Thursday, 29 November 2018

Ridley Road Shopping Village on ITV news 23/11/18

There is a public meeting to support Ridley Road Market Traders starting at 5:45pm next Wednesday 5th December at St Mark's Church Hall, Dalston, E8. Hear what the traders have to say. Listen to this news item - it nails the story.

The treatment by the off-shore developer/landlord is causing the community huge concern  - both for the traders and for the future sustainability of the market. Many of the street market traders rely on storing their barrows and stock in the basement and ground floor of  the Shopping Village building which is marked for re-development. All of the indoor businesses rely on the existing small affordable trading units on the ground floor. Some  60 local artists rely on the affordable work space on the 1st and 2nd floors. All have been told to get out. Many thousands locally rely on the affordable produce which the market offers.

You can contribute to the traders' fighting fund here to help the traders stand up for their legal rights. You can join the thousands who signed the petition here which is bringing the issues to greater public attention.
It is not too late to object to the developer's planning application. ( Do it! Numbers count. Ed.)
You can send an email objecting to quoting reference  2017/2897 51-63 Ridley Road London E8 2NP . 
State that you are objecting. Your grounds may include objections to the plans for :
- a change of use of basement storage facilities, and the first floor, to office use
- a change of use of the first and second floors from artists' studios to office use and residential
- inadequate provision of ground floor units affordable to independent businesses
State your opinion on the effect which the development will have on the character of the market and our local identity.     

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Hackney's "Dalston Conversation" - will it become an actual conversation?

OPEN Dalston has sent written comments to Hackney Council in response to its "Dalston Conversation". What follows is just a nutshell version. You can read our full comments and proposals here.

In 2017 the Council decided to dispose of all the sites it owns, in Dalston town centre's "Cultural Quarter", for development and refurbishment. We have proposed that a Development Trust should manage this process with the community's interests and our cultural heritage at its heart.

The Eastern Curve Garden is presently designated by Hackney as a "shopping circuit". We propose that its future be secured,with new planning policies and proper land tenure, and by opening up new routes locally to help people get about whilst safeguarding the Garden's character.

We have identified opportunities for expanding our green space and linking up with new ones. The "Cultural Quarter" environment, particularly Ashwin Street, remains ideal to  start this process.

We have proposed developing a neighbourhood planning policy, like St Ives in Cornwall, which will restrict the opportunities for absentee owners and buy-to-let landlords to acquire homes in new developments and make them more affordable to local people. 

We have identified the opportunity to capture and recycle the heat and CO2 generated from the proposed new Crossrail2 underground railway.  The wasted heat would feed into a network benefitting new homes. Rooftop greenhouse would soak up the wasted CO2 and return it as oxygen to residents.
We have also proposed a change for the site of the Crossrail2 Dalston Junction underground station, onto the west side of Kingsland Road, which is less environmentally sensitive.Again capturing waste heat and CO2,  we have proposed that the ventilation shafts needed for Crossrail2 underground stations be put to more attractive and good uses.

We have proposed the strengthening of planning polices to ensure that development proposals affecting Ridley Road will not compromise the sustainability of the street market and to ensure that adequate traders' storage facilities, and affordable units for small independent local businesses, will be retained. We have also proposed that change from workplace and cultural uses to residential uses should be resisted unless alternative provision is made.

We have repeated these and similar proposals to Hackney Council and the GLA  over many years. Despite the numerous public consultations, they have never received due consideration. We have proposed there now be a community organised public debate with Council representatives. We hope the "Dalston Conversation" will become an actual conversation and that the community will not just be "consulted" but be given the opportunity to participate in Dalston's future development.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Winter Weekend - 1st & 2nd December - arts and crafts exhibition and artists open studios and galleries

This weekend will see DalstonArts150 celebrations for 2018 end with a Winter Weekend of  local artists' open studios and galleries and a very special arts and craft fair.

Join us at St Marks Church Hall in Colvestone Crescent to see work by our hugely talented local artists and makers, all of which will be for sale, and enjoy a delicious meal, snacks and mulled wine.  

There will also be a professional portrait photobooth at the St Mark's exhibition - so come with your friends or family to capture that special moment.

Also over the weekend seven local artists' studios and galleries are opening their doors to the pubic so you can enjoy an aesthetic safari though our streets and speak to the artists personally.

The studios taking part are :
Hempstead May Gallery on Saturday 10 - 5pm at 67 Dalston Lane E8  1PQ
Hang-UP Gallery on Saturday 11 - 6pm at 81 Stoke Newington Road N16 8AD
BSMT Gallery on Saturday and Sunday  11 - 5pm  at 5D Stoke Newington Road N16 8BH
DIY Art Shop on Saturday 11 - 6pm and Sunday 12 - 4pm in Shacklewell Lane and
Resident artists on Saturday 10 - 5pm and Sunday 10 - 2pm at 44b Englefield Road  N1 4HA
Print Club on Sunday 11- 4pm at Unit 3, 10-28 Millers Terrace E8 2DS
Made It Arts and Crafts Club on Sunday 11- 4pm at Tuck Inn, Bradbury Street

DalstonArts 150 celebrations on 2018 have included the Dalston Heritage Exhibition at Bootstraps Printhouse and a guided heritage trail and map

a glorious community gospel choir concert at Shiloh Church,

a film screening at Cafe Oto of "Legacy on the dust - the Four Aces story" including a live interview with the legendary Newton Dunbar who ran the Dalston Lane club for 33 years

 as well as our summer art fair of exhibitions and open studios

This short film tells the story of Dalston's arts heritage over 150 years and explains why the character, cultural uses and affordability of the area is again under threat from "regeneration"

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Has off-shore Ridley Road developer reneged on its promises to Hackney's Mayor?

This week solicitors, acting for the off-shore developer/landlord Larochette Real Estate Inc., have written to traders in Ridley Road Shopping Village telling them they have no right to continue trading there and must get out unless they sign up to new terms this Friday. The new terms seek to load traders with additional charges, deny them the protection which business tenants usually have in law, and would require them to leave on 3 weeks notice given at any time in the future.

Readers will recall that a fortnight ago, after a vociferous and successful community campaign, traders in the Ridley Road Shopping Village had won a reprieve from mass eviction by Larochette Real Estate Inc. 

The communities campaign is back up and running and an appeal for crowd funding has been set up. You can read more of the story, and how you can help, on the CrowdJustice website here

How do the landlord's current actions fit with the promises its UK representative, Rainbow Properties Ltd., made when it met Hackney's Mayor? On 30th October Hackney Mayor Glanville released a statement following that meeting. He said "Rainbow Properties was positive and they reassured us that they will...honour traders' leases and that similar, affordable provision will be included in their planning application.

Ridley Road not only provides a living for its market traders but a source of affordable food and goods for thousands in our community. The Shopping Village building also provides essential storage for the Ridley Road market's street traders. Larochettes redevelopment plans, combined with the Council's own plans to redevelop market stores in Birkbeck Mews, is putting the survival of Ridley Road market at great risk. What could be motivating such high-handed behaviour?

Monday, 29 October 2018

Ridley Road Shopping Village traders get a reprieve and an off-shore landlord

Last Friday 26th October was the day when traders in the Ridley Road Shopping Village were to be evicted. They had been given 14 days notice to get out, by the management company which collected the rents in the covered market. Many of the traders have been there for years. 

But, following an effective community campaign, instead of changing the locks that day the management company handed back its lease to the owners of the building  - Larochette Real Estate Inc, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The Village traders now have an off-shore company landlord.

Larochette had bought the site for £6.5million in November 2016Little is known about Larochette itself but it's UK contact address is also the registered office of Rainbow Properties Limited. Rainbow's director, Guy Ziser, is also a director of two other companies (Neuva and Rosetree) which in 2015 appeared to have shareholdings in a British Virgin Islands company called Maple Ash limited.

Image of the planned redeveloped Ridley Road Shopping Village, designed by Jestico and Wyles, who also designed 57East - the tower next to Kingsland Station - which can be seen in the background of this image

Rainbow is seeking planning permission to turn the Ridley Road Shopping Village into offices and shops plus 10 "high quality duplex apartments"  ( AKA luxury flats - Ed.) on the 1st and 2nd floors and new third floor.  
Rainbow's Planning Statement describes the Ridley Road Shopping Village as already vacant. In fact the Village is occupied by about 20 traders on the ground floor, about 60 artists on the 1st and 2nd floors and provides storage for barrows and stock for the market's street traders.

Some traders panicked when they got the eviction notice and held a "fire sale" of their stock and left

Rainbow's redevelopment plans first came to public attention during the DalstonArts150 open studios event last September when the artists announced they had been asked to vacate by 31st December . Next there was a police raid, when drugs were found at one of the units. The management company then issued an eviction letter to all of the traders. Its letter referred to a discussion with Hackney and the police regarding a Closure Order, and a police notice being served on management, so that "We have no alternative but to any event our landlord's intention is to demolish the building shortly".

In fact there was no Closure Order  - the police had simply required the management company to meet conditions which would reduce local crime. Hackney Mayor Glanville was quick to express concern, describing the managers action as "misleading and a excuse to close the market early". But the managers did not meet the police requests nor withdraw the traders' eviction notices.  

When news of the 14 day eviction notice got out, there was a public outcry. Within days a petition had been signed by over 8,000 people expressing  disgust at the traders' treatment. A deputation of traders went to Rainbow's offices to complain about their treatment. 
The traders formed an Association and instructed solicitors who informed the management company and Rainbow of the traders legal right to a minimum 6 months notice and that they "are not required to and are unwilling to give up possession". A Court injunction application was threatened.
And so, instead of evicting the traders last Friday, the management company handed back its lease to the owner, Larochette Real Estate Inc., which has now become the new landlord of the traders remaining in business.

Image of the planned redeveloped Ridley Road Shopping Village with front ground floor shops and luxury flats above

One exception to business tenants security of tenure is where the landlord intends to redevelop the property and cannot reasonably do so with the tenants in occupation. Redevelopment requires planning permission and so the local planning policies for Ridley Road market, and whether planning permission will be granted, are critical to these traders' futures.

Image of the planned redeveloped Ridley Road Shopping Village with rear ground floor offices and luxury flats above

The Shopping Village is just one of the sites in Ridley Road which is potentially facing re-development.  We have already seen one planning application granted for luxury flats - although this was later overturned by the Courts. Other applications are in the pipeline.

Whilst many of the buildings in Ridley Road would benefit from refurbishment, it is quite a different thing to replace the small affordable units, and market traders’ storage facilities, with unaffordable offices and luxury flats

It wont be the first time Ridley Market traders have been told to "get out".  Our local community has battled for years to keep our street market .The community must remain vigilant and active if the type of affordable street market we currently have -"the beating heart of Dalston" -  is to continue.

UPDATE: 1st November 2018: This piece in the Hackney Gazette reports that Rainbow have now taken over management of the Ridley Road Shopping  village ,  that "Traders will now stay for another six months at least" and that Mayor Glanville has informed Rainbow to revise their planning application because "the renovation should benefit existing traders and local residents". 

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Hackney's "Dalston Conversation" - do you want to talk?

Hackney Council has launched a new website on which people who live, work or play in Dalston can express their hopes and fears for our local future. You can read Hackney's publicity about the Dalston Conversation website here and why they say they have created it.

Last year Hackney resolved to dispose of these town centre sites, in and around Ashwin Street, to a developer to "maximise" the financial return to the Council . They call the sites the "Cultural Quarter". All are owned by Hackney, many are of heritage value, and all are presently occupied for affordable cultural and social uses. Could Hackney change its plans and instead work with the community to set up a Development Trust, to improve and expand these uses, without selling them off?  What do you think? You can comment on the Dalston Conversation map

How does the conversation work?
On the Dalston Conversation home page you'll see "View map and comment". A click on that takes you to the local map. There's lots of speech bubbles on the map and you can click on them to see what others have said - and then you can click on Agree and Share those comments. At the top right corner of the map, in the menu bar, you will see "+Have your say". Click on that and you can then stick a virtual pin in the place you want to talk about and type in your comment. Other people can then agree with and share your comment. Hackney may well place greater weight in future on people's shared concerns and on those comments which most people agree with.

This photo is of the Halloween event at the Eastern Curve Garden last year ( Don't miss it this year! Ed.). The Garden has been under constant threat of being turned into a hard-surfaced shopping circuit linking Dalston Square to Kingsland Shopping Centre. Do you think the Dalston Area Action Plan for the Garden should be changed to protect and expand the Curve Garden? You can comment on the Dalston Conversation web page

Is it a conversation with Hackney? 
Not exactly - the map isn't interactive in the sense that you can have a 2-way conversation with people who have commented or with Hackney. But Hackney says there is more development coming, it's listening to the community, and that "your views will help us decide what our priorities should be" and "we want to make sure that our strategy to secure responsible regeneration has your priorities at its heart. Next year, we’ll set out a clear delivery plan based on your feedback." Hackney will also announce face-to-face events throughout autumn so, if you want to know about those, send an email to 

The Dalston Conversation is not just about the "Cultural Quarter". Hackney want to know your views about the pressure for development of future Crossrail2 stations and the Kingsland Shopping Centre. Could Hackney help develop a neighbourhood plan that protects new homes for local people and not just absent investors and buy-to-let landlords - perhaps something like Cornwall's St Ives Council which requires a proportion of owners to actually live in new developments.

Why do Hackney say they're now listening?
When Hackney announced its plan last year, to dispose of it "Dalston Cultural Quarter" sites to a developer it caused a widespread and hostile reaction locally, particularly about the Curve Garden . We wrote about it here and here . The community's reaction caused Hackney to re-think its plans which is why it has now launched this new consultation called the Dalston Conversation.

Some people say gentrification and Hackney's licensing policies are killing Dalston's nigh time culture and economy. What do you think? Could more be done to ensure that there's something for everyone in Dalston? You could make a comment on the Dalston Conversation map.

Can you be bothered?
You may think, from past experience, that your views will make no difference. Whats changed? The local public's reaction and views expressed last year did cause Hackney to at least re-consider its approach. It's interesting and sometimes surprising to see what other people have to say on the Dalston Conversation website.  Whatever your concerns  - for Ridley Road market, the Curve Garden, historic buildings, affordable homes and work spaces, playgrounds, culture and nightlife, local crime, air pollution - it only takes a couple of minutes to agree with a comment, and to make your own comments. ( Why not give it a try - what's there to lose? Ed

This quote is from the Aarhus Convention, to which the UK is a signatory. It requires early public consultation on environmental issues - like housing, green spaces, heritage buildings and air pollution - "when all options are open and effective public participation can take place" . Hackney says that that is what the Dalston Conversation is offering - but only time will tell.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Over 100 Dalston artists open their studios to the public this weekend

Over 100 Dalston artists will open their studios to the public on Saturday from 11am to 5pm and there will be an exhibition and sale of work at St Marks Church Hall on Saturday extending into Sunday until 5pm as well.

You can plan an aesthetic trail on Saturday from this map showing the open studios. It shows where  the artists' studios, and the exhibition of work for sale ( plus tasty food), will be open to receive you. And don't forget the After Party on Saturday at SET, 27a Dalston Lane til 2am   

The exhibition of art and craft with food for sale at St Marks church hall is on both Saturday 8th until 7pm and Sunday 9th September until 5pm. 

Also on Sunday Dalston will be buzzing with the Hackney One Carnival parade. The parade starts out locally in Queensbridge Road at about 1.30pm and returns from Mare Street along  Dalston Lane from about 3.30pm - see map & timings here. ( Don't miss out on these great cultural events! Ed.) 

This DalstonArts150 short film gives the backstory of Dalston's 150 years of association with the performing and visual arts and explains why the character, cultural uses and affordability of the area are again under threat from "regeneration".

The artists' events are a continuation of the DalstonArts150 celebrations which have included an exhibition at Bootstrap Printhouse, a guided heritage trail and beautifully produced local map ( still available from Eastern Curve Garden),  a gospel choir concert at Shiloh Pentecostal Church and film screenings of our cultural heritage at Cafe OtoThe DalstonArts150 short film gives a background story of Dalston's 150 years of association with the performing and visual arts and explains why the character, cultural uses and affordability of the area are again under threat from "regeneration".