In the post of March last year we celebrated OPENs tenth birthday which concluded by foreshadowing some developments for 2016.
We welcomed, after three years of campaigning, the proposed new Dalston Conservation Area (which it is hoped will go before the Council for approval in January). But we also raised concerns about areas which had been missed out - what Hackney has called Dalston's "Cultural Quarter" - the Reeves Printhouse, the Railway Tavern, the old houses at 10-16 Ashwin Street and 16-22 Dalston Lane, Why was Hackney not conferring Conservation Area protection on them as well, we asked? Was there another plan?
It now appears that on 23 November Hackney's Cabinet approved plans to sell four of these Dalston sites in a single development agreement with a private sector partner. It's Finance Director confirmed that the plan would "maximise capital and rental values" for the Council. The Council had not consulted anybody about whether such a strategic decision, affecting many of Dalston's much loved public buildings and cultural enterprises including the Eastern Curve Garden, should be disposed of in such a manner or, indeed, at all.
The Council responded to the Hackney Citizen by saying it would be consulting on the plan. But how can the Council consult genuinely now, after the strategic decision has already taken by its Cabinet?
We also foreshadowed the planned implementation of Crossrail 2, aka the Chelsea to Hackney tube (although it will no longer being going to Hackney Central). The plans now appear to threaten demolition not only of historic buildings in Dalston and Kingsland but possibly whole streets of businesses and homes, for example Bradbury Street. Transport for London have allowed until only 8th January for the public to respond to its proposals. You can read our review of the plans, "Look out Dalston! Dont Get Hit By A Runaway Train ", and you can make your views known to TfL here, Consultation closes on 8th January.