Letter to English Heritage concerning Dalston and Kingsland Conservation Areas

   Mr Roger Bowdler,
             Director of Designation     
English Heritage
            1 Waterhouse Square
            138-142 Holborn
            London
            EC1N 2ST

21 December 2012



Dear Mr Bowdler                 

Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990
Section 69(3), Schedule 4, Paragraph 7
Concerning the proposed Dalston Kingsland Conservation Area, extension of Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area and the listing of certain buildings nationally and locally

We are instructed on behalf of the persons and organisations named at the foot of this letter with regard to the recommendations made to Design for London by Heritage Adviser, Edmund Bird, which are contained in a draft report dated September 2012 entitled “Draft Heritage Scoping Study for the Local Development Framework Dalston Area Action Plan” (“the Report”). 

You will see the Report concludes that “Historic Kingsland High Street and the western end of Dalston Lane have wholly inadequate heritage protection at present … it is important that the historic environment of Dalston is protected and enhanced as part of the process of planning and management of change and development of Dalston”.  The report makes various recommendations which include:

-      - the designation of the new Dalston Kingsland Conservation Area
-      - the extension of the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area to include certain notable buildings
-      - the addition of certain notable buildings to the National Heritage List for England  and
-      - the addition of certain notable buildings to the LPA’s (Hackney’s) Local Heritage List local list.

The purpose of this letter is to explain the need for English Heritage to urgently consider the exercise of its reserve powers under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas)
Act 1990 to designate the proposed Dalston Kingsland Conservation Area and an extension to the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area and furthermore to add to the English statutory list, and to recommend that the LPA add to its local list, those buildings identified in the Report.

The circumstance in which the Report has been produced is one of great urgency.  The LPA is presently engaged in pre-application discussions, and also in the consideration of planning applications already made, for several major development schemes which will have a very significant impact upon the local heritage assets and buildings of townscape merit identified in the Report. The development proposals of which our clients are presently aware include:

1.         An application by development partners Transport for London and Taylor Wimpey under LPA reference 2012/3404 to develop the two Kingsland High Street sites known as the Western Curve. These developments will directly, and in our clients’ opinions adversely, affect the settings including the views and sun lighting to the Grade II Shanghai Restaurant building at 41 Kingsland High Street and the adjoining Kingsland Public House at 37-39 Kingsland High Street (which English Heritage has recently recommended for local listing) and, in Ashwin Street, the 1871 Shiloh Pentecostal Chapel (which the Report recommends for local listing) and the locally listed Reeves and Sons Printhouse and Colourworks Building (which the Report recommends for statutory listing). The scale of these proposed developments are such that the settings of many other listed and locally listed buildings on or near the High Street will also be affected. We note that TfL have already demolished a locally listed building, the former Kings Arms at 18 Dalston Lane, as part of its works. We understand that the LPA has written to English Heritage as a consultee for its views regarding the Western Curve proposal.

2.         The forthcoming amended application (formerly the refused application 2011/3439)  for redevelopment of 51-57 Kingsland High Street (Peacocks Store) for which a 19- storey rotunda tower is to be proposed which will directly impact upon the High Street buildings mentioned at 1. above and, in addition, on the Grade II Rio Cinema at Kingsland High Street, the Grade II listed Colvestone Primary School, the locally listed NatWest Bank building at 74-76 Kingsland High Street, the Grade II* Listed St Marks church and other notable buildings on Kingsland High Street and locally.

3.         The forthcoming application for redevelopment of the Thames House, Eastern Curve, site with a block or blocks of 9 storeys behind 25 Dalston Lane. This site adjoins Springfield House (which the Report recommends for statutory listing) and Grampul House on Tyssen Street, and the Report recommends the inclusion of both of those buildings within an extended Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area.

4.         The forthcoming application for redevelopment of the Dalston Cross Shopping Centre with towers above exceeding 10 storeys which will impact on numerous of the local heritage assets mentioned above and in the Report.

Since recently coming into possession of the Report we have written to the LPA’s Manager of Design and Conservation, Rodney Keg, to enquire whether the LPA has plans to implement any of the recommendations made in the report and, if so, what the particular timescales for that would be.  We enclose a copy of our message and his reply for your information. It does not appear that the LPA has conducted any scoping report of its own or so far developed any particular plans since obtaining the report in November notwithstanding the urgency we have referred to above.

Our clients’ immediate concern is with regard to the TfL/Taylor Wimpey’s planning application for redevelopment of the Western Curve which is presently before the LPA and is likely to be determined by its Planning Committee on 6 February 2013. 

We are particularly concerned because it is quite clear that Hackney has invested significant sums with TfL to facilitate the redevelopment of the northern and/or southern sites of the Western Curve. We enclose for your attention copies of Minutes of a meeting of Hackney’s Cabinet held on 26.10.09. You will see, at Item 9.4, that the council invested £1,325K in 2009/10 towards the strengthening of TfL’s railway tunnels to facilitate their redevelopment. It may be that additional investments have been made. We have written to Hackney’s information officer to seek clarification as to its investment and partnership interest with TfL in that development but we are presently without a substantive reply.

In these circumstances we consider that the council has financial conflict of interest in considering the development and that there is an urgent need for English Heritage to independently and dispassionately consider the recommendations in the Report and to consider the exercise of its reserve statutory powers under the Act as a matter of urgency. 

Finally we would add that from our clients’ experience of dealing with this LPA, they have little confidence in its willingness to consider and take the necessary appropriate and urgent action to discharge its duties under section 69 of the 1990 Act to designate and to review its conservation areas. It is notable that it has been Design for London rather than Hackney which has commissioned the Report. Our clients’ further note that when designating the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area the LPA omitted certain buildings of obvious merit, for example Springfield House,  – an omission which the Report’s author notes as “extraordinary”.  We also note that Hackney has recently been in a partnership agreement with TfL in relation to the Dalston Square development and that this resulted in the demolition of locally listed Georgian houses, the oldest circus entrance in the country at 12 Dalston Lane and the Dalston Theatre/Gaumont Cinema and damage to the setting of buildings in the adjoining conservation areas.

Having regard to the most unusual circumstances that have arisen here, and the timescales involved, we ask that you to give our clients’ request your most urgent consideration.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully
 
Bill Parry-Davies
Dowse & Co

On behalf of:

Anna Minton Author (Ground Control)
Chris Dyson Architects LLP
Colvestone Primary School Family Association
Dalston Conservation Area Advisory Committee
De Beauvoir Association
Iain Sinclair, Filmmaker and Author (Hackney that red rose empire)
Kingsland Conservation Area Advisory Committee
Lord Low of Dalston and Lady Low
Michael Rosen, Author and Broadcaster
OPEN Dalston
Patrick Wright, Historian and Author (A Journey Though Ruins)
Ridley Road Market Traders Association
Sustainable Hackney
Vortex Downstairs



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