Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dalston Terrace - OBJECT NOW to Hackney's recommendation for total demolition. Wednesday is too late!

Next Wednesday, 5th March, Hackney's Planning Committee will consider its Council officers' recommendation that sixteen Georgian houses in Dalston Terrace should be entirely demolished. Our historic buildings are irreplaceable. The existing damage to the houses is bad enough. Their total loss would be unforgivable. It is not too late for you to object - click on this link.  (...and see below - Ed.).

You can read OPEN Dalston's objections here

The old 1807 and 1820s houses in Dalston Lane, with modern development behind.  (c) Mooneyphoto

The few surviving 200 year old houses in Dalston Terrace represent the history, the character and the identity of Dalston's present and past generations. They represent the spirit of the place. Despite the neglect and indifference of the owners, we have fought long and hard to see the restoration and re-use of these houses (See page 72 - Ed.)  We will not give up.

This video shows the appalling neglect and vandalism of the houses by the owners and, despite its promises to us,  Hackney's historic indifference to their fate and its community's views 

In August 2012 Hackney's Planning Committee were advised that the facades and shop fronts could be retained and restored, as well as having 44 new flats built on the back. Its' members voted for a 'conservation led scheme', which required the retention and restoration of the facades and shop fronts Yet all the experts now realise that if the developer, Murphy, implements the present designs, the buildings will have to be entirely demolished.

Early this year Murphy started demolishing the backs of the houses with Hackney's authority. It was unlawful, as they admit, and we stopped them.

The present designs include creating "open plan" shops. This would involve demolition of ground floor structural walls and would probably lead to the facades total collapse. That is why the developer, Murphy, has now applied for permission to demolish everything. But those designs are totally unnecessary - shopkeepers have been trading from the Dalston Terrace houses  without "open plan shops" for over 100 years. 

                The ground floor interior of one of the 1807 houses planned for demolition (c) Mooneyphoto

Last year the Council's appointed independent expert conservation engineers, Alan Baxter Associates, who reported that, with care, there is potential for some of the surviving 1807 and 1820s Georgian houses to be reused. We think that only one main design change is needed. Don't create "open plan shops". Most of the existing structures can then be retained, repaired and reused. And new flats can also be built at the back.

If Hackney's Planning Committee refuse permission for total demolition Murphy will have to amend its designs by not creating "open plan shops". It could implement the existing planning permission, reusing as much of the structures as is reasonably possible, in a "genuine conservation led" scheme ie one in which the scheme is subservient to the buildings, rather than destroying them.

Retention of the historic houses of Dalston Terrace is a requirement of the Dalston Area Action Plan, which was approved by the Government Inspector and adopted by Hackney's full Council in January 2013. It states, in summary, that  "Existing buildings and open spaces of historic or architectural merit must be conserved... features will be protected and enhanced in relation to....the conservation-led regeneration of the terrace extending from 46 to 86a Dalston Lane..appropriate contemporary design is possible which compliments the restored elements of the Terrace"

Demolition would also be contrary to the Council' policies as landowner, as expressed in The State of Hackney's Historic Environment "Safeguarding  historic physical asserts is a key element in the Council’ regeneration programme and is a proven and sustainable strategy.”

Our objection is not to do with the politics, deception, vanity and greed on display -those are not planning considerations. It is about the value and public benefit to our local culture and identity by conserving historic continuity. It is about Dalston.



  1. I can not think of a terrace or space in London that is more wasted. The only way to retain the existing facade would be to convert into £5,000,000 houses which is a waste of much needed housing space. If this petition is successful the site will remain as it is for years again simply wasting the space. If you really want to save the current buildings, come up with a viable alternative, go to the bank and build it your self. Sorry but this is a classic case of a nice idea not thought through.

    1. You might think that, but this is what the developers' own strucutral engineers, Peter Dann, said "The advantage of retaining the existing structures and renovating to bring them up to a suitable habitable standard is that works and, therefore costs, are reduced whilst maintaining the character of the buildings."

    2. It's quite possible to keep facades and redevelop the rear section without huge costs. It's now done on a regular basis in London.

      The long term value to the area of maintaining these facades will more than make up for the cost, which divided over the lifetime of the buildings should be minimal.

  2. '...that is more wasted...' you say? No, '...that was wasted by LBH...' They ran this terrace into the ground by refusing leases and potential purchasers to take over the properties one by one - which is what the residents and tenants wanted and repeatedly asked for over decades. Those individuals, couples, and families would have restored the terrace.LBH's greed, lies and deception prevented them from doing so. Yes, what's left is a wreck but it would be quite possible for Hackney to work as partners with single owners and tenants and do all it could to restore and conserve and fill in in the terrace with sensitive or imaginative building and/or small gardens.

    1. Toby - you say go to the bank and build it yourself. That's exactly what the shopkeepers did but Hackney sold them off in one lot in 2002 to an off-shore company. Then, in 2013, it did exactly the same again by selling everything to Murphy without seeking offers locally. Michael is right. We urged Hackney to sell to individuals on conditions for refurbishment. But we were ignored. Again. Why?

    2. If LBH were to "work as partners with single owners and tenants and do all it could to restore and conserve and fill in in the terrace with sensitive or imaginative building and/or small gardens", it would be one of the most expensive sites in East London. If one wants to make the heritage/conservation argument, that's fine but be clear that it comes with a cost.
      If however, you want to prioritise addressing the housing shortage and affordability, then demolish and replace with a contemporary apartment block.
      The truly sad thing is that in this case we'll probably get the worst of both worlds - demolition and replacement with Disneyesque mimicry; bad "conservation" & poor housing provision.

  3. Toby - you might think that if we successfully oppose the devloper's demoition scheme Dalston will remain derelict forever. It's what we are always told. But here the developer Murphy, I believe, has already entered into a legally binding development agreement with Hackney - presumably to build out the consented scheme ie conservation led. Now Murphy wants to demolish everything. Why? I know Murphy are very experienced at digging up roads, but what conservation experience do they have?

    1. Steady on! Muphy have good architects involved. The Society for Protection of Ancient buildings have offered specialist assistance and no doubt expert conservation engineers, like Alan Baxter LLP or Morton Partnership, could help find the optinal solutions. Don't give up!

  4. Of course Toby, let's get rid of all old buildings and build more flats... Why stop at these? Knock down all of London and build identical high rises, with no soul, no architectual merit. These old buildings need to be saved so that we can show how retaining the fabric of what is London you can modernise. There are many ways to restore and make them viable, and in this way keep an identity for a street and a burogh.


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 with your contact details.