Sunday 30 October 2016

Dalston's architectural legacy of Edwin Horne(1843-1915)

Your chance to tell Hackney what you think, about its proposed Dalston Lane (West) Conservation area extension, is to end on Monday 31 October. You can read what we have said to the Council here. You can make your comments to the Council online here.

We have discovered that Dalston has a special architectural legacy from the great Victorian architect Edwin Henry Horne who was employed to design the Reeves Artist's Colour Works factory (1868) where Arcola Theatre is based, V22's artists studios at the 10-14 Ashwin Street (1870), 5-9 Dalston Lane (1867) and probably the Railway Tavern (1868) at 11 Dalston Lane.  Edwin Horne later went on to design stations for the North London Railway in 1870 ( of which Camden Road is Grade II listed by Heritage England) and to design Grade II Listed St John's of Ealing in 1876.

We have also pointed out the Council's serious omission of failing to show the Eastern Curve Garden on the new Conservation Area Map as an area of "Important trees and green space" - despite it being the largest, most popular and most important green space in Dalston Town Centre. Do the Council still plan to concrete it over as part of a shopping circuit?

If you missed the Eastern Curve Garden's magnificent and magical show of over 500 carved pumpkin lanterns don't worry! You can still pop in and see the display, for this week only, after dusk 

Sunday 9 October 2016

If you love Dalston's character then now's your chance to say so

If you love Dalston's architectural and historic character you have until 31 October to make you views known. Hackney Council's is consulting on long awaited plans to extend the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area [DL(W)CA]. Extending the conservation area will give the Council planners wider control to ensure that changes to the local environment preserve and enhance the area's character  - for example changes affecting its buildings (by demolition or alteration), its public and private open spaces, its gardens and trees (which are affected by overshadowing), its road layouts and surfaces (which also affect air quality) and other important features in our environment.

This map shows Hackney's existing DL(W)CA outlined in blue and the proposed extension of it outlined in red. The extension includes many of the historic buildings and streets to the north and west. It highlights in red and yellow the buildings which are already 'listed' and, in pink, the buildings which it considers are of 'townscape merit' importance. It highlights in green 'important trees and green spaces'. 

Do you think anything has been missed out? Your views will count. You can make your comments using Hackney's consultation leaflet here or by making comments online hereWe hope you'll tell the Council if you support its proposals - but don't forget to also tell them about anything else which you think deserves protection and should be included. 

The Eastern Curve Garden  is not shown as an "important green space" on the Council's DL(W) CA map although the appraisal describes it as an "ever-changing community space, where plants, trees and grass contribute to a diverse ecology". Although the Garden's land, and the Peace Mural, will be within the extended DL(W)CA, the use of the Garden's land itself is presently planned by Hackney for re-development as a "shopping circuit" . 

The former CLR James library dates from 1957-9 and was designed by architects Burley and Moore. It is described as a "redevelopment site" ie one for demolition and redevelopment, and is one of the Dalston "Cultural Quarter" sites which Hackney plans to sell

Four locally listed Georgian properties, at Nos. 16-18 and 20-22 Dalston Lane, have survived re-development to date. They will be within the extended DL(W)CA  but are also part of the Dalston "Cultural Quarter" sites which Hackney plans to sell

For a fascinating account of  Dalston's historical development, and why certain buildings, places and views are considered of conservation value, you can read Hackney's appraisal of the proposed conservation area extension here researched and written by an independent heritage consultant, the erudite Dr Ann Robey. 

The last surviving Georgian houses of the Dalston Lane terrace, which the original DL(W)CA conservation area was designed to protect, are no longer shown as buildings of townscape merit on the Council's new DL(W)CA map. Hackney has already given permission to demolish everything and just rebuild  skin-deep facades in "heritage likeness" -  they describe it as a "genuine conservation led regeneration" ( Genuine? Ed.)

OPEN Dalston members have campaigned long and hard to preserve local character and identity. So much has already been lost to redevelopment.

Conservation Area status has not always prevented neglect and development vandalism but finally, it seems, the Council is recognising Dalston's unique value by extending the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area.  (Better late than never! Ed.)

Sunday 2 October 2016

Dalston's Bridget Riley op-art building unveiled (NOT)

OPEN Dalston readers will remember the outcry back in 2013 when Hackney gave planning permission for huge blocks containing 120 flats on the corner of Dalston Lane and Martell Place. Now the wraps are coming off as the new development nears completion. 

The community's objections in 2013 weren't just that only 15 of the 120 flats would be for affordable rent ( a derisory 12% when the target at the time was 50%), or that existing affordable workspace for 60 artists and two businesses would be lost, or that Hackney was selling  the developer our neighbouring green space which had been earmarked for a playground.

Without any local safe playground, Dalston's older kids are forced to play on the street and skateboard on the station's underused bus turnaround

There were 136 letters from objectors, who included our local Councillors, and a petition. Local residents, with their kids, attended the Planning Committee to object in person. All objectors agreed that that the blocks of 5-10 storeys amounted to overdevelopment of a site which had been designated for 4-6 storeys in the Dalston Area Action Plan. What had been described as a "corner site" was now claimed to be a "landmark site"
"It would form an inpenetrable cliff along the Eastern Curve" our Dalston Conservation Advisory Committee said "Its' sheer size will have an adverse impact on the neighbouring Conservation Areas."

The new blocks under construction. Although the ground floors are of conventional concrete construction, all the upper floors structures are made entirely from cross-laminated timber

At the meeting Planning Committee members' concerns about the overall size of the scheme were allayed when samples of the proposed facade cladding - multicoloured glass reinforced concrete panels - were passed around. The design and effect of the ornamental panels, the Committee were advised, would make the blocks appear smaller rather than overscale and monolithic. This advice was reinforced with a picture of  the artist Bridget Riley and of her brilliant op-art images. Planning permission was granted  

 "Ornament (pattern) becomes a pervasive surface condition, the variation of which here, are based on an intensity of pixellization" - Waugh Thistleton, Architects

But now the are wraps coming off  we can see that the new blocks aren't  faced with multicoloured glass panels at all.

The new blocks are faced with brick. And the blocks look huge, looming over Dalston Lane and the neighbouring Conservation Area 

Cross-laminated timber ( multiple layers of wood bonded with plastic resin) has been used to construct the blocks. It is said to be far more sustainable than building in concrete, which produces 1 tonne of CO2 for every 1 tonne of concrete. Plus the units are factory manufactured and delivered, like flat-pack IKEA boxes, for quick assembly on site. But these contruction savings don't seem to have made affordable rental flats more viable, with only 15 planned out of 120 flats (12%). Nor can cross-laminated timber, unlike solid timber, be recycled. This has led to some controversial exchanges with the Chair of Hackney's Planning Committee, Vincent Stops.

(Note: The original planning permission required Hackney to seek the views of the Hackney Design Review Panel regarding final external finishes, but this was not done when Hackney agreed to substitute brick finishes on the basis that “Drawing upon a warehouse and factory building typology…the brick is in keeping with the character of adjacent conservation areas” Ed.)