THIS PICTURE SHOWS the door that has cost council taxpayers almost half a million pounds in lost revenue.
It should for the last five years have been seeing a busy coming and going of office workers or café clients. Instead, it did not until recently even exist: only when Loving Dalston started asking questions about the to-let premises facing Dalston Lane that lacked a street entrance did a door start to appear.
Yes, start to appear: it was due to be finished by early this month November 2017. Instead it is in danger of taking even longer than the poolside work at London Fields Lido.
The rent the council seeks for the huge and desirable space below the CLR James Library is £90,000 a year. But to get into the premises, a user would have had to enter from Dalston Square, then walk through several doors around the library, a circuitous trip of about 40m.
CF Commercial, the hapless Shoreditch agency tasked with letting a space without a front door, was getting nowhere… until the council this year 2017 gave itself planning permission to install the vital door.
Hackney council did not reveal to Loving Dalston who was responsible for omitting the street door when the £5 million building went up, nor whether any recompense would be sought.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which describes itself as independent but has been termed right-leaning, said: “Taxpayers in Hackney will be furious that their local council’s apparent incompetence has cost them hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“Ensuring that people can access a building seems to be quite a basic consideration for any infrastructure project, and it’s simply unacceptable that this has taken so long to resolve.”
Offered the chance to puts its view, Hackney eventually told Loving Dalston that the space had “always been marketed with the clear understanding that no door would be installed until a tenant was in place”.
An intending tenant was found and due to sign on 17 November 2017 – which, said the council, “is why we installed the door on this date and [why] we were given planning permission once a tenancy had been agreed.
“Unfortunately on the date that we installed the door for the tenant, it had to pull out of signing the lease at the last minute – due to unforeseen circumstances.
“We had already installed the door before the tenant pulled out.
“If there had been no tenant, we would not have installed the door on 17 November, as per the original marketing agreement.”
David Altheer 211117
* Backstory: A Hackney kind of opening date; Glass crash at troubled Dalston library; Hackney drops black hero; How Loving Dalston alerted Hackney to threat to CLR James name; CFC team is ‘hippest in London’
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