Saturday 13 October 2012

TfL plan private gated community for Dalston

Transport for London (TfL), and its development partners Taylor Wimpey, have unveiled plans for a major private gated community in Dalston. Land with obvious potential for public green space in Dalston is to be entirely enclosed within the new development. TfL has informed OPEN Dalston that "the only viable opportunity for open green space will be that used by the residents and guests of the proposed scheme". In effect a private gated community which will have very little 'affordable' housing and no public open space whatsoever.

TfL/Taylor Wimpey's plan for the Western Curve's northern site at the junction of the High Street with Boleyn Road. The 8-storey scheme will enclose potential public open space for private use.

TfL's plans are part of its redevelopment schemes for the north and south sites of the Western Curve and follow the reinstatement of the railway tunnels for the East London Line extension from Dalston Junction north west to Highbury & Islington station.

TfL's statement also rejects the use of any of its other sites for open green space.

The open aspect and views from the High Street of the listed Reeves Printhouse building and Shiloh Church will be lost by TfL's plan for the southern site of the Western Curve where the possibility of some open green space there has also be rejected.

TfL, and its builders Taylor Wimpey, consulted the Council and some local Dalston businesses about its plans in the early summer. You can read about those plans here and a detailed critique of the schemes here. TfL were then to come back to discuss proposed amendments to the scheme but instead have simply published its plans, with minor amendments, for which it will soon apply for planning permission.

This is a view of TfL's proposed scheme enclosing Ashwin Street. In the foreground is Shiloh Church and the listed Reeves Printhouse building where Arcola Theatre, Bootstraps Roof Garden and Cafe Oto are based. The new development will enclose the space, block sunlight from the street and amplify sound. There will densely packed residents on the upper floors overlooking the street and ground floor shopfronts.

TfL plans do not comply with the guidelines in the Council's Dalston Area Action Plan (DAAP). In July the Government's Planning Inspector conducted a public examination of the Council's DAAP. TfL sent him a written submission that the guidance on building heights on the Western Curve sites, of between 4 - 6 storeys, was unduly restrictive. TfLs present plans include buildings of 8 storeys on the High Street.

You can read OPEN Dalston's written submissions to the Inspector here and here. OPEN Dalston, represented by solicitor Bill Parry-Davies, criticised the Council's DAAP for its failure to make provision for additional public space and increased bio-diversity in Dalston and for the loss of sunlight to public spaces, homes and businesses which will result from the DAAP's proposed building heights.

The missed opportunity for desperately needed affordable housing and open green space in Dalston comes when another proposed development threatens to compromise the intimacy and calm of Dalston only green sanctuary - the Eastern Curve Garden which is also one of Dalston's few secure play areas for our local young children.

The proposed 9 storey redevelopment of Thames House which is on the south and east side of the Eastern Curve Garden. The development will compromise the privacy and sunlight of the Eastern Curve Garden

The Council's DAAP once proposed that the area of the Eastern Curve Garden should become the Dalston Park. Sadly, after public consultation closed, this was changed to designate it as a public thoroughfare and shopping mall.

We will report further if there are any changes to the schemes before the applications are made to the Council for planning permission. If you wish to help bring these schemes to the public's attention please email us at


  1. I feel you have lost your credibility with your constant sweeping accusations against every single proposal for the area. Although I commend you for your work against some of the more inappropriate developments (Dalston Square in particular), simply opposing anything that isn't small scale social housing surrounded by heaps of public space isn't realistic and I don't believe you have the support of local residents in this. Repeating populist arguments about blocking sunlight and lack of public space about whatever it is that is proposed isn't going to help anyone. Guess what, we live in the middle of a very large city and in cities sunlight gets blocked by other buildings. Vacant lots need to be filled and when that happens, some people may experience reduced sunlight on the street. That's not a reason to keep vacant lots. Nor is it a reason to build small scale. Dalston is an urban area where a lot of money has recently been invested in high quality and high capacity public transportation, which is currently underused. The East London Line corridor needs increased density to justify this investment, not three story buildings to ensure enough sunlight in the street. It's true that the area lacks green space and I would hate to see the Eastern Curve Garden closed, but that doesn't mean that you have to oppose anything being built because you want the lot to be used for a park. Your concerns for Ashwin Street are some of the least convincing I've heard. "The new development will enclose the space, block sunlight from the street and amplify sound. There will densely packed residents on the upper floors overlooking the street and ground floor shopfronts." A street is per definition enclosed. By buildings. I don't see how that could be a problem. How does the proposed building amplify sound? And how does it block sunlight when it's located directly to the west of Ashwin Street? And is it an issue that residents overlook the street and shopfronts? Although I share many of your concerns about insensitive, commercially driven developments and gentrification in general, some of us living in Dalston would actually like to see this area improve and develop.

  2. David - thank you for you comment. OPEN Dalston's response to development proposals is informed by the numerous consultations which we have undertaken over many years with people who live and/or work in Dalston. When a scheme is proposed we arrange meetings between the developer and local architects, planners, horticulturalists and others associated with OPEN Dalston. We then make suggestions for improvements, as we have done for this scheme. As a last resort the public's remedy is to object within the planning process. You can call such objections "opposing development" if you wish but that would be oversimplistic. The issue is not whether there is to be development but how it is done, for example does the scheme adequately protect and enhance the natural and built environment, is there adequate social housing etc. These are planning policy requirements which mitigate the developers' commercial objectives. As to height and sunlighting issues, you should note that the TfL/Taylor Wimpey scheme and the emerging Thames House (Eastern Curve) and Kingsland Tower (Peacocks site) schemes all exceed the heights indicated in the Council approved Dalston Area Action Plan.

  3. The impact on TfLs development on Kingsland High St./Ashwin St. is signifcant. Most people involved in the Dalston consultations wanted to see some open green space on part of that site. The development precludes that. Ashwin St. is a cultural hub with live music and performance at Cafe Oto, Arcola Theatre, Arcola Tent and Bootstrap. The enclosure of Ashwin St. will amplfy that sound and concern has been expressed that new residents overlooking the street will, before long, complain of "noise pollution" - as Dalston Square residents are starting to already. It will then be too late to say to them "Well you shouldn't have moved there". How will that be resolved? Or will it just be put down to bad planning?


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