Friday 22 February 2013

Hackney to sell off Dalston playground.

Public green land owned by the Council is to be sold as part of a major private development in Dalston. 120 flats, in 5 to 10 storey blocks, are to be built on land which had been earmarked as a priority by the Council for a public children's playground.

Artist's impression of the scheme from the Matalan/Sainsbury's car park which has since been lined with 8 - 14 storey towers

The recently approved Dalston Area Action Plan (DAAP) specified that the public playground would be specially landscaped and designed as an "active youth space" for kids of twelve years and over. But there's no sign of that in the development scheme proposed. The GLA London Planners have even suggested that a designated 'semi-private courtyard' should be entirely privatised to give residents in the flats "a sense of ownership". The development will be 87% privately owned. 

Artist's impression from Dalston Lane railway bridge with blocks rising from five to ten stories.

We are told that the Council's Planning Department has already decided  to recommend the scheme although it departs radically from its own DAAP guidelines for the site in terms of building height, housing density, priority employment uses and affordable housing.

The development land's value will increase very significantly if it all goes according to the landowner's plan. The Council will be quids in too if it grants planning permission because it also owns part of the land ! In that case, sadly, Dalston kids would lose out. ( Not to mention the 60 odd artist's who will lose their affordable studios. Ed)

You can comment on the official plan here
You can sign the dissenter's petition here

(PS  Play Space is so lacking in Dalston that the authorities 'big idea' now is "Play Streets." Ed)

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Linking Dalston's green spaces

On 11 February OPEN Dalston attended a meeting with the GLA's  Deputy Mayor for Transport and senior commercial  development officers of Transport for London. At the meeting we presented some alternative proposals to the Western Curve gated community for which TfL had applied to Hackney for planning permission (and which it has since withdrawn). You can read a summary of one of our proposals, "Linking Dalston's green spaces".

TfL, and its development partners Taylor Wimpey, had come to Dalston with a "pre-formed" plan and it responded to public consultation with cosmetic changes only. Our objections to TfL's plan are not confined to the lack of green spaces and improvements to 'public realm'. We also consider that the scheme's exclusive 'gated community', the lack of adequate affordable and family housing, and the damage to local heritage and character require changes.

This drawing illustrates the potential for a green route through Dalston town centre with little impact on TfLs current development proposals

In our "Linking Dalston's green spaces" presentation you will find an analysis of Dalston's development context, a detailed evidence base, our objections to TfLs scheme and some innovative ideas for greening over TfL's Overground railway tunnels.

TfL have agreed to consider and evaluate our proposals and a further meeting with them is being arranged.

We invite you to comment on "Linking Dalston's green spaces" on this blog or by sending an email to

Sunday 17 February 2013

67A-76 Dalston Lane - amended developmennt application to be decided

These are the images for the renewed planning application to re-develop 67A - 76 Dalston Lane - the site on the corner of Dalston Lane and Martel Place E8 by the mini-roundabout which leads to the Kingsland Shopping Centre/Matalan's rear car park. This is a major strategic development which requires the Greater London Authority's, as well as Hackney Council's, approval. Unusually the developer has itself, for some reason, undertaken no public consultation and few people locally seem to know about it.

Artist's impression seen from the bridge over the North London Overground line on Dalston Lane

The Dalston Area Action Plan (DAAP) identifies the site as suitable for 4-6 storeys but Council planners now apparently consider that the DAAP is "open to interpretation" and are rumoured to be recommending approval of a frontage bloc of 5 storeys rising to 7 and 10 storeys further back.

The developer proposes 121 flats of which 70% will be one and two bedrooms. The total 'affordable' flats in the amended scheme has been reduced from 44 to 24 flats - that is 18% by habitable rooms, although Council and GLA policies targets seek to achieve 50% 'affordable' flats in new developments. 

It is expected that the majority of flats will be bought by investors and that, as elsewhere, many will simply be left empty to await house price rises.

Artist's impression seen from the shopping centre car park 

The site is part of Dalston's "designated Priority Employment Area (PEA), where employment generating floorspace (B1) will be the preferred uses.” The developer claims that the 50 desk spaces proposed will result in a net employment gain but overlooks the total loss of all affordable studios used by some 60 or more artists who will be displaced  from the site and an overall reduction of at least 25% of the existing employment area.

Artists impression of the view from the listed German Hospital and Lutheran Church in Ritson Road, within the Graham Road and Mapledene Conservation Area on the east side of Dalston Lane.

The development will dominate the residential buildings of the Conservation Area opposite the site and, with other tall buildings, will contribute to the "cliff" effect lining the Eastern Curve pedestrian route overlooking the Kingsland Shopping Centre car park.

You can view the planning application documents on-line here. It is not too late to send your comments by email here

You can also sign an on-line petition here opposing the development which local residents will present to the Council in due course