Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Dalston Kingsland towerblock. Hackney goes for the money. Dalston to get Shaft(ed).

At the 'standing room only' public meeting last night at Colvestone Primary School hall local people were outraged to hear that Hackney Council's Head of Planning has signed off the report to its Planning Committee recommending that it should grant planning permission for a 50 metre tall, private 18-storey towerblock on historic Kingsland High Street in Dalston with NO affordable housing. The Council's Planning Committee will meet to consider the report on 7th March.
You can read about the main features of the scheme here.

Over 95% of local people present at the meeting were not aware that the developer's PR company, Four Communications (read more about them below), had already conducted "comprehensive community consultation " about the scheme. One event was in Ridley Road market when 112 people attended. Of the 15 feedback forms returned 50% of respondents stated that they were NOT "broadly supportive of these proposals". A second meeting was held at Centerprise, which included special invitations to contacts previously made, but "very few people attended". This outcome, the developer reported to Hackney, shows "very positive levels of support for the scheme. There is a strong desire from the local residents to see the development brought forward."
The developer and Hackney's commitment to public consultation included commencing the formal planning consultation period 2 days before the Christmas holiday.

Although the Council acknowledges that the greatest need locally is for affordable housing, and its policy is for 50%, the report recommends that there should be NO affordable housing in the development.
The developer has offered to pay £1.7 million to upgrade the Dalston Kingsland station which, the Council says, "presents a unique opportunity to deliver significant public benefits that would support future residential and economic growth in Dalston".
The upgrade involves re-modelling the station canopy and installing 2 lifts.
The developer says that building less than 130 flats over 18 storeys would simply be "financially unviable".
The scheme will have £1 million penthouses and the developer had declared an estimated profit of £10.8 million.

Last year Hackney applied for government money to pay for the station upgrade but this was refused. Local people at the meeting pointed out that other stations locally have had publically funded upgrades. But they don't have a £50million development planned for next door. Are TfL taking Hackney for a ride? Are they planning to dump on Dalston again? (Hackney goes for the money. Dalston to get shafted. Ed.)

English Heritage has objected to the plans as has the Victorian Society which states that the scheme amounts to "overdevelopment which would damage an important historic environment...A tragic missed opportunity for Dalston". Local planning policy requires tall buildings to "not impinge on the setting of, or views to, listed buildings and conservation areas". But Hackney's report says the development "does comply" and that the "scale of the building and its striking appearance would provide an interesting contrast". It would "mark the train station" and "make Dalston town centre more legible".

Boris' Greater London Authority (GLA) has an overarching power to stop such schemes. But the GLA has already commented (following a meeting with the developer and TfL last August) that "The principle of a high density mixed use scheme on this site is in line with London Plan policy" OPEN has raised objections to all these issues with the GLA which has since commissioned an independent financial report on the Dalston scheme. Tomorrow Boris, Mayor of the GLA London Assembly, will consider the report and make a decision. He stopped an inappropriate scheme in Queens Market and recently intervened to prevent wholesale demolition and gross redevelopment in Forest Gate. Will Boris step in to Dalston as he did there - or is there too much money involved to stop the corporate feeding frenzy?


What some of the locals say (from EastLondonLines.co.uk)

You can see details of the application 2011/3439 on the Council's web site here.

It's not too late to make your views known to the Council. Send them in an email to planningconsultation@hackney.gov.uk and put "Planning Application 2011/3439 : 51- 57 Kingsland High Street" in the Subject line

The "Dressed in Green" tower is being promoted by the developer's PR company, Four Communications, which has recruited Hackney's Deputy Mayor Karen Alcock and Councillor Alan Laing (formerly a member of Barratt's PR firm Hard Hat). "We are keen to use Alan’s extensive network of contacts within London politics" said Councillor Laing's new Managing Director whose company is also promoting the new Sainsburys planned for Stoke Newington and the controversial Stamford Hill school development.

PS - Cllr. Alan Laing is no longer representing the people of Hackney - he has resigned. He will be remembered particularly for his work "regenerating" Ridley Road market

PPS Rumour has it that Cllr Mayor Karen Alcock has also resigned as Hackney's Deputy Mayor. Who will replace her? Someone who will stand up for Dalston we hope.

1 comment:

  1. It is hard to resist the suspicion that the whole argument around the improvements to the station is running to a script cooked up between the council and the developers with TfL happily playing a bit part. The timing of the apparent failure to get a grant is suspicious.
    As was argued at the meeting, other stations on this line have had these improvements funded by TfL.
    There is something fishy about this and our esteemed councillors don't look like they are much interested in standing up for Dalston on this or anything else to do with this travesty.

    ReplyDelete

Please leave comments that will add to the debate! We will not publish comments which are abusive or repetitive.

If we do not publish your comment and you are unhappy, please email info@opendalston.net with your contact details.