — as do 14 other companies, all private and limited — smelt the chance for a profit and in 2014 submitted a conversion scheme to Hackney council. Before long, builders were installing ultra-modish Aston Matthews bathrooms and kitchens with Carrera marble worktops.
In a housing crisis that puts London rentals beyond the reach of young and essential workers, this is what is happening in Hackney. No surprise, too, that one of the estate agents chosen to market the flats specialises in international sales.
The Hackney Society commented: “It’s evidently been a methodical and thorough restoration-adaptation, and Stoke Newington needs more homes. But we spare a thought for the business that closed to make way for these unaffordable homes and question whether the developer has done enough to encourage a mixed community.”
David Altheer 221116
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