Monday, 25 October 2021

Council dereliction puts Dalston Nursery School toddlers at risk

Hackney's failure to progress a controversial planning application affecting Grade II listed Colvestone Primary School has resulted in the decision being taken out of the Council's hands. Last May the developer of a neighbouring site appealed against Hackney's delay and the decision whether to approve the scheme will now be made by the government's Planning Inspectorate. Although the Inspector will have professional qualifications, s/he is unelected, has limited local knowledge of this very sensitive site and will only consider written and not personal representations

Grade II Listed Colvestone Primary School 

The development scheme, which would see a three storey building across the southern boundary of the nursery school's only open space, has had a controversial history. Hackney's approval of a previous scheme was overturned on a judicial review  in 2016 when the High Court found that the Planning Committee had been misled about the extent of overshadowing which the development would have on the Nursery School's open space. The current three storey proposal, by new owners, has also attracted considerable community criticism and objections. 

The new building will see a 9 metre high featureless wall across the nursery schools southern boundary

To help protect the school's open space an application was made successfully last August by the Friends of Ridley Road to designate the site as an Asset of Community Value. You can read the background story here. Despite these widely known community concerns it appears that Hackney not only failed to require an independent environmental assessment of the scheme's impact, and particularly its overshadowing, but also failed to progress the application to a Committee decision.

The nursery schools outdoor space is presently used for a range of play and learning activities

Hackney's dereliction of duty has only come to light as a result of months of persistent enquiries by our local community champion, Judith Watt, who brought the earlier judicial review. Finally, on 27 September, the Council issued an explanatory letter to objectors but it wrongly stated that the developer had appealed because Hackney had refused the planning application. On 29 September Hackney issued a second letter acknowledging that the appeal was in fact due to Hackney's failure to decide the application.  (Given Hackney's planning officer was to recommend the grant of planning permission, is it possible that a political decision was made to let the developer appeal to the Planning Inspectorate rather than take the controversial decision itself Ed.)

Judith Watt at the High Court which overturned Hackney's previous grant of planning permission

Hackney's planning case officer recently advised that the fact that the School's open space is an asset of community value "is not a material planning consideration". This advice has now been corrected by the Council's Head of Planning who has stated "The designation of the site as an Assets of Community Value is a material consideration." It is understood that Hackney intend to make representations to the Inspector setting out the grounds on which it would have refused the application (Let’s hope Hackney don't miss their 11th November deadline! Ed)

If the new planning application is granted future generations of toddlers will be left in the dark

Members of the community have until only this Thursday  28th October to make written objections to the Planning Inspectorate. Here's one by Judith Watt which you may find helpful. To object, go to , insert reference number 3274827 and state why you object to the impact to the development proceeding. The extensive overshadowing, and damage to our community's asset, are both relevant grounds for objection.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Hackney Council is consulting on redeveloping Dalston. Have your say.

Hackney Council is now consulting on its proposed Dalston Plan for encouraging development of 600 new homes and 14,000sqm of shops offices and workspaces across 10 local sites. This on the basis that " vital to ensure the future success of the area". You can read the full plan here, a summary here and how to make your views known here. The public consultation closes on 1st October 2021

The Council's map of Dalston's development "opportunity" sites

The consultation is not asking the public whether, but how the sites should be re-developed. The Dalston Plan gushes with aspirational ideas of how careful redevelopment could protect the areas character and diversity and provide community benefit for locals. In the past similar aspirations have been routinely overlooked -  major developments have produced an absence of socially rented accommodation, a paucity of new public amenities for children and green space, the loss of affordable workspaces and cultural landmarks,  overshadowing of open spaces and homes and a rash of chain stores. Will the policies in this new Dalston Plan safeguard better outcomes? Are the policies worded strongly enough? Here are some clues.

Ridley Road market
Ridley Road street market and shops are the economic and cultural heart of Dalston. They attract about 70% of Dalston's shoppers to the area, provide local employment and, for many, are a vital source of affordable goods, fresh produce and of social and cultural interaction. 

"Save Ridley road"campaigners - one of a series of portraits by Dalston photographer Tamara Stoll

Whilst promising to "protect" the market and improve pedestrian circulation, Hackney has designated all of the privately owned buildings on the north side of Ridley Road market as opportunity sites for "infill" redevelopment - developing existing  buildings by up to 5 storeys, extending ground floors out to the pavement line and a new block of 27 flats at the eastern junction with St Marks Rise (That site had been identified as a potential public open space in the previous 2013 Plan. Ed.)

Ridley Road illustrating the proposed block of 27 flats on the corner of St Mark's Rise. 

Such development will be hugely disruptive for the market's shopkeepers and stallholders, reduce space for stalls and circulation for shoppers and sterilise its character.  In addition the Council proposes to  further restrict vehicles using Ridley Road, to plant street trees there and to green over a useful means of access for traders deliveries in Colvestone Crescent ( to create a so called "21st Century Street".  It's already gated 24/7 & the Kingsland Road entrance has also been closed to traders by the security bollards. Ed.) Many stallholders are dependent on using their vans since the Birkbeck Road food cold store was demolished many years ago and never replaced. 

Watch the short film "Ridely Road 2020 - a market under threat" It highlights some of the problems which redevelopment of the market street gives rise to.

Hackney also promises a crackdown on alleged crime and ante-social behaviour in the market. (This was the reason Hackney gave for originally supporting eviction of all the traders from the Shopping Village in 2018 Ed.). 

Birkbeck Mews

The Council owned Birkbeck Road scheme

Also affecting Ridley Road market, the Council propose redevelopment of its own site in Birkbeck Mews for up to 5 storeys to include reprovision of 1,000sqm of existing Ridely Road market traders storage, waste processing and public toilets plus a Market's Office, commercial uses and 11 new flats. (Will those flats be for social rent, or be sold to fund the scheme? How will those essential market amenities, and market access for traders along Birkbeck Mews, be provided during the re-development? Ed)

Kingsland Shopping Centre Site
For years Hackney have been awaiting a comprehensive housing led re-development of this major site to help meet its targets for new housing set by the GLA. The Dalston Plan, at page 120, identifies the site as appropriate for "taller buildings" with capacity for between 314 & 484 flats and up to 10,500m2 of commercial space and 670m2 community/amenity space plus some green open space and "yards".  Total redevelopment  including the Shopping Mall is presently constrained by Sainsbury's long lease and the Kingsland High Street entrance being "safeguarded" for possible development of Crossrail II. ( Presently in the long grass again, and Crossrail I being way over budget and incomplete. Ed.) 

This is Hackney's illustration of the Kingsland Shopping Centre site's total redevelopment potential. Notice how, along its south east boundary, the Eastern Curve public pathway would become a canyon between the existing and the proposed new tall buildings

Following a number of discussions with Hackney, TfL and the GLA, Criterion Capital, which owns the whole site, has published its outline plans to redevelop the Matalan building and car park. The Dalston Plan identifies the northern part of the site, alongside the overground railway line, as more sensitive to tall buildings, due to the possibility of overshadowing Ridely Road market.  

This Criterion sketch of a northern 12 storey residential block by the railway suggests blocks elsewhere will be taller.

Criterion emphasise that a new open space with some green surfaces, called Martel Place, will be provided but this, it acknowledges, will be overshadowed by the existing Kinetica Tower. Other open spaces may also be overshadowed by the tall buildings which loom over from the south side of the site.   (And where is the public playground for older kids we were promised in the 2013 Plan? Ed.)

The designs presented by Criterion last July appear to set the new blocks further back from the eastern curve which may mitigate the overshadowing of the new open spaces and residential blocks planned. 

This Criterion sketch  illustrates the possible footprints of four new blocks with retail commercial and open spaces at ground floor,  26 small "makers" workspaces on the 1st floor and residential floors above them. 

The Dalston Plan refers to building up to 2,000 new homes locally over the next 15 years. It recognises that there is a severe shortage of socially rented and family size accommodation and that most locals have been priced out. It proposes that 50% of new homes should be "genuinely affordable" of which 70% will be for social rent (These policies for "affordable" homes were routinely ignored in previous schemes. See here here and here Ed.).

 Criterion's development is the biggest locally since Dalston Square and has previously referred to all new flats being for rent (ie a "Build to Rent" scheme). Its recent presentation states "While housing numbers and tenures are not yet finalised, social housing will be included in the scheme. Exact numbers will depend on viability, and we are open to Hackney Council purchasing these units." 

Eastern Curve Garden
After a 10 year community campaign the Council has finally abandoned its long held vision of turning the Garden into a hard surfaced public thoroughfare lined with shops (Hurrah! Well done Dalston campaigners!! 😊💕Ed). The Dalston Plan says it will be "protected" as a public "enclosed green space" and it is now recognised as a "key element when producing plans for development adjacent to it, ensuring it retains sufficient privacy and sunlight".

The northern part of the Garden is on Criterion's land but its proposals for redevelopment of the Kingsland Shopping centre do not impinge on the Garden - indeed it claims to emulate it by providing complimentary new green spaces 

The Dalston Plan also refers to the Thames House development, lining the Garden's southern boundary, as "existing building stock" whereas the approved development of up to 9 storeys has never commenced and the planning permission granted on 6 June 2018 is believed to have expired.

The proposed 2-9 storeyThames House development would have robbed the Garden of much of its sunlight  & privacy 

 What "sufficient privacy and sunlight" means for the Garden will be back in contention again when a new scheme for the Thames House site  is proposed. 

 Dalston Kingsland station 

The Dalston Plan illustrates potential major development of Kingsland Station to improve accessibility ( The long awaited lifts? Ed) with a Slab over the railway cutting to support more retail and 3 to 5 storeys of up to 49 flats. ( How will the Slab be paid for? By the lack of "genuinely affordable" housing, no doubt. Ed

Other opportunity development sites
This post highlights only 5 of the 10 potential redevelopment sites identified by Hackney. Others include : 
130 Kingsland High Street (Argos in Sandringham Rd - 3 to 5 storeys of retail plus up to 17 flats);
Stamford Works ( Gillette Square -  a mix of commercial cultural and community uses); 
36-42 Kingsland High Street (McDonalds - 3-5 storeys of retail plus up to 23 flats); 
Ashwin Street ( sites on its east and west side - 3 to 5 storeys for commercial and up to 17 flats) and
Former CLR James Library (ground floor community uses plus up to 17 flats). 
Bear in mind that although up to 5 storeys is deemed generally acceptable in Dalston, the exception being the  Kingsland Shopping Centre,  previous developments have often exceeded the guideline heights.

Traffic, cycling and walking
The Dalston Plan recognises that Kingsland High Street and Dalston Lane are heavily congested ( More so, despite the pandemic, since implementing the Low Traffic Neighbourhood local road closures. Ed).  It proposes new and improved pedestrian crossings, cycle infrastructure ( along Sandringham Rd and linking up with cycle Super Highway1 at Boleyn Rd) and that the Shopping Centre redevelopment could provide more accessible pleasant east/west routes for walkers and cyclists. ( I hope that will not be space "shared" with cyclists which is hazardous for children, elderly and disabled pedestrians. Ed.)

A further reference is made in the Dalston Plan to ensuring that new developments cater for "flexibility of (commercial) uses" to ensure "vibrancy and vitality in Dalston High Street" ( Oops...I've never heard of Dalston High Street! Ed)  

Can you influence Dalston's future development?

Do you think the Council's draft Dalston Plan guidelines amount to "regeneration"? Is the redevelopment described "vital to ensure the future success of the area"? Or will it cleanse Dalston of its character, vibrancy, diversity and sustainability? The Save Ridely Road and Morning Lane People's Space campaigners have described the plans as "gentrification in action"You can read the full plan here, a summary here and how to make your views known here. The public consultation closes on 1st October 2021  

Monday, 9 August 2021

Dalston's Colvestone Primary School nursery's playground declared an Asset of Community Value

Colvestone Primary School nursery's playground has been designated as an Asset of Community Value by Hackney Council. The decision last Friday 6 August follows a nomination by a group of local residents, the Friends of Ridley Road, last June. 

The Council's formal decision recognises that the uses made of the land, as an outdoor playground and learning space, benefit the social well being or social interests of the local community, such that the land is an asset of community value.

This is the nursery's walled playground, and the development site next door to the south ( left of picture)  

There has been a long-running battle by the local community to protect the toddler's playground for public benefit. It kicked off in 2015 when a planning application was granted to build a three-storey block of flats on an adjoining site, which had been sold off by the Council many years earlier.  The development would have extended across the playground's southern boundary, blighting the children's outlook and much of their direct sunlight.

That application was overturned on a judicial review, brought by local resident Judith Watt,  when the High Court found that the Planning Committee had been misled by the developer's report on the extent of overshadowing which the development would cause. 

Now there is a new planning application, also for a three storey development, which has been made to the Council by the site's new owners Nice Properties and Management Ltd. It is expected to be determined shortly. Numerous objections have been lodged by members of the local community. You can read about the history and objections here. 

The new development plans include a featureless wall of about 9.5metres backing onto the playground and blocking out the sunshine, views & sky  

Designating land as an Asset of Community Value (ACV) can help protect it from being blighted by inappropriate development. Bill Parry-Davies, who made the application on behalf of Friends of Ridley Road said "Social well being and community interest are increasingly overlooked when decisions affecting valuable development land are made.  But with decisions affecting an ACV, any loss or damage to the community  asset requires separate and proper consideration  -  examples could include refusing a planning application if the harm to the asset outweighed the other planning policies which a development would comply with or whether the community uses were protected in a decision to sell educational land for private development, as Hackney has done in the past."  ( Although the school and the playground are both owned by the Council, the playground is held separately from the school, Ed.)
Locals are urged to make, and update, objections to the development application You can now also identify and object to any damage you consider would be done to the community's social interests and well being if the development were to be given permission.

You can search for and find  the planning application documents on the Council's web site  under reference  2020/3496. You can also comment on the application by email to putting 2020/3496 in the subject line.

Colvestone School's playground is the second site on Ridely Road to be declared an asset of community value. The Ridley Road Shopping Village nomination by #SaveRidleyRoad was accepted by the Council in December 2019  The applications reflect increasing community concerns that the area is being targeted for developments which harm the community's interests and social well being. 

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Colvestone Primary School's nightmare is back as developers return

A new planning application has been made for re-development of a Ridley Road site which will dominate and overshadoColvestone Primary School nursery outdoor play/learning space and blight the Grade II Listed school and its setting

Dalston's "Save Our Sunlight" campaigners celebrate defeating the previous planning application 

The site has had a controversial history. After a long battle through the Planning Court in 2016 the Dalston community, lead by local campaigner Judith Watt, finally defeated an earlier development scheme which would also have blighted Colvestone Primary School. The developer/architects had presented a misleading overshadowing report to the Council's Planning Committee and Hackney spent about £100K (of our money Ed.) trying to defend its grant of planning permission.  But, although that scheme was buried, some development potential of the site remained. A new planning application for redevelopment has now reared its ugly head.

The vacant site bordering the school was auctioned in 2018, by its owner Zoe Chan, with a guide price of £180K. Hackney Council instructed its officers to attend and bid subject to a budget cap of £200K. Nice Properties Ltd., owned by Ann and Shu Tang, made a bid of £200K, which the Council had no authority to exceed, and so they acquired the site.The new owners now want to redevelop it.

This image shows the Nursery Schools outdoor play/learning space and the vacant triangular site adjoining to the south. The image below shows the proposed rear wall of the planned new development which will overbear and overshadow the Nursery's open space

The image below shows the scale of the previous scheme. The impact on the Nursery of the new scheme's 9 metre high rear will not be very different. 

The developer's application does not record any concern expressed by Hackney's planners regarding the scale of the new development and the developers argue that because the Council planners recommended approval of the previous building then it should do so again now

The developer's architects say that, to meet child safeguarding concerns ( overlooking) the rear wall of the second floor terrace facing the school will be built using perforate roof tiles "eliminating any possibilities of [occupants] overlooking to the playground, at the same time allow more sunlight to reach the playground of the school. ."  

How sunlight can pass through the tiles and reach the playground level, which they say can not be seen by residents looking through those same tiles, remains a mystery. A
n independent sunlight expert has questioned the accuracy of the model from which the developer's overshadowing predictions are derived.  Hackney must require the developer to disclose its modelling for independent analysis.

This image is of the overshadowing caused by the previous scheme. The new schemes impact will not be much different. The developer has failed to any provide 'shadow plots' which illustrate the extent of overshadowing year round.

The developer states that the "British Research Establishment ( BRE) have an objective overshadowing test... that at least 50% of open space should receive at least 2 hours of direct sunlight on 21 March" and that  "The proposed design meets the recommendations set out in the BRE Guide",  In fact, the BRE Guide is a guide for quantifying the direct sunlight on open space, not a test of its adequacy  -  what may be fine for a car park is obviously inadequate for a toddler's outdoor play/learning space.

The new building's appearance when  viewed from the south west

The developer says its building will create a new "gateway" to the Conservation Area (We already have a fine gateway - our single-storey Grade II listed Colvestone School. Ed.) and that it could "become over time a local modest landmark". ( Indeed future generations of children will point it out as the blight on their early years. Ed

The new building's appearance when viewed from the west

Whether you like the planned building's appearance or not, a further question concerns its impact on the historic built environment. The new building will partially obstruct the view of the Grade II Listed Colvestone Primary School when seen from the west and from the main entrance to Ridley Road - which is identified as an important view of the buildings within the St Marks Conservation Area of which the school is its western gateway and its earliest surviving building. 

Then there is the issue of the construction noise and disruption to adjacent school children, market traders and local businesses, and to the Council's plans for the future improvement of the market - including creating seating, greenery and better circulation. The development could take up to12 months and the site has no turning circle and very limited vehicular access for which construction lorries will be competing with market traders and local residents.

You can search for and find  the planning application documents on the Council's web site  under reference  2020/3496 and make comments on line. You can also comment on the application by email to putting 2020/3496 in the subject line.

You may find it helpful to read other peoples objections here. (Unlike many other Councils, Hackney does not yet publish any of the planning objections which it receives. Ed.)



Friday, 16 October 2020

Don't miss out! Ridley Road 2020: Outdoor Film Screening and Planning Objection Workshop.


Join friends of #SaveRidleyRoad from 6:30pm Thursday, 22 October 2020 at the Eastern Curve Garden for a screening of "Ridley Road 2020: A Street Market Under Threat" - a moving half-hour documentary depicting the current threats to Ridley Road market and the community campaign to defend it from damaging gentrification.

Featuring many voices of Ridley Road, from traders and shoppers to community campaigners and Council representatives, the film brings the market to life and shows the unity that makes it what it is.

The outdoor film screening will start at 19:00. 

Afterwards there will be help available with how to write an objection to the planning application for re-development of the Ridley Road Shopping Village, and a Q&A with the filmmaker and others.

Hand-sanitiser will be provided, but please bring a mask.

IT'S CRUNCH TIME FOR THE RIDLEY ROAD SHOPPING VILLAGE. The developer's latest plans are available for public comment until 1 November. We need everyone to write an objection. You can find out how to write yours at

It only takes five minutes, but the heritage and future of Ridley Road is at stake. 

Hackney Council's Local Plan 2033 designates the whole of Ridley Road north side as a "development opportunity".

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Last chance to save the Ridley Road Shopping Village - an asset of community value

Hackney has formally advertised the planning application for redevelopment of Ridley Road Shopping Village - but it failed to give the 21 days notice legally required for public consultation. It has now extended the time.You can comment on-line here until 1st November or send comments by email to  quoting the planning reference 2017/2897 and the address 51-63 Ridley Road London E8 2NP.  The Council must still consider all comments emailed before the Planning Committee meeting which is presently expected in November. 

If it helps, you can read our objections here

The re-development proposals, by an off-shore developer based in the British Virgin Islands tax haven, has attracted controversy since the outset

An ITV news report from November 2018

The planning application was amended on 27 November 2019 and would, in summary, now involve:

  • the loss of 39 of the 60 units for small independent traders on the ground floor, with space lost being used to service the proposed offices and flats on the upper floors
  • the loss of 50% of the basement's market storage, with the remainder to be offices
  • conversion of the 2 upper floors to "high standard" offices with only 10% to be affordable ( At 80% of market rate - few of the 60 artists presently in occupation could  afford what's "affordable"! Ed.)
  • a new 3rd storey for 1x2-bed and 4x3-bed "very high standard" luxury flats.
  • landscaping, instead of extending the building onto, its forecourt's open space.  

The site had changed hands for £4.5million just 12 months before the developer, Larochette Real Estate Inc, acquired it. It paid £6.5million for the site and has recently filed an amended Viability Assessment claiming that it can not afford any contribution to affordable housing. (Why should it escape community planning obligations if it overpaid for the site? Ed.)

Following a nomination by the local community, last December Hackney declared  that the Shopping Village is an Asset of Community Value. It noted that the existing uses, including facilities for 60 small independent traders, the basement market traders' storage and the upper floors with studios for 60 artists and makers, "furthered the social well being and social interest of the local community". The redevelopment plans will substantially reduce those uses and thus substantially damage the community's interest.

This image is extracted from Hackney's adopted  Local Plan 2033 (LP33 page 227) showing its designation of Ridley Road's north side 

The planning application has been made in the context of Hackney declaring, in its recent officially  approved Local Plan 2033 ), that the whole of the north side of Ridley Road presents "infil development opportunities" (Also known locally as opportunities for gentrification, social cleansing and enrichment of  property speculators. Ed) . 

Hackney claims to be protecting the street market but has recently changed the market stallholders terms and conditions to enable trading licences to be revoked where land is required for development.  Those changes never went to a Council Committee for approval. Larochette's consultants advised that 28 stalls will have to be moved out of the way for at least 12 months when the redevelopment takes place. (That's about 1/4 of the market. Ed.) Other developers are lining up their applications.

Watch this 2 minute trailer of the new film "Ridley Road - a street market under threat". The full 30 minute film is shortly to be publicly released. Through interviews with local traders, residents and the Mayor of Hackney the film reveals the risks which the market's affordability, culture and  heritage, is facing and the community's battle to save it

If you value all that our local Ridley Road market offers, then object now to the development application. And if you want to support our market traders, shop there. ( Use it or lose it - it's much cheaper than the supermarkets.  Ed.) 

Sunday, 23 August 2020

"Ridley Road. Here to stay! Luxury flats. No Way!"

An appreciative gathering of local people attended the first public screening last Thursday of the new film "Ridley Road 2020 - a market under threat" . The film was projected outdoors onto the Shopping Village building which features in the film and is the subject of a controversial redevelopment application which has attracted hundreds of objections from the local community due to the loss of affordable space for up to 40 small independent shops, the loss of studios of 60 artists and the loss of 50% of storage for market stallholders. In their place will be upmarket offices and 5 luxury flats.

The screening was not-for-profit community event taking place on public space with advice to people attending, consistent with government guidelines, about avoiding pandemic risks. Although the Council had confirmed that no licence was required to show the film its Events Office,  which was said to be closed and unable to deal with any applications for advice or support, informed us  that "colleagues are increasingly concerned that you intend to go ahead and they would require confirmation that event will not be taking place at Ridley Road in the current circumstances." No grounds for seeking to ban the event were given and so we could see no basis for cancellation.

The event was also the occasion for the #SaveRidleyRoad team to launch its new manifesto for the market. Many attending the film show signed up in support.

Not to worry if you missed the screening. Watch this space, and check #SaveRidleyRoad on social media, because we are planning more screenings - indoor and outdoor - and we hope to see you there