Sunday 9 October 2016

If you love Dalston's character then now's your chance to say so

If you love Dalston's architectural and historic character you have until 31 October to make you views known. Hackney Council's is consulting on long awaited plans to extend the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area [DL(W)CA]. Extending the conservation area will give the Council planners wider control to ensure that changes to the local environment preserve and enhance the area's character  - for example changes affecting its buildings (by demolition or alteration), its public and private open spaces, its gardens and trees (which are affected by overshadowing), its road layouts and surfaces (which also affect air quality) and other important features in our environment.

This map shows Hackney's existing DL(W)CA outlined in blue and the proposed extension of it outlined in red. The extension includes many of the historic buildings and streets to the north and west. It highlights in red and yellow the buildings which are already 'listed' and, in pink, the buildings which it considers are of 'townscape merit' importance. It highlights in green 'important trees and green spaces'. 

Do you think anything has been missed out? Your views will count. You can make your comments using Hackney's consultation leaflet here or by making comments online hereWe hope you'll tell the Council if you support its proposals - but don't forget to also tell them about anything else which you think deserves protection and should be included. 

The Eastern Curve Garden  is not shown as an "important green space" on the Council's DL(W) CA map although the appraisal describes it as an "ever-changing community space, where plants, trees and grass contribute to a diverse ecology". Although the Garden's land, and the Peace Mural, will be within the extended DL(W)CA, the use of the Garden's land itself is presently planned by Hackney for re-development as a "shopping circuit" . 

The former CLR James library dates from 1957-9 and was designed by architects Burley and Moore. It is described as a "redevelopment site" ie one for demolition and redevelopment, and is one of the Dalston "Cultural Quarter" sites which Hackney plans to sell

Four locally listed Georgian properties, at Nos. 16-18 and 20-22 Dalston Lane, have survived re-development to date. They will be within the extended DL(W)CA  but are also part of the Dalston "Cultural Quarter" sites which Hackney plans to sell

For a fascinating account of  Dalston's historical development, and why certain buildings, places and views are considered of conservation value, you can read Hackney's appraisal of the proposed conservation area extension here researched and written by an independent heritage consultant, the erudite Dr Ann Robey. 

The last surviving Georgian houses of the Dalston Lane terrace, which the original DL(W)CA conservation area was designed to protect, are no longer shown as buildings of townscape merit on the Council's new DL(W)CA map. Hackney has already given permission to demolish everything and just rebuild  skin-deep facades in "heritage likeness" -  they describe it as a "genuine conservation led regeneration" ( Genuine? Ed.)

OPEN Dalston members have campaigned long and hard to preserve local character and identity. So much has already been lost to redevelopment.

Conservation Area status has not always prevented neglect and development vandalism but finally, it seems, the Council is recognising Dalston's unique value by extending the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area.  (Better late than never! Ed.)

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