The old square was a run down semi-derelict space. At the north end of the square, the new Circus Space was beng created in an old building. To the west were students residences, and to the south a hotel which fronted onto old Street.
I proposed reusing the old Vicotrian cobbles on the site although there were heated debates about the cost effectiveness of doing this. Lifting, cleaning and relaying cobbles made them very expensive as a paving material. normally they would be used as hardcore beneath new paving, or ripped out and scrapped. but they have beautiful colours and being stone, a very long life, so i argued it would be cost effective in the long term, if expensive initially.
A similar argument developed when i proposed re-using the original Victorian lighting columns. The Engineering Department who controlled the maintenance budget preferred to use modern fittings which matched those thrughout the Borough for cost reasons, but as i was trying to create a sense of place which the old lighting columns would achieve as sculptural installations. Eventually it was agreed that they could be re-used but in this place only, and I issued the instructin to a private contractor to ulift one of the columns and take it to his foundry to make new mould. Only five of these old columns existed in Hackney at the time.
I was on holiday for two weeks and on my return was greeted by an anguished call from the Contractor who had been arrested for uplifting the column. The Chief Engineer had not got the memo and the police were called! It was typical of the dysfunctional state of the organisation at the time.
Eventually it was sorted out and in due course I got my two Victorian lights, plus matching old style seats and litter bins, and my multi-coloured cobbles and it transformed this derelict space into a beautiful little square.