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".

Thursday, 23 August 2018

This Monday 27th August - Winstan Whitter and friends screen "The Bastille Concerto " and "Legacy in the dust -the Four Aces story".

Winstan Whitter will be presenting and discussing his brilliant documentary film "Legacy in the dust: The Four Aces story" at a rare screening in Cafe Oto on Monday 27th August as part of the DalstonArts150 celebrations. You can read more about it and get tickets in advance here and on the door. The evening will begin with a very special treat - a trailer to Winstan's latest film "The Bastille Concerto" (see below)

Sharing the platform with Winstan will be the legendary Newton Dunbar who ran the Four Aces Club for 33 years at 14 Dalston Lane until its eventual compulsory purchase by Hackney Council and its demolition to subsidise the redevelopment of Dalston Junction - particularly TfL's £64million bus stop on The Slab above the station. ( You can read here the incredible but true Dalston story of the looting of public funds and of corporate welfare subsidy. Ed)

Also on the platform with them will be Keith Drummond, the former lead singer of the roots rock reggae band Black Slate and a regular performer at, and patron of, the Four Aces Club.

And there's a very special treat in store to start the evening - a sneak preview of Winstan's current 'work in progress'. This is how he describes it:

The Bastille Concerto
Director:  Tony Collins + Winstan Whitter
2018, 10mins
A short taster of a new film by Tony Collins and Winstan Whitter. 
The Bastille Concerto is the story of a piece of music composed by Malcolm 'Shorty' Jarvis whilst in prison with his friend Malcolm X. 
Now, 70 years after it was first composed it is being resurrected in the UK by a generation of Jazz artists who form part of its fascinating history.

Clifford Jarvis - the son of 'Shorty' who wrote the Bastille Concerto

"The Bastille Concerto" traces the story of a jazz composition passed from father to son and reveals links between Boston USA and Dalston UK and the part played by Pyramid Arts in its former home at 10-14 Ashwin Street, Dalston. The film includes footage of the brilliant jazz drummer Clifford Jarvis, known for his work with Sun Ra's Akestra, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders and others, who settled in Dalston. Clifford became a mentor to many of the talented young musicians emerging in the UK 1980s jazz scene who have later gone on to win international acclaim.

The film evening is hosted by Cafe Oto in continuation of the DalstonArts150 celebrationsForthcoming events include a not-to-missed weekend of local artists' open studios on Saturday 8th September 

and an exhibition of art and craft with food for sale at St Marks church hall on both Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September. 

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

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Unmissable opportunity to see Winstan Whitter's "Legacy in the dust - the Four Aces story"

Here's a rare opportunity to see Winstan Whitter's brilliant documentary film "Legacy in the dust: The Four Aces story". It will be screened at Cafe Oto on Monday 27th August as part of the DalstonArts150 celebrations. You can read more about it and get tickets in advance here and on the door.

The film charts the story of the legendary Four Aces reggae club which started life in 1966 in Dalston's  old 1886 Circus and Victorian Variety Theatre entrance halls at 14 Dalston Lane. The venue soon acquired an enviable reputation and went on to present reggae and soul artists of international standing, and later became The Labyrinth hosting dances and raves attracting thousands of visitors.

The main entrance of the former Labyrinth Club in Roseberry Place off Dalston Lane. The 1886 building was originally a circus, later a Victorian variety theatre and then the Gaumont Cinema until 1963

The film documents the developing cultural scene, with interviews and contemporary film footage, and explores the club's contentious relationship with the police and the local Council and its eventual closure and demolition to satisfy the requirements of the developers of Dalston Junction

The film is one of several which have built Winstan Whitter's reputation for radicaL documentary film making - others include You Cant Move History about the fight to preserve skateboarding on the South Bank and Save our Heritage  about the destruction of Dalston's architectural and cultural heritage. Winstan will be present to discuss his films and to present a trailer for his latest film - which traces the story of a jazz concerto passed from father to son, and reveals links between Boston and Dalston and the part played by Pyramid Arts of Dalston's Ashwin Street in the emerging 1980/90s jazz scene in the UK. (Fascinating stuff! Ed.)

This short film gives a Dalston background story of its 150 years of association with the performing and visual arts and an explanation of why the character, cultural uses and affordability of the area is again under threat from "regeneration" .

DalstonArts150 has been staging various events in 2018 to celebrate Dalston's 150 years of association with the performing and visual arts. Forthcoming events include a weekend of local artists' open studios  and an exhibition and sale of work at St Marks church hall on 8th and 9th September. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Hackney's planners blight Dalston's Curve Garden and public realm

Last Wednesday 6th June Hackney's Planning Committee gave permission for the Curve Garden's new Big Bad Neighbour to be built on the Thames House site next door.

The development will be like a 30 metre high cliff running right along the Curve Garden's southern boundary, not only blocking out most of its morning and early afternoon sunshine, but dominating the open space and destroying its feeling of intimacy.  You'll see the plans reported previously here.

In granting permission the Committee also pulled the final curtain across the Council's long planned Eastern Curve pedestrian 'green' public walkway. Sunshine will now be almost completely blocked out for the entire length of the proposed new public realm which curves eastwards from the Peace Mural along the former railway line round towards Dalston Lane bridge where it once joined up with the North London overground line.

The decision will have a particularly devastating impact on the community's Curve Garden and the 130,000 visitors each year who enjoy the natural environment in a dense urban setting, find solace there and enjoy its diverse cultural events.  

School children, who have very little access to open green space locally, come to play in the sunshine and learn about plants in a secure and secluded environment. The space will now become overshadowed and overlooked. 

The designs for the  new Thames House redevelopment have also been criticised for its sub-standard accommodation - the  new affordable family homes have been pushed into the darkest corner of the site (Block C) where 75% of kitchens,45% of bedrooms and 31% of living rooms will fail to meet BRE standards for natural light. Also contrary to planning policy, there will be no common amenity areas for the private residents and office workers.The cramped and overcast open spaces are said to be for "access only".

Strong objections were made to the Committee by Dalston Ward Councillors Soraya Adejare and Peter Snell as well as an impassioned plea from the Curve Garden's Marie Murray. Bill Parry-Davies, for OPEN, referred to the clear breaches of the Dalston Area Action Plan and the Council's recent Appraisal which warned that the greatest threat to the Conservation Area's character and numerous local heritage assets was from "large scale redevelopment" of precisely this type.

Planning Committee Chair Vincent Stops celebrating Hackney's "regeneration".
Who's been running rings round Mr Stops? Council officers and developers? Ed.)

Such was the Committee Chair, Vincent Stops's, enthusiasm  for the scheme that he proposed the Committee move to discussion and vote as soon as the objectors' allotted 5 minutes was completed. He had to check himself when realising that, in his "excitement", he had not thought it necessary to invite the developer's agent to justify its proposals. The Committee voted 5:1 to rubber stamp its planning officer's recommendation to approve the Thames House re-development scheme.

Despite the hundreds who have recently expressed their concern for the Curve Garden to the Council's planners it all seemed, once again, that the public's opinion - and even objections from our elected representatives - carried very little if any weight. Criticisms had been made of the planned development from the outset, but little was changed. Those criticisms were repeated again and amplified when the application was formally published and again when put to the Committee for approval.

The Eastern Curve public realm

Hackney's planned Eastern Curve public realm started life as a proposed "linear park" in the draft Dalston Area Action Plan (DAAP). That received public support but, after the consultation closed, the Council changed the proposal to a hard surfaced "shopping circuit", linking Dalston Square to a proposed re-developed Kingsland Shopping Centre, with "some"green spaces. Despite OPEN's objections to the loss of bio-diversity, and the lack of evidence that a 'retail led' plan was viable, the government inspector approved the amended DAAP in October 2012.

The Eastern Curve planned new public realm started to take on its cliff like form when the 14-storey Kinetica Apartments tower obtained planning approval in 2007.

Next to it came the 8-storey Point1 Apartments in 2008

Finally, after the slow recovery following the 2009 banking crash, came Martel Place with its token  "public space" in a north facing canyon where the sum rarely touches the ground. The Thames House redevelopment will pull the final curtain across the Council's Eastern Curve public walkway and block out the remaining sunshine except at the very end of the day in summer.

The future of the Curve Garden

The damage to the Curve Garden's setting, and indeed its survival, will be compounded by new risks arriving with the Council's latest plans to "regenerate" the Dalston "Cultural Quarter". Hackney bought  the bomb damaged  1-7 Ashwin Street (Site 2), and the buildings and land bounding the Curve Garden's entrance, in 2009. It reported that its "masterplan has identified the need to regenerate the north side of Dalston Lane and Ashwin Street as a natural progression of the ongoing development to the south with Dalston Square” ( It didn't explain what was "natural" about the Dalston Square  development. Ed.)

In 2010 it then demolished the charming old houses at 2-8 Ashwin Street, without a full structural survey to investigate their potential for retention, to create another redevelopment site. Both of the 1-7 and 2 - 8 Ashwin Street vacant sites, as well as the surviving houses at 10-16 Ashwin Street which have been occupied for decades as affordable cultural workspace, and an unidentified area of the Curve Garden's land, are now included within Sites 2 & 3 as part of Hackney's plans for sale to a "private development partner" on terms which  will "maximise capital value and rental revenue for the Council". The Council will shortly unveil plans for a new public consultation on these proposals.

In September 2006 "The story that was never told"was published here. It described the authorities plans for demolition and "regeneration" of the south side of Dalston Lane. The story concluded with a prediction : "the authorities have already started work on Dalston Lane North. The planned destruction of historic Dalston is almost complete. The writing is on the wall." Since then we have witnessed the Council subsidising private developers to destroy the Dalston Colosseum, the  Dalston Lane Georgian terrace and the demolition or blighting of listed and locally listed buildings by TfL/Taylor Wimpey's developments to the north of Dalston Lane

The Dalston Cultural Quarter contains the last remnants of Dalston's architectural and cultural heritage and is now up for grabs. The Curve Garden, affordable cultural workspace and affordable housing are all at risk..

This short film gives a Dalston background story and an explanation of why the character, cultural uses and affordability of the area is again under threat from "regeneration

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Shiloh Pentecostal Church are offering Dalston a MASSIVE treat!!

Next Sunday 3rd June stars from the  London Community Gospel Choir  will be performing at the  Shiloh Pentecostal Church, Ashwin Street Dalston. Pastor Francis Lewis will open its doors at 6.30pm and inviting everyone in our local community, of all faiths and none, to share this massive treat. This event begins at 7pm and will be unmissable! It is part of the DalstonArts150 events celebrating Dalston's 150th anniversary of its association with the arts

Pastor Lewis, and musical director Jonathan Tuitt, have assembled some the finest stars of UK gospel music who will be performing a Night of Praise. The London Community Gospel Choir  travel the world enthralling audiences with their vibrancy, passion and the beauty of their music

Also performing will be Howie Hutchinson, born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1969, and who from an early age was said to have been created by God to sing. They were right! He is now a hugely popular reggae star

Also performing is Hackney's very own singing star Shezar - a young woman who is deservedly attracting more and more attention!

This will be an unforgettable evening as part of DalstonArts150 events celebrating the 150th anniversary of Dalston's association with the arts.  And if you arrive in good time then pop into the Printhouse at 18 Ashwin Street to see the DalstonArts150 exhibition. It tells the story about Dalston's diverse cultural and architectural heritage and is open from 3-9pm over the weekend