Thursday 24 January 2013

TfL withdraw plans for private gated community in Dalston

TfL has withdrawn its plannning application to build a private gated community in Dalston town centre. TfL's plans would have resulted in the almost entire enclosure of public railway land, above the East London line extension from Dalston Junction to Highbury and Islington, know as the Western Curve sites. 90% of the residential development would have comprised flats for private sale and all available green and amenity space would have been within the development from which the public would have been excluded.

TfLs proposed 8-storey block on 3-4 storey Kingsland High street on the northern part of the Western Curve site

OPEN Dalston has been in discussion with TfL's development partners, Taylor Wimpey, since April 2012 urging them to make provision for public green spaces as part of the scheme but TfL responded  that there was no room on its sites for any small public green spaces.

OPEN Dalston has been invited to discuss the scheme with London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, on 11 February when TfL's Head of Property is expected to be present. Our proposals will be published here in advance of that meeting and will include plans for new pedestrian routes and green "stepping stones" through the town centre and using modern technology to capture wasted heat from the railway tunnels to warm greenhouses above them.

TfL's controversial scheme has attracted considerable publicity included articles in the Evening Standard, Hackney Citizen and this from our local Hackney Gazette  

Hackney Council is required to resolve planning applications within particular timescales set by central government. We requested that TfL agree to defer its application until after it's boss, London's Mayor Boris Johnson, had considered OPEN Dalston's proposals. Hackney is understood to also have serious concerns about the design of TfL's scheme. This week TfL has written to Hackney to request that its application be withrawn and this has now been formally recorded on Hackney website.

Sunday 13 January 2013

Dalston RIP? It's so not over!

"Dalston RIP" was the title of Alex Rayner's playful piece about Dalston in the Evening Standard Magazine last Friday. He picks up the story around 2009 with the arrival of the trending fashionistas when they, and later Italian Vogue, discovered Dalston. He describes the second wave - their followers and barflies. Finally he settles on Dalston's Gentrification. Has Dalston finally hit estate agents' G-Spot? "Are reports of Dalston's demise premature?" he asks teasingly. Have rising house prices "killed Dalston or just made it stronger?"

Gentrification, in the traditional sense, started in Dalston two and more decades ago. Colonisation by the aspiring middle class, restoration of its Victorian villas, the slow and incremental burnishing of its tarnished elegance and reputation. Occupation of Dalston's redundant factories and warehouses as cheap studio space by artists, designers and musicians had turned Dalston into a vibrant hub of creative industries.

But traditional gentrification is not what we have been witnessing in Dalston recently. It is the outcome of a newer formula for urban renewal."Regeneration". Top down, publically financed corportate solutions, monopoly "inward investment", boxes to be ticked, performance targets to be achieved, consultants to be paid, units to be built, 20% returns on investment to be made. Their vision from above, from afar, about "what's good for Dalston". Not forgetting what's good for them. Demolition and replacement rather than renewal and re-use. Monoculture. Loss of diversity. Mediated by politicians and the developers' PR companies who often employ them.

Dalston RIP? Despite "Regeneration" Dalston is very much alive. Just look at the vibrancy of our local economy in this age of austerity - Ridley Road market, social enterprises, Vortex Jazz, Cafe Oto, Eastern Curve Garden, Arcola Theatre, Passing Clouds, Rio Cinema, our art galleries,  our independent businesses,  retailers, cafes and coffee shops, to name but a few. These are examples of bottom up, sustainable micro-regeneration. The list keeps growing.

Dalston is not only alive, we're still kicking. We're fighting for a better deal for our community. A proper say in our and our children's future. More public green space, more affordable housing and more protection of our local heritage. We're fighting to keep our local character and identity.

Thursday 3 January 2013

London Mayor to meet Dalston campaigners over ‘gated community’ fears

Article reprinted from Hackney Citizen

Boris Johnson to address local concerns over eight storey ‘gated’ development proposals
Kingsland High Street Dalston
Kingsland High Street Dalston. Photograph: Eoin O'Donnell
Mayor Boris Johnson has agreed to meet residents fighting a proposal for  eight-storey ‘gated community’ on Kingsland Road just north of Dalston Junction railway station.
The plans run contrary to council guidelines of four to six storeys for the site, which is owned by Transport for London (TfL) and located directly above Dalston Junction’s reinstated train tunnels.
Mayor Johnson committed to meet campaigners after local resident and Conservative London Assembly member, Andrew Boff, urged that previous “crazy schemes” in the area were not repeated.
“I don’t think TfL really care about Dalston,” he said. “The last time TfL got involved in Dalston we ended up demolishing heritage buildings to erect the windswept Dalston Square and building a bus stop that cost £63m where only one bus ever stops.”
As well as enclosing and reducing light to listed buildings to below British standards, the development will have minimal affordable housing and no public green space in an area of London that is in need of both, according to the campaign group OPEN Dalston.
The group’s founder, Bill Parry-Davies, has queried the benefit to the public of proposals in light of TfL’s status as a public body that acquired the sites at the public’s expense. He has also pointed out that TfL received a subsidy from Hackney Council for the development of over £1.3million.
Mr Parry-Davies said the proposal for a major gated community in Dalston is unprecedented and that “for TfL and Hackney to spend public money on a private development with so little public benefit is a slap in the face for Dalston”.