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Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Hackney's "Dalston Conversation" - do you want to talk?

Hackney Council has launched a new website on which people who live, work or play in Dalston can express their hopes and fears for our local future. You can read Hackney's publicity about the Dalston Conversation website here and why they say they have created it.


This pic is of an event at the Eastern Curve Garden which has been under constant threat of being turned into a hard-surfaced shopping circuit linking Dalston Square to Kingsland Shopping Centre. Do you think the Dalston Area Action Plan should be changed to protect and expand it as a community garden?

How does the conversation work?
At the foot of the Dalston Conversation home page you'll see "View map and comment". A click on that takes you to the local map. There's lots of speech bubbles on the map and you can click on them to see what others have said - and you can agree and share those comments. At the top right corner of the map, in the menu bar, you will see "+Have your say". Click on that and you can then stick a virtual pin in the place you want to talk about and type in what you think. Other people can then agree with and share your comment.

Last year Hackney proposed to dispose of these town centre sites to a developer. They are all owned by Hackney and presently occupied for affordable cultural and social uses. Could Hackney work with the community to set up a development trust to improve and expand these uses?  What do you think? 

Is it a conversation with Hackney? 
Not exactly - the map isn't interactive in the sense that you can have a 2-way conversation with people who have commented or with Hackney. But Hackney says its listening and that more development is coming and "your views will help us decide what our priorities should be" and "we want to make sure that our strategy to secure responsible regeneration has your priorities at its heart. Next year, we’ll set out a clear delivery plan based on your feedback." Hackney will also announce face-to-face events throughout autumn so, if you want to know about those, send an email to 


The Dalston Conversation is not just about the "Cultural Quarter". Hackney want to know your views about the pressure for development of new stations and the shopping centre. Could Hackney help develop a neighbourhood plan that protects new homes for local people and not just absent investors - something like Cornwall's St Ives which requires a proportion of owners to actually live in new developments

Why do Hackney say they're now listening?
Last year Hackney announced a plan to develop a number of sites it owns in Dalston town centre - what it calls the "Dalston Cultural Quarter". Its announcement, particularly about the Curve Garden,  caused a widespread and hostile reaction locally. We wrote about it here and here . The community's reaction caused Hackney to re-think its plans and it has now launched this new consultation called the Dalston Conversation.


Some people say gentrification and Hackney's licensing policies are killing Dalston's nigh time culture and economy. What do you think? Could more be done to ensure that there's something for everyone in Dalston? 

Can you be bothered?
You may think, from past experience, that your views will make no difference. Whats changed? The local public's reaction and views expressed last year last year did cause Hackney to at least re-consider its approach. It's interesting and sometimes surprising to see what other people have to say on the Dalston Conversation website. Hackney may well place greater weight in future on people's shared concerns and on those comments which most people agree with. Whatever your concerns  - for Ridley Road market, the Curve Garden, historic buildings, affordable homes and work spaces, playgrounds, culture and nightlife, local crime, air pollution - it only takes a couple of minutes to agree with a comment, and to make your own comments. So why not give it a try? 


This quote is from the Aarhus Convention, to which the UK is a signatory. It requires early public consultation on environmental issues - like housing, green spaces, heritage buildings and air pollution - "when all options are open and effective public participation can take place" . Hackney says that that is what the Dalston Conversation is offering 

Monday, 3 September 2018

Over 100 Dalston artists open their studios to the public this weekend

Over 100 Dalston artists will open their studios to the public on Saturday from 11am to 5pm and there will be an exhibition and sale of work at St Marks Church Hall on Saturday extending into Sunday until 5pm as well.


You can plan an aesthetic trail on Saturday from this map showing the open studios. It shows where  the artists' studios, and the exhibition of work for sale ( plus tasty food), will be open to receive you. And don't forget the After Party on Saturday at SET, 27a Dalston Lane til 2am   



The exhibition of art and craft with food for sale at St Marks church hall is on both Saturday 8th until 7pm and Sunday 9th September until 5pm. 


Also on Sunday Dalston will be buzzing with the Hackney One Carnival parade. The parade starts out locally in Queensbridge Road at about 1.30pm and returns from Mare Street along  Dalston Lane from about 3.30pm - see map & timings here. ( Don't miss out on these great cultural events! Ed.) 



This DalstonArts150 short film gives the backstory of Dalston's 150 years of association with the performing and visual arts and explains why the character, cultural uses and affordability of the area are again under threat from "regeneration".

The artists' events are a continuation of the DalstonArts150 celebrations which have included an exhibition at Bootstrap Printhouse, a guided heritage trail and beautifully produced local map ( still available from Eastern Curve Garden),  a gospel choir concert at Shiloh Pentecostal Church and film screenings of our cultural heritage at Cafe OtoThe DalstonArts150 short film gives a background story of Dalston's 150 years of association with the performing and visual arts and explains why the character, cultural uses and affordability of the area are again under threat from "regeneration".