Thursday 17 September 2009

Bad news for Dalston. Worse news for Barratt.

Bad News: The Dalston Square"regeneration project" has beaten other shortlisted projects to win the first ever, but already notorious, Ceausescu Golden Spoon Award. You can see more here

TfL's artist impression of the Dalston Square development - with further enhancements by a Dalston artist. Click on the image to enlarge it. The scheme is a public/private development by Hackney Council (which itself described the development as "austere"), the Greater London Authority and their private sector "partner" Barratt. It has involved demolition of historic buildings, environmental blight and massive public subsidy.

The Dalston Square development was always a strong favorite to bottom out the Ceausescu Award criteria for oppressive scale, bulldozed planning and architectural hype but it only just managed to see off fierce competition from the Peninsula Square development in Greenwich, the Aldgate Union Tower in Tower Hamlets and Newham’s Queen's Market development. Queens Market scooped the silver spoon award and the wooden spoon went to Waltham Forest Council’s Arcade site scheme. Unfortunately the handful of politicians and public officials responsible for the Dalston Square project were not present at the ceremony to receive the award or the further public appreciation for their efforts which they so richly deserve.

Worse news: for debt-laden Barratt, the national volume house builder, which is contracted to build the 20-storey towers of the Dalston Square development. Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has said that Barratt was "behind the curve" and now, say analysts at Investec, it could be described financially as "irreparably damaged".

The £40million concrete building slab spanning the soon to be reopened Dalston Junction overground station. The claims that Barratt are to build green and eco towers on The Slab has a hollow ring when the financial and carbon cost of The Slab are considered.

Investec's unfortunate comment comes on the eve of Barratt's anticipated £500million cash call for deperately needed investment and just when it is due to start building more tower blocks on The Slab, the second half of the Dalston Square scheme, this October. Barratt's difficulties could explain the mystery regarding its section 106 contributions which is said to put at risk Hackney Council's new library planned for the Dalston Square scheme

'The worship of Mammon' by Evelyn de Morgan 1909, updated by 2009

Barratt, like other housebuilders, has been hit very hard by the continuing credit freeze despite the assistance from government bail-outs and an enticing marketing campaign locally. It has sought to maintain cash flow by a "buy to let" campaign marketing Dalston Square in Singapore which has, reportedly, seen 23 of the flats "snapped up". Barratt, with other national housebuilders, is also reported to have been seeking to maintain house prices by "drip feeding" its new properties into the market.

PS Is that a rumour of a takeover we can hear snapping at Barratt's heels?