Wednesday, 1 February 2006

What a Carve Up!

From The Eel Magazine

"On Dalston Lane time itself seems to lie around in broken fragments..."
Patrick Wright A Journey Through Ruins

In a renewed bid to 'regenerate' Dalston plans were last year unveiled by the London Development Agency for the area just south of Dalston Junction. The development, as part of the Dalston Area Action Plan, will include housing, retail units and a new library. The development is tied in with the opening of East London Line there in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012.

Local campaigners OPEN, while welcoming the arrival of the long-overdue Underground station, say that the proposals will have a massive impact on the environment for decades to come. It would mean the destruction of 4-14 Dalston Lane including the Dalston Theatre/4 Aces club and other historic buildings.

"We have been watching a continuing process of the municipal vandalism of our local heritage and economy and the disregard of our community's views" says OPEN spokesman Bill Parry-Davies "This group of buildings, like many others at risk nationally, uniquely reflects local architectural, cultural and social history and lends great character to the area."

This follows on from what many people consider the deliberate running down (not to mention mysterious fires) of late Georgian terraces at 48-76 Dalston Lane and their subsequent cut-price sale to an off shore company. A public meeting last year was told that Nelson Bakewell sold an entire parade of shops on Dalston Lane as a job-lot for almost half their total combined asking price to an overseas developer that already owns 10 properties in Broadway Market.

Public consultations regarding the proposed development took place last summer. Having attended one at CLR James library I came away none the wiser having failed to penetrate the labyrinth of jargon and officialese on display. And nowhere was there any mention of the demolition of the Theatre and neighbouring buildings.

Should there be a rush for development many are concerned that (much as in Broadway Market ) the area's rich mix of nationalities, classes and styles will be replaced by a another middle class ghetto as 'gentrification' starts to take effect. It's estimated that 50% of the new housing will be unaffordable for local people and a further 25% in the 'intermediate' price bracket. And will affordable rents for small local retailers be maintained or are they to be forced out as is happening in, yes, Broadway Market, and many other towns and cities?

On 20 December a High Court Judge ordered Hackney Council not to take any steps to demolish 4-14 Dalston Lane until a full hearing later on this year.

In the meantime, there are many people in the community who are calling for a greater transparency from our representatives at Hackney Council and they're asking who really stands to benefit from this development? Just what is "best value"? Best value for who?

Open Dalston is a not for profit organisation set up by local residents concerned for Dalston's future. Contact them at


The Dalston Theatre:

1886: Built as a circus: the National Hippodrome, remodelled in 1898 as a variety theatre seating just over 3,000 people.

1920: with the advent of the cinema age, building becomes the Dalston Picture House

1967: the entrance buildings on Dalston Lane become 'The Club Four Aces' host to internationally renowned black musicians.

1970s: Home to Count Shelly and other reggae Sound Systems.

1990s: merged with a club in the main auditorium to become the legendary drum and bass & Acid House club, The Labyrinth.


1 comment:

  1. Im a hackney girl born and bred, dalston lane is next to where our house was, and it was the picture house to my nan, the four aces club to my mum, and club labyrinth to me and my mates in the 90's. Its not surprising what is to become of it, as Hackney council have been responsible for this type of urban rape for years.


Please leave comments that will add to the debate! We will not publish comments which are abusive or repetitive.

If we do not publish your comment and you are unhappy, please email with your contact details.