Sunday 9 December 2012

TfL reject "small green oasis in the heart of Dalston"

There is no public green space and virtually no affordable housing planned in a major gated community scheme for which Taylor Wimpey/TfL (Transport for London) have now applied to Hackney Council for planning permission.

TfL's plan to "green up" Dalston is limited to planting some street trees. This image is from their planning application documents.

The Taylor Wimpey/TfL application is, as previously reported, to develop two sites fronting Kingsland High Street just north of Dalston Junction. The Southern site is on the east side of the High Street adjoining Ashwin Street. The Northern site is on the west side adjoining Boleyn Road.

Developer's image of the 8-storey Boleyn Road northern site. It will have 59 flats and 850sq m ground floor commercial uses

There will 108 new flats across both sites,with ground floor shops bars and offices, but only 10 flats will be for "affordable" social rent. The rest will be for sale. The railway sites are public land owned by TfL,which is an agency of the Greater London Authority whose policy target (like Hackney's) is to achieve 50% affordable housing.

The Council's public consultation officially closes on 20th December. The Planning Committee decision is expected in early January or February. You can see the planning application documents here and make comments here

The Northern site block will be 8 storeys. The buildings surrounding it are 3 and 4 storeys

Since April we have been suggesting that small parts of the development sites should include pockets of managed green public space, to create a "green route" north from Dalston Lane up Boleyn Road towards Butterfield Green and Clissold Park.
Hackney's award winning social enterprise Growing Communities, and Grow Cook Eat which manages the award winning Eastern Curve Garden, have both welcomed the idea and say our scheme for "small green oasis in the heart of Dalston" is viable.
Taylor Wimpey acknowledge the public support for the idea but have told us that "the only viable opportunity for open green space will be that used by the residents and guests of the proposed scheme". So, very little public benefit is planned for this development.

Shanghai is in a Grade2 listed building and is part of an exquisite 1902 terrace on the High Street next to the northern site

TfL/Taylor Wimpey say that creating "open space would not be compliant with the Dalston Area Action Plan (DAAP)" but in fact the Council's design guidance for the sites states that "new and improved areas of green open space and/or public realm will be encouraged".
Contrary to the DAAP guideline for 4-6 storeys on the sites TfL/Taylor Wimpey are packing an 8-storey building onto the northern site and the scale of it will dominate this 1902 historic terrace. It will overshadow it to such an extent that, according to TfL's own consultants "there will not be acceptable sunlight access to the buildings". Even the design for their private amenity space within the gated development "does not provide adequate daylight according to the garden and open space sunlight assessment".

This developers' illustration shows the shadow effect of the 2 developments in summer - when the sun is at its highest.

On the southern site TfL propose a 6-storey continuous terrace which will block sunlight and views from the High Street of the Ashwin Street locally listed Reeves Printhouse and Colourworks building and the Shiloh Church.

Developers illustration of the southern, Ashwin Street, site. It will have 49 flats and 750 sq m of commercial uses including retail, cafes and bars.

To service the commercial uses Ashwin Street will become a "shared space" for pedestrians and HGV delivery/waste collection vehicles. Some windows of Reeves Printhouse, presently used by Arcola Theatre, will lose over 25% of their light and the outdoor seating areas in front of Cafe Oto will also become significantly overshadowed.

This developers' illustration shows how Ashwin Street will be enclosed by the 6-storey development where once there were 2-3 storey buildings. The scene is late morning before the shadows lengthen. Afternoon & evening sunlight, and views, from the west will be blocked.

Consultants recommend high sound insulation for the flats, due to the railway and High Street traffic noise and so, they say, noise from performances and punters in the Ashwin Street creative hub shouldn't be a problem for new residents. (I hope they don't need to leave their windows open or sit out on the balconies. Ed),

TfL schemes are not noted for prioritising design excellence. TfL's Dalston Square development is creating, as predicted, a hard landscaped, overshadowed, wind-tunnel in the canyon between the tower blocks. The development resulted in the loss of historic Dalston Theatre and locally listed Georgian houses. Experience does not fill us with confidence in TfL's current proposals.

OPEN Dalston urges all of Dalston's community to consider the current planning application carefully. We will report more details as they emerge. Think of the needs of our future generations, as well as your own needs, before you send your comments to the Council


  1. Surely if you want more green space in addition to buildings that address the housing shortage, one should be making the argument for taller buildings?

  2. The Greater London Authorty (GLA's) London Plan argues that constructing tall buildings to meet housing need helps preserve and enhance public green space. But TfL, a GLA agency, obtained permission to build 18-storey towers on Dalston Square but there is to be virtually no green space at all. Similarly TfL and Taylor Wimpey are proposing buildings on the Western Curve which exceed the Council's and Government approved guidelines on height but, again, there is no public green space proposed whatsoever. Developers have no difficulty arguing for increased height but there is no money in it for them to provide public green space and so that's why we have to make those arguements.

  3. A significant proportion of Dalston Sq is open, publicly accessible land planted with trees, benches etc. If the same housing densities were to be achieved with low-rise development then this open space would not be available. Whilst obviously every tall building doesn't provide open space, on a macro level, if one utilises the space above our heads by building up, this lessens the need to build over the entirety of the site. One cannot credibly simultaneously argue for more open/green space, and oppose tall buildings whilst claiming to address the housing shortage. There are plenty of valid arguments for/against all kinds of development but surely feigning spatial illiteracy shouldn't be amongst them?

  4. HUDD - Hackney and an independent governement Planning Inspector have already detemined, for environmental reasons, that 4-6 storeys is the appropriate scale for the Western Curve sites. TfL/Taylor Wimpey are asking for 6-8 storeys. You'll have an uphill battle if you want to argue they should go taller.

  5. I'm not sure that anyone is arguing for anything taller than the proposal for the Western Curve sites, I was merely pointing out that OPENDalston's position of arguing for a shorter building with more green space whilst claiming to address housing need, makes no spatial sense.

  6. just noticed this on Dalston SQuare Res Assoc website but couldnt find anything else about it "dates are now set for the next 2 presentations of the proposed development of the Holy Trinity School site (the school on Roseberry place at the south end of the Square). This will give you the opportunity to see the latest plans of, meet the team behind, and share your thoughts on, the proposed 11 storey development. Both will be held in the school itself (entrance on Beechwood Road) with the first being on Thursday 10th January from 4pm to 8pm, the second on Saturday 12th January from 10am to 2pm."

    On a broader question of development and density. Building high rise private housing which imports more people into the borough and escalates property and rental levels doesn't address Hackney's housing need - it exacerbates it! Housing need is instead being shunted around the capital. Add to this the news that many of the Dalston Square properties have been bought as long term investments and some not even let out. Dalston is already one of the most densely populated wards in the UK.


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