Friday 21 April 2017

Eastern Curve Garden new big bad neighbour - tell Hackney what you think before its too late.

Darkness will descend across Dalston's Eastern Curve Garden if Hackney grants planning permission for a 9 storey re-development of the neigbouring Thames House site, behind Dalston Lane's Premier Inn, at 4 Hartwell Street.

The two nine storey blocks will extend like a cliff along the Curve Garden's southern boundary and are predicted to obstruct most of its existing morning and afternoon sunlight. The designs have been under discussion for several years and Hackney's planners are now likely to recommend approval of the planning application. Although the Garden's sunny aspect will be permanently damaged, the developer will argue that, because 78% of the Garden will still receive at least 2 hours daily sunlight on average over the year, the Building Research Establishment (BRE) minimum sunlight guideline for open space is met.

Click this link to watch the video showing the overshadowing effect on the Garden before and after the development (shown as yellow) is built. It has been made by local architects based on the developer's own site modelling 

The development will exceed the Dalston Area Action Plan's maximum height and the blocks are stacked up so tightly into the site that, in the low rise block with family homes, 48% of the bedrooms and 25% of the living rooms fail to meet the BRE minimum guidelines for natural light. This indicates overdevelopment of the site. No sunlight report has been produced on the open spaces on the site itself which are also likely to be overshadowed, cold and damp.

In other respects Hackney have insisted that the development should meet policy requirements - for example the site is within the local employment priority area and 4,209sqm (51%) will be for office space (Although only 10% of it will be "affordable". Ed.) and, of the 39 new flats, 8 flats will be for "affordable" sale  and 12 for "affordable" rent ( But probably not affordable to local residents on average incomes. Ed.). The architects have also sought to respond to the extended conservation area by using decorative features like green glazed and stock brick cladding and decorative metal panels (But will those designs actually appear on the finished buildings? Ed.).

The  Garden is presently designated as a temporary amenity with future use of its land for a pedestrian "shopping circuit" along the Eastern Curve linking Dalston Lane with a planned redevelopment of Kingsland Shopping Centre.

This illustration shows how, by comprehensive planning with adjoining landowners, pedestrian movement within the area could be improved without the need to use the Garden land as a thoroughfare. 

The Thames House development, as presently designed, will add to the overshadowed gloom of the Eastern Curve where most of its extent has already been blighted by the cliff effect of the towers of Kinetica, Point One Apartments and Martel Place through which sunlight rarely penetrates.( The Eastern Curve is Hackney's planned new "green lung"  - mushroom farms anyone? Ed.)

The developer has acknowledged that in earlier consultation events, whilst welcoming the affordable housing, the key public concerns were the negative impact on the Eastern Curve Garden, the height and density of the scheme and the poor natural light to many flats. These concerns have not been mitigated by any significant changes to the design of the Thames House development

You can read OPEN's objections to the Thames House scheme here. You can make your views known to Hackney here. (Numbers count so even a short objection can make a difference. Ed.). You can see the planning application documents here. The public consultation officially closes on 26th April, so don't delay, although the planners must report all public comments received to Hackney's planning committee prior to it making a decision.

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Well done Dalston! Council rattled over Eastern Curve Garden plans

In the wake of hundreds of community objections, Hackney Council has announced that it has "clarified" its proposals for development of the Dalston Cultural Quarter. Hackney has also advised that the public consultation period has been extended from 17th until 30th April and that there will be a further public consultation before any developers' brief for its four Dalston sites is finalised. So well done Dalston for speaking up! (And thanks Hackney for listening! Ed).

Karina Townsend's short film "Fanfare for the Curved Garden" featuring last Sunday's performance with Jaime Lucy's "Rucksack Cinema" projections and Andy Diagram's trumpet soundscapes. Dalston's Cultural Quarter keeps regenerating itself! 

The first of Hackney's corrections relates to the Eastern Curve Garden. The Council had refused to consult locals about the future of the Garden, although it is included in development Site 3. It had stated "The Garden isn't included in the consultation". But now Hackney has shown the Garden on its consultation map and it states on line "the Council is open to exploring the potential to retain a community garden". This means that the Council will now actually consider the flood of representations that are being made urging Hackney to keep the Garden. So, if you haven't yet told Hackney what you think, do so before 30 April.

The second major correction relates to its misleading description of the heritage value of 10-16 Ashwin Street. It had previously stated "The frontage of Nos 10-16 Ashwin Street is of historical value whilst the blocks to the rear are of LOWER historical value". This gave the impression that demolition of the rear would not be significant. Hackney has now acknowledged that this contradicted the independent heritage advice it had received. It has now stated on line "the front and rear of No. 10 - 16 Ashwin Street is of HIGH historical value".

These developments don't necessarily mean that our Garden and heritage buildings will be saved. (But it's a good start! Ed.). It is still very important that people continue to make their views known. You can read OPEN Dalston's analysis and responses to Hackney's Cultural Quarter plans hereWe hope that these will help inform your views and responses to the Council. The public consultation now closes on 30th April.  You can tell the Council your views here   

Thursday 6 April 2017

Eastern Curve Garden's big bad neighbour is moving in. Overdevelopment blights Dalston's public space

When Hackney decided upon its blueprint for future development in Dalston (the "Dalston Area Action Plan") little consideration was given to the environmental impact on public space which building various 10 to 20 storey towers around the area could have. This, we were told, would be carefully scrutinised when the planning applications were decided.

Instead the issues were glossed over with the Council's vacuous marketing speak

But when the planning applications came to be made, and people objected to the canyon effects, the loss of sunlight and increased wind speeds, the developers complained that the Dalston Area Action plan "entitled" them to build and the planners, fearing appeals, granted them permission.

Hackney's own consultants warned of the environmental impacts when Dalston Square was planned but Hackney granted its "development partner", the GLA, permission despite public objections that it could resemble a sunless windswept canyon. Overall planned affordable housing was 12% ( the target was 50%) and  Hackney gave away its land for £millions undervalue to secure the deal

The TfL/Taylor Wimpey development on the east side of the Kingsland High Street, where once there were two storey buildings, now has 6 storeys. There are now afternoon and evening sunlight losses to Ashwin Street for much of the year, with the lower storeys of Reeves Artists' Colour Works reduced to below the standard for natural light. Sadly the view from the High Street of it, and of Shiloh Church, have also been obscured. Only 8% of the flats are for social rent and all available green space is enclosed within a gated community.

The development on the west, Boleyn Road, side exceeds the Area Action Plan policy on height and has blocked sunlight to the Grade II and locally listed High Street terrace so it, and even some of the new flats, are reduced to below minimum standards for natural light.

The 57East tower, which is now being marketed for overseas investors, will act like a lighthouse in reverse, stealing sunlight from public space and local homes, as well a generating unpleasant and sometimes hazardous wind speeds. What does it give back to Dalston - only 15% "affordable starter homes" and no lifts for the station.

Not even the needs of local children, for sunlight and quality outdoor space, were given adequate consideration when a block of private flats planned to overshadow Colvestone Nursery school playground was given planning permission. This was eventually overturned by the Planning Court despite Hackney's protestations.

Then there is the much trumpeted proposed new "public realm" - the planned Eastern Curve pedestrian route/shopping circuit. Here the Kinetica Tower, Point One Apartments and Martell Place towers have already created a continuous north facing cliff lining most of the route and daylight rarely penetrates onto it. ( This is Hackney's planned new "green lung"  - mushroom farms anyone? Ed.)

OPEN raised objections to the environmental blight which these overdeveloped schemes were predicted to cause. And now there is another scheme which will cast the remainder of the Eastern Curve further into almost permanent shade, including the part occupied by its neighbour, the Eastern Curve Garden.

As if the eastern Curve Garden's troubles weren't already enough, this 10 storey Thames House scheme, on Dalston Lane north side, will rise like a cliff right along the Garden's eastern and southern  boundary. It has been designed with little regard to the scale, use and needs of that public open space, whether used either as a Garden or as part of the proposed Eastern Curve pedestrian route. The developer will claim permission should be granted because its calculations show the Garden will still exceed the minimum sunlight guideline, which is a yearly average of 2 hours direct sunlight over 50% of its area. Even some of the new flats will be below standards for natural light.

We will shortly publish more information about the Thames House development and how, as part of the public consultation, you can tell Hackney what you think.