OPEN Dalston submission to Greater London Authority concerning 51-57 Kingsland Road

OPEN Dalston is an association of people who live or work in Dalston. OPEN is an acronym for Organisation for Promotion of Environmental Needs Limited. OPEN's objects are to promote excellence in the quality of the built environment, in the provision of transportation and in the provision of amenities, and to ensure that changes to these have proper regard to the needs of residents and businesses and the maintenance of a sustainable residential and business community.

The London Plan 2011 recognises Dalston as a 'major town centre' with potential for 'Medium 'growth (it having moderate levels of demand) and with a significant night time economy. It is an 'Intensification Area' with a potential to redevelop the Kingsland Shopping Centre. The London Plan 2011 recognises Ridley Road market as 'an important asset' with scope for environmental improvement and that there is potential for intensification 'including sites along the A10 corridor and those in close proximity to the (Haggerston) station'.

The application site,at 51-57 Kingsland Road, is on a historic high street where the buildings are generally of 3-4 storeys in height. The site neighbours Dalston Kingsland station and overlooks the high street entrance to Ridley Road market.

The application site is not specifically identified for intense housing development in the London Plan. The LPAs core strategy identifies the Haggerston and Kingsland estates, to the south, for major development of additional homes. Development of the application site is not identified as essential to meet the LPAs housing targets.

OPEN Dalston supports a re-development of this site which offers opportunities to replace the existing unremarkable building with an imaginative modern design, which could achieve the greater development potential of the site whilst remaining respectful of its surroundings and which also offers the opportunity to improve the appearance and amenity of the public realm including neighbouring Dalston Kingsland overground station and to make it more accessible, particularly for people with disabilities.

OPEN Dalston considers that the applicant’s proposals neither meet these objectives nor comply with the London Plan. In summary, the proposal amounts to over development which, whilst it extracts huge development value from the site, it does so to the detriment of the surrounding area.OPEN Dalston considers that, for these and the following reasons, planning permission should be refused.

1 Housing provision and density

Dalston is one of the most dense wards in Hackney which is in turn one of the most dense boroughs in London. Its density is not mitigated by any significant areas of open green space. The application is primarily for housing development , there being no significant increase in the proposed retail space.

The site extends to 0.18 hectares and is in a Major Town Centre and has a PTAL rating of 6a. These factors attract policy support under the London Plan for higher densities of housing within the range of 650<1100 habitable rooms per hectare or 240<435 dwellings per hectare

The applicant states that its proposal for 130 dwellings has a density of 2,117 hr/ha. This is almost double the upper London Plan range and is indicative of over development of the site and is contrary to London Plan policy 3.5

The application is for 113 private flats (87%) in the tower and 17 affordable flats (13%) in the pavilion, all for sale. The LPA’s housing policy (July 2005) provides that developments exceeding 10 units should aim to achieve 50% affordable homes of which 60% should be for social rent & 40% for intermediate homes. There is a presumption that all sites which are suitable for private housing are also suitable for affordable housing. The applicant has failed to demonstrate that off-site affordable housing, or cash in lieu, is appropriate for the present application. The applicant’s proposal falls far short of the policy target for on-site affordable homes and for inclusion of an appropriate proportion of socially rented or affordable rented homes and is contrary to London Plan policy 3.11 and 3.12

As noted above, the affordable flats are in a separate block contrary to the LPAs policy for integration of housing tenures and contrary to London Plan policy 3.9. The block is on the noisiest part of the site, overlooking the railway and the high street and with a separate entrance.

In all, 34 flats (26%) would be 3-bed or more of which 14(11%) would be affordable.The LPAs Core Strategy, Policy 20, notes that the greatest need in Hackney is for affordable family housing. The LPA’s policy provides that developments should aim to provide 1/3 of dwellings as 3 bed/4 person homesand 1/3 as 4 bed/4-6 person homes. The applicant’s proposal fails far short of the policy target.

The density of dwellings on the site inevitably compromises the quality of their design. The applicant notes the applicants admission that 30% of the dwellings do not comply with minimum spaces standards identified in the London Plan Policy 3.3 & 3.5

The dwellings will achieve only Code Level 4 of the Code for sustainable Homes. The applicant is unable to claim that this shortfall is mitigated by other policy targets being exceeded.

Recent market indicators show that some 60% of new homes in east London have been acquired by buy-to-let investors. The consequence of this is that families currently living in overcrowded conditions are likely to be attracted to rent new properties which would not normally be considered of adequate size for their needs. Conventional calculations of ‘child yield’ per unit are, in reality, inapplicable. In these circumstances we consider that the provision of child play space should meet and exceed London Plan Policy policy 3.6, unless occupancy is to be conditioned in some way (of which there are no proposals) and we note that the applicants existing provision does not meet current policy guidelines in any event.

2 Height

The development site is adjacent to a surface, and two sub-surface, railway lines, namely the North London Overground line, the East London Line extension and the channel tunnel rail link to Kings Cross. Consequently, due to engineering constraints, there is limited opportunity to site other tall buildings locally. The development will not form part of a cluster of tall buildings but will appear as an isolated structure and an incongruous addition to a historic high street with an existing roof line of generally 3-4 storeys.

The LPAs policy DTC11 provides that new developments should “respect public open space & streets ensuring that building forms are appropriately scaled to their contexts and do not provide excessive overshadowing” and DTC22 “respect and relate to the strong Victorian character, particularly in terms of building height, scale,massing,building line and style and incorporate a regular vertical rhythm”. In our view the design does not acknowledge or respect its neighbours or the locality and pays very limited regard to these policy objectives. Furthermore the building as designed does not meet the 11 codes identified in the Council’s draft Tall Buildings Strategy’and is contrary to London Plan policy 7.6 B d and 7.7.C b and c.

The draft DAAP document March 2009,issued for public consultation purposes, identified the site as having a potential for 4-6 storeys on the high street rising to up to 10 storeys to the rear. The DAAP approved in November 2010 identifies that “A taller building element may be appropriate at the rear of the site, while retaining the scale of the Kingsland High Street frontage intact”. The applicants proposal meets neither of the latter objectives – the frontage exceeds the roof lines of the current High Street to the detriment of nearby buildings’ character and the 18-storey tower exceeds the DAAP indication of a building of potentially between 10 -15 storeys. The applicant provides no adequate justification for a building of the height proposed.

The applicant promotes the design as a ‘landmark’ building however any building of five storeys or above would be taller than its surroundings and so of prominent landmark appearance. No justification is given for a landmark building which necessitates an 18 storey structure.

The DAAP states that “retaining Dalston’s unique character and heritage is a key goal”. A development of modern imaginative design would be consistent with Dalston’s character but the excessive height and mass of the proposal not only fails to strengthen local character and identity but dominates the human scale of the surrounding buildings to the extent of damaging Kingsland High Street’s local character and identity.

3 Impact on the natural environment

The tower exceeds 50 metres in height and is also very wide. The tower will create both long and very wide shadows over large areas of Dalston Kingsland. Like a lighthouse in reverse it will steal light from public space, local homes and roof gardens, businesses, locally listed buildings and from Ridley Road market.

To the east of the site is the entrance to Ridley Road market which extends eastward. The market contributes significantly to the social and economic vitality of the town centre. The southern side of the market experiences some overshadowing presently. We are advised that in early afternoon the tower’s shadow will also reach the market’s entrance and that the shadows will lengthen eastwards along and across Ridley Road as the afternoon turns to evening. The report has failed to consider the adverse environmental, social and economic effects of the development on these sites and further specific information should be sought.

To the north east of the development site are locally listed buildings at 74-78 Kingsland High Street and Grade II Listed Colvestone Primary School. The report has failed to consider the environmental effect of the development on these sites and further specific information should be sought.

To the north of the tower are family homes and roof gardens in Bradbury Mews, businesses in Bradbury Street and public amenity space in Gillett Square. We are advised that all these areas will be adversely affected by shadow, in some cases to an extreme degree. The report has misunderstood the arrangement of occupancy in Bradbury Mews and consequently the degree of blight which will be experienced has been underestimated. A specialist independent consultant has commented to the LPA regarding Bradbury Mews that the statement “ ‘The building is fully BS compliant’ has not been proven and can not be sustained.” and that “an open aspect would be transformed to life in a shadow zone” The applicant’s report has failed to properly explain the environmental effect of the development on these sites and further specific information should be sought.

The noise consultant reports only with regard to the interior environments of the flats, particularly on the towers’ north side adjacent to the railway. The Applicant has failed to report on the impact of airborne sound reflected from the north face of the development , arising from the railway ,on homes and businesses to the north of the development site.

The wind consultant’s report identifies that the design of the development creates accelerated wind speeds locally in public areas so as to render them unsuitable for standing. It states in particular that“localised zones of acceleration have been identified where the criteriafor safety for all pedestrian including sensitive pedestrians and cyclists is exceeded. The likely zones of wind accelerationinclude the north-west and south-west corners of the taller building”.

4 Impact on Townscape and Heritage Assets

The Tavenor report Townscape and Visual Assessment acknowledges the existence of the four conservation areas which surround the site and the presence of the Grade2 listed building at 41 Kingsland High Street (formerly Cooke’s Eel Pie and Mash shop). The report concludes that the development will not harm the views and settings of any relevant heritage assets and that no mitigation measures are required. We strongly disagree for the following reasons.

The Grade II listed building at 41 Kingsland Road forms part of a terraced group of four storey heritage buildings at 39-49 Kingsland Road constructed in about 1902/3 (“the group”). In our opinion the front elevations of this group comprise one of the most attractive terraces surviving in Dalston in view of the diversity and quality of the designs and the fine detailing. They are in a prominent position opposite the high street entrance to Dalston Kingsland shopping centre. The Tavenor report fails to recognise the quality of this group’s elevations and to assess the impact of the development on them.

The Tavenor report does focus on 41 Kingsland Road but only on the unattractive recent additions to the rear and on its splendid interior which would be unaffected by the development. However the listing record for 41 Kingsland Road records the character and detail of its front elevation in considerable detail. It is the whole building which is listed, not just it’s interior. The Tavenor report fails to consider adequately the character of the elevation and the setting of the listed building, and its group, and the adverse impact which the development would have on its setting.

The proposed 6/7 storey frontage plus roof terrace of the proposed development would immediately abut the group in an overbearing manner and would dominate it and thereby diminish its character and prominence. The photo-montage views numbered 1 and 4 illustrate this point. We consider that limiting the development frontage at 51-57 Kingsland Road to three storeys with a roof terrace, and the gradual stepping up westwards, would preserve the setting of the listed building and its group whereas the proposed development would damage it.

To the east of the proposed development are listed buildings within the St Marks Conservation Area. These include St Marks church (Grade II*) and also the arts and crafts Colvestone Primary School (Grade II) which is within 100 yards of the Ridley Road market entrance on Kingsland Road directly opposite the proposed development. The Tavenor report again omits any assessment of the effect on the school and fails to produce any photographic impression of the impact which the development would have on its setting. We consider that effect would be significant given the proximity and the height of the proposed development. The only photomontage presented is one taken a considerable way east along Colvestone Crescent and from where the development would not be visible.

Opposite the proposed development are the locally listed buildings at 74-76 Kingsland High Street. The Tavenor report fails to consider the effect of the development on their setting at all.

Over some years the characterful period buildings of Boleyn Road (south of Crossway), have all been carefully restored and developed to a human scale. They provide the western entrance and the setting of Gillett Square and Bradbury Street which are of considerable importance locally for its public amenity space and for the Vortex Jazz Club and numerous independent businesses. The distant photo-montage view 7 gives some indication of the incongruous presence of the tower, and in particular its bleak north face, which would dominate an area of micro-regeneration and creativity. The detrimental effect of the tower would be increasingly apparent when approaching south along Boleyn Road.

The Tavenor report fails to consider the setting of the listed Rio Cinema, and in particular the bleak north face of the tower, when arriving in the Town Centre past the Rio from the north. The tower, and the proposed floor heights and the stepping up of the lower storeys, would all exceed the existing roof lines and would appear overscaled and would diminish the prominence of the high street buildings.

We consider that the sheer 18 storey elevation of the tower on its west side severely compromises Boleyn Road and its future development potential.

We consider that the Tavenor report’s failure to consider all the relevant heritage assets which would be adversely affected by the development is a serious omission and that the report is not compliant with PPS5, HE6.1 and 6.2., DTC22

We also consider that the proposed development does not acknowledge or respect the historic setting and would not preserve or enhance the local heritage assets but would infact damage their settings. For this reason the proposed development as currently designed is not compliant with PPS7 , the London Plan 7.8.D, the LPAs Core Strategy Policies 24 and 25 and the DAAP Policies DTC02 and 03
We also consider that the proposal it is not compliant with the Council’s policy comprised within “The State of Our Historic Environment”

5 Public realm

The site adjacent to the development which provides a triangular plot (defined by Kingsland, Boleyn, and the Railway) which invites and requires a more comprehensive approach from an urban design point of view and which should contribute more significantly to the improvement of the public space.

A ‘Major Town Centre’ needs public areas at ground floor, and the current proposal does not provide any space, but pushes the public area towards already congested zones, leaving only minor improvements to deal with the added density. Furthermore there is no apparent integrated relationship with other public spaces : Ridley Road / Gillet Square./ Boleyn Road/ Ridley Road/ the station.

The frontage on Boleyn Road is poor: it is not an ‘active frontage’ as claimed, but a typical ‘back’ with parking access, EDF transformer and the rear fa├žade of the shop (no access) and service entrance. It potentially blights Boleyn Road. This site offers the opportunity to transform the access from Boleyn Road into a key threshold to the ‘town centre’. Many people will approach the development from that west side and the development should address this in its design but has not done so.

The large ‘private lobby’ leading to the apartments is a poor design decision and a poor frontage for the development on the surrounding public spaces. For a development of this size, this passage should be public, not private.

Much is made of the roof(s) in the images. The accessibility to the public or residents is however very limited, and the case made is practically, technically and financially not convincing. If, for example, the roof is to be accessible, the lift core will end up taller than shown and the building will end up looking very different; tall balustrades will be required for comfort (wind) and security/safety. This has not been thought through or detailed sufficiently on the application drawings.

6 Employment

As noted above the development does not significantly increase the existing retail offer and fails to make any provision for employment uses on the upper floors contrary to policy DTC – CA1

The adverse effect on the natural environment is detrimental to the local businesses effected and in particular to Ridley Road market

7 Transport

The site is adjacent to Dalston Kingsland Railway station, a single storey structure fronting the Kingsland High Street. The station entrance building forms an unnatural break in the street’s roof line which is generally of 3-4 storeys and the entrance therefore has obvious potential for development to that height. We note that the proposed development appears to show windows on its northern boundary overlooking the railway and we presume that the adjoining landowner, Transport for London, has agreed to forgo the right to develop its air space above the station. We consider that any such agreement is detrimental and that development of the station entrance would provide the opportunity to improve the townscape.

The present use of the ground floor commercial unit is by Peacocks, a clothing retailer. The site’s previous occupant was Sainsbury’s supermarket. The Applicant argues for building over the Boleyn Road delivery yard to the rear of the site which may not be required for the current occupant. We consider that future occupancy of the site is likely to change over the duration of the buildings’ lifetime and the absence of a delivery yard will restrict potential future uses and/or compromise the traffic management and residential character of Boleyn Road

8 Ecology

The applicant places great emphasis of the building’s ecological credentials – the building is 'dressed in green' - but there is no explanation of who will undertake the necessary maintenance of the planting (and particularly the intensive management and maintenance required of vertical gardens), or of the urban agriculture proposed, or pay for it. No vegetation is sustainable on the bleak North Face of the tower.

9 Public Consultation

The draft DAAP document March 2009, issued for public consultation purposes, identified the site as having a potential for 4-6 storeys on the high street rising to up to 10 storeys to the rear. Following public consultation the DAAP which was approved by the Council in November 2010 identifies that “a high quality appropriately designed taller building, set back from the Kingsland High Street frontage subject to compliance with Section 4.5 relating to tall buildings” ...”(‘taller’ being taller than the surrounding buildings) and provide a plan indicating a building of potentially between 10 – 15 storeys. The change in policy, regarding an increased building height, was not subject to public consultation.

We are informed that the applicant’s pre-application consultation did not include discussion with Colvestone Primary School which will be directly affected by the proposed development. We understand that the school presently has no additional capacity.

We are informed that the applicant’s pre-application consultation did not include discussion with Ridley Road Market Traders Association which will be directly affected by the proposed development. Whilst the applicant did produce its plans to members of the public in the market this occurred during the traders working hours.

The applicant’s Statement of Community Involvement incorrectly claims to have held a briefing meeting with representatives of OPEN Dalston and the Eastern Curve Garden on 30.6.11.

The applicants representative met two members of OPEN Dalston on 30.6.11. No prior indication was given that this meeting was a part of any consultation process. At the meeting OPEN Dalston's representatives indicated that they could not comment on the proposal until it had been presented and discussed by a larger OPEN Dalston group and they offered the applicants representative the opportunity that OPEN Dalston could organise a public meeting where the proposal could be presented and discussed. A further offer was subsequently made in October 2011. The applicant did not respond to either offer.

The applicant has never met with the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden Steering Group. The applicant approached the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden with a proposal to hold a 'Public Exhibition' at the Garden and this proposal was declined.

The applicant, in its Planning Statement, claims that OPEN Dalston “recognised the benefit of the proposals to the local area”. OPEN Dalston has not, and does not, support the proposal in its present form and none of its members have indicated otherwise.

10 Over development

We consider that the applicant’s proposal would amount to over development of the site by reason of its excessive scale, mass, height and density. Several indicators support this conclusion notably the incongruous appearance of the tower looming over the streetscape, the inadequate sizes of the proposed dwellings, the adverse impact upon the natural environment of the surrounding area and the detrimental impact on the area’s historic assets. Whilst the development may extract huge value from the site’s relatively modest footprint, it does so at the expense of the surrounding natural and built environment.

11 Conclusion

We consider that, for the forgoing reasons, planning permission should be refused.