Sunday 25 October 2020

Colvestone Primary School's nightmare is back as developers return

A new planning application has been made for re-development of a Ridley Road site which will dominate and overshadoColvestone Primary School nursery outdoor play/learning space and blight the Grade II Listed school and its setting

Dalston's "Save Our Sunlight" campaigners celebrate defeating the previous planning application 

The site has had a controversial history. After a long battle through the Planning Court in 2016 the Dalston community, lead by local campaigner Judith Watt, finally defeated an earlier development scheme which would also have blighted Colvestone Primary School. The developer/architects had presented a misleading overshadowing report to the Council's Planning Committee and Hackney spent about £100K (of our money Ed.) trying to defend its grant of planning permission.  But, although that scheme was buried, some development potential of the site remained. A new planning application for redevelopment has now reared its ugly head.

The vacant site bordering the school was auctioned in 2018, by its owner Zoe Chan, with a guide price of £180K. Hackney Council instructed its officers to attend and bid subject to a budget cap of £200K. Nice Properties Ltd., owned by Ann and Shu Tang, made a bid of £200K, which the Council had no authority to exceed, and so they acquired the site.The new owners now want to redevelop it.

This image shows the Nursery Schools outdoor play/learning space and the vacant triangular site adjoining to the south. The image below shows the proposed rear wall of the planned new development which will overbear and overshadow the Nursery's open space

The image below shows the scale of the previous scheme. The impact on the Nursery of the new scheme's 9 metre high rear will not be very different. 

The developer's application does not record any concern expressed by Hackney's planners regarding the scale of the new development and the developers argue that because the Council planners recommended approval of the previous building then it should do so again now

The developer's architects say that, to meet child safeguarding concerns ( overlooking) the rear wall of the second floor terrace facing the school will be built using perforate roof tiles "eliminating any possibilities of [occupants] overlooking to the playground, at the same time allow more sunlight to reach the playground of the school. ."  

How sunlight can pass through the tiles and reach the playground level, which they say can not be seen by residents looking through those same tiles, remains a mystery. A
n independent sunlight expert has questioned the accuracy of the model from which the developer's overshadowing predictions are derived.  Hackney must require the developer to disclose its modelling for independent analysis.

This image is of the overshadowing caused by the previous scheme. The new schemes impact will not be much different. The developer has failed to any provide 'shadow plots' which illustrate the extent of overshadowing year round.

The developer states that the "British Research Establishment ( BRE) have an objective overshadowing test... that at least 50% of open space should receive at least 2 hours of direct sunlight on 21 March" and that  "The proposed design meets the recommendations set out in the BRE Guide",  In fact, the BRE Guide is a guide for quantifying the direct sunlight on open space, not a test of its adequacy  -  what may be fine for a car park is obviously inadequate for a toddler's outdoor play/learning space.

The new building's appearance when  viewed from the south west

The developer says its building will create a new "gateway" to the Conservation Area (We already have a fine gateway - our single-storey Grade II listed Colvestone School. Ed.) and that it could "become over time a local modest landmark". ( Indeed future generations of children will point it out as the blight on their early years. Ed

The new building's appearance when viewed from the west

Whether you like the planned building's appearance or not, a further question concerns its impact on the historic built environment. The new building will partially obstruct the view of the Grade II Listed Colvestone Primary School when seen from the west and from the main entrance to Ridley Road - which is identified as an important view of the buildings within the St Marks Conservation Area of which the school is its western gateway and its earliest surviving building. 

Then there is the issue of the construction noise and disruption to adjacent school children, market traders and local businesses, and to the Council's plans for the future improvement of the market - including creating seating, greenery and better circulation. The development could take up to12 months and the site has no turning circle and very limited vehicular access for which construction lorries will be competing with market traders and local residents.

You can search for and find  the planning application documents on the Council's web site  under reference  2020/3496 and make comments on line. You can also comment on the application by email to putting 2020/3496 in the subject line.

You may find it helpful to read other peoples objections here. (Unlike many other Councils, Hackney does not yet publish any of the planning objections which it receives. Ed.)



Friday 16 October 2020

Don't miss out! Ridley Road 2020: Outdoor Film Screening and Planning Objection Workshop.


Join friends of #SaveRidleyRoad from 6:30pm Thursday, 22 October 2020 at the Eastern Curve Garden for a screening of "Ridley Road 2020: A Street Market Under Threat" - a moving half-hour documentary depicting the current threats to Ridley Road market and the community campaign to defend it from damaging gentrification.

Featuring many voices of Ridley Road, from traders and shoppers to community campaigners and Council representatives, the film brings the market to life and shows the unity that makes it what it is.

The outdoor film screening will start at 19:00. 

Afterwards there will be help available with how to write an objection to the planning application for re-development of the Ridley Road Shopping Village, and a Q&A with the filmmaker and others.

Hand-sanitiser will be provided, but please bring a mask.

IT'S CRUNCH TIME FOR THE RIDLEY ROAD SHOPPING VILLAGE. The developer's latest plans are available for public comment until 1 November. We need everyone to write an objection. You can find out how to write yours at

It only takes five minutes, but the heritage and future of Ridley Road is at stake. 

Hackney Council's Local Plan 2033 designates the whole of Ridley Road north side as a "development opportunity".

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Last chance to save the Ridley Road Shopping Village - an asset of community value

Hackney has formally advertised the planning application for redevelopment of Ridley Road Shopping Village - but it failed to give the 21 days notice legally required for public consultation. It has now extended the time.You can comment on-line here until 1st November or send comments by email to  quoting the planning reference 2017/2897 and the address 51-63 Ridley Road London E8 2NP.  The Council must still consider all comments emailed before the Planning Committee meeting which is presently expected in November. 

If it helps, you can read our objections here

The re-development proposals, by an off-shore developer based in the British Virgin Islands tax haven, has attracted controversy since the outset

An ITV news report from November 2018

The planning application was amended on 27 November 2019 and would, in summary, now involve:

  • the loss of 39 of the 60 units for small independent traders on the ground floor, with space lost being used to service the proposed offices and flats on the upper floors
  • the loss of 50% of the basement's market storage, with the remainder to be offices
  • conversion of the 2 upper floors to "high standard" offices with only 10% to be affordable ( At 80% of market rate - few of the 60 artists presently in occupation could  afford what's "affordable"! Ed.)
  • a new 3rd storey for 1x2-bed and 4x3-bed "very high standard" luxury flats.
  • landscaping, instead of extending the building onto, its forecourt's open space.  

The site had changed hands for £4.5million just 12 months before the developer, Larochette Real Estate Inc, acquired it. It paid £6.5million for the site and has recently filed an amended Viability Assessment claiming that it can not afford any contribution to affordable housing. (Why should it escape community planning obligations if it overpaid for the site? Ed.)

Following a nomination by the local community, last December Hackney declared  that the Shopping Village is an Asset of Community Value. It noted that the existing uses, including facilities for 60 small independent traders, the basement market traders' storage and the upper floors with studios for 60 artists and makers, "furthered the social well being and social interest of the local community". The redevelopment plans will substantially reduce those uses and thus substantially damage the community's interest.

This image is extracted from Hackney's adopted  Local Plan 2033 (LP33 page 227) showing its designation of Ridley Road's north side 

The planning application has been made in the context of Hackney declaring, in its recent officially  approved Local Plan 2033 ), that the whole of the north side of Ridley Road presents "infil development opportunities" (Also known locally as opportunities for gentrification, social cleansing and enrichment of  property speculators. Ed) . 

Hackney claims to be protecting the street market but has recently changed the market stallholders terms and conditions to enable trading licences to be revoked where land is required for development.  Those changes never went to a Council Committee for approval. Larochette's consultants advised that 28 stalls will have to be moved out of the way for at least 12 months when the redevelopment takes place. (That's about 1/4 of the market. Ed.) Other developers are lining up their applications.

Watch this 2 minute trailer of the new film "Ridley Road - a street market under threat". The full 30 minute film is shortly to be publicly released. Through interviews with local traders, residents and the Mayor of Hackney the film reveals the risks which the market's affordability, culture and  heritage, is facing and the community's battle to save it

If you value all that our local Ridley Road market offers, then object now to the development application. And if you want to support our market traders, shop there. ( Use it or lose it - it's much cheaper than the supermarkets.  Ed.) 

Sunday 23 August 2020

"Ridley Road. Here to stay! Luxury flats. No Way!"

An appreciative gathering of local people attended the first public screening last Thursday of the new film "Ridley Road 2020 - a market under threat" . The film was projected outdoors onto the Shopping Village building which features in the film and is the subject of a controversial redevelopment application which has attracted hundreds of objections from the local community due to the loss of affordable space for up to 40 small independent shops, the loss of studios of 60 artists and the loss of 50% of storage for market stallholders. In their place will be upmarket offices and 5 luxury flats.

The screening was not-for-profit community event taking place on public space with advice to people attending, consistent with government guidelines, about avoiding pandemic risks. Although the Council had confirmed that no licence was required to show the film its Events Office,  which was said to be closed and unable to deal with any applications for advice or support, informed us  that "colleagues are increasingly concerned that you intend to go ahead and they would require confirmation that event will not be taking place at Ridley Road in the current circumstances." No grounds for seeking to ban the event were given and so we could see no basis for cancellation.

The event was also the occasion for the #SaveRidleyRoad team to launch its new manifesto for the market. Many attending the film show signed up in support.

Not to worry if you missed the screening. Watch this space, and check #SaveRidleyRoad on social media, because we are planning more screenings - indoor and outdoor - and we hope to see you there

Thursday 13 August 2020

Outdoor screening of "Ridley Road 2020 - a street market under threat"

There will be outdoor screenings of the new film  "Ridley Road 2020 - a street market under threat" on Thursday 20 August at the Ridley Road Shopping Village.The 30 minute film will be screened continuously from 8.30pm until 11pm, weather permitting. It's free,  just turn up, bring your mask, and meet some of the local people who have been involved with the #SaveRidleyRoad campaign.

Here's a 60 second trailer of "Ridley Road2020- a street market under threat"

The film features market traders, their Association, small business owners and artists who work in the Shopping Village which is slated for redevelopment. It even includes an interview with the Mayor of Hackney.  The film tells a local story but with a universal message. - how regeneration, development and bureaucracy can damage the local economy, diversity and culture.  

It you haven't been following the recent history of the threats to our street market you can read the backstory by following the links in these two posts from earlier this year - here  Latest plans for Ridley Road Shopping Village development and here  Hackney Council is "strangling the market with red tape"


Wednesday 29 July 2020

Dig deep Dalston! Help our Curve Garden reopen

Photo: Hollyhocks and Stik Sandra Keating for Dalston Curve Garden.

Dear friends of Dalston Curve Garden
Many thanks to all of you who have donated and supported our Crowdfunder to help reopen the Curve Garden. Together you have helped raise almost £70,000, since we launched the campaign on 2 July.

We have been bowled over by your generosity and the love you have shown for the Garden, not just through your donations, but in your creative offers of help, your sharing of our campaign among your networks and your many kind words of support and encouragement. It has really lifted our spirits!
The money that you have helped us raise so far, has enabled us to make good progress on the remodeling of the entrance area, paying for workers, materials and fittings. 

Our team of staff and volunteers, supported by contractors, have been making massive efforts to keep moving everything forward. We would dearly love to be able to reopen the Garden as soon as possible in August.
To do that and to be confident that once opened, we can ensure that the Garden can stay open for the rest of this year and beyond, we still urgently need to reach our Crowdfunder target of £100,000. You can help make this happen by making a donation here:

We understand how tough things can be for many people in these times of uncertainty, but rest assured that every donation, no matter how small, will help push forward the reopening of the Garden and then help ensure that we are able to stay open. You can also help by continuing to share our campaign among your networks. It does make a difference.

The Garden urgently needs to reach our £100,000 target in order to:
• Pay for extensive building works in our entrance area, so visitors can safely adhere to social distancing guidelines.
• Cover the impact of to the Garden's operation of the loss of 60% of our annual income, caused by having to close the Garden and our cafe, during our busiest season.
• Survive the year ahead with far less income, because of the requirement to limitt visitor numbers.

If everyone who has ever enjoyed spending time in the Garden, whether enjoying a pizza on a sunny evening, carving a pumpkin for our annual Lantern Festival, listening to live music, taking part in a free workshop or simply stepping away from the busy streets of Dalston to relax among the trees and flowers, donates a little towards our Crowdfunder, we will reach our target.
We look forward to being able to welcome you back here again soon!

With love and gratitude
from Marie and  Brian and all at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Marie and Brian with the BBC Gardeners Question Time crew  

Thursday 2 April 2020

Artists express fears over loss of Ridley Road's cultural heritage

Despite the lockdown, Ridley Road Market is still trading in essential affordable products. The stalls are widely space, packed out with delicious vitamin rich fresh produce plus you can get a free Vitamin D boost by shopping in the spring sunshine!

Meanwhile Hackney Council planners' decision on the application for redevelopment of the Ridley Road Shopping Village is getting closer. The Council's planning case officer recently commented "It may be on the next sub-committee agenda, so keep an eye out" . The next Committee meeting is on 13th May 

Although we have all been in lockdown, campaigners have continued with virtual Zoom meetings and working behind the scene to produce these two short films in which artists based in the Shopping Village talk about their work and the impact which redevelopment could have on Ridley Road and its cultural heritage.

We are saddened to report the passing of Douglas Sparks following coronavirus infection. Douglas was a member of the #SaveRidleyRoad campaign and a musician performing as U K Principal. When the restrictions are lifted we will share memories of those we have lost during the current pandemic.

Monday 10 February 2020

Hackney reveals nine key Dalston "opportunity sites" with development potential

Hackney has revealed nine key development sites in Dalston with potential for development in the forseeable future.They are  described as "opportunity sites". They appear on this map. Hackney is now consulting the public on its objectives which will shape their future development . 

The "opportunity sites" identified include some which have already been or remain in contention like Ridley Road and the  Ashwin Street "cultural quarter" (including the Eastern Curve Garden) and Gillette Square. Others include Birkbeck Mews where plans are now on hold; Kingsland Shopping Centre which  would be developed for flats, shops and as an underground station if Crossrail2 goes ahead; Kingsland overground station and the former CLR James library 

Hackney has released a summary and a detailed report on the community's views over a wide range of local issues - it has reviewed over 2,000 on-line comments made on its Dalston Conversation website. Hackney have now proposed some development objectives and it is seeking further public comments on those objectives which it says will inform its policies for the 15-year Dalston Plan.

This is a screen shot of Hackney's Dalston Conversation on-line comments map. Hackney reports that, including public meetings,  5,000 people took part in the consultation and over 2,000 people pinned comments to the online map 

10 issues have been identified to focus the public's views on Hackney's local development objectives . They ask us to comment on issues including green and open space, shopping and town centre, Ridley Road, transport and movement, buildings, work space and employment, housing, culture, evening and night time economy, inclusive and safe environment. You can make your comments either on-line here or by attending Hackney's events at CLR James Library on  Tuesday/Wednesday  11/12th February at 4pm – 8pm and at Eastern Curve Garden on Saturday 15 February, 12am – 3pm.

If you go on-line here to comment you will see the 10 issues boxes. When you click on one you can read what the community has previously said, what Hackney's borough wide Local Plan 2030 policy states, and you are then asked to indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with Hackney's development objectives. There is also very important space at the end of each to make general comments about omissions and reasons for disagreement.

When the 57 East tower was approved there was a policy for 50% affordable housing but only 15%  resulted and none for social renting.

You may find many of the "Objectives" seem positive, but consider them carefully. We have had positive planning policies before but these often seem to have been ignored when permission was granted. Can the objectives be tightened up? Based on your knowledge and experience of the area, is their wording strong enough to protect what we love locally and do they go far enough towards meeting the diverse needs of the whole community. Will there be something left in Dalston for everyone?

There was a  policy to preserve our local heritage but permission was granted to redevelop Hackney's Dalston Lane Georgian terraces with a scheme which resulted in their total demolition with no affordable housing at all

There was a policy to protect public space but buildings have been allowed which plunge public spaces, like the entire Eastern Curve walkway and our community garden, into shadow .

In terms of the objectives proposed, for example, one of the green space objectives is "to protect the Eastern Curve Garden" but the words "as an enclosed managed space" have been omitted. Without enclosure the open space could still become a public thoroughfare and lose its sense of intimacy, its secure environment for children and its financial sustainability. 

Another example : what would happen to the traders and artists who will face eviction by the Ridley Road Shopping Village office/residential redevelopment ? The objectives refer generally to "protecting and promoting" Dalston's market traders and Dalston's arts and culture - but they don't require that workspace of the type which would be lost in that redevelopment must be retained or replaced. How would that redevelopment sit with Hackney's decision that the local benefit of the existing uses make the site an asset of community value?

We encourage everyone who is invested in Dalston's future to spend some time considering the Council's plans and, using your own knowledge and experience of the area, suggest improvements to their development objectives.

Sunday 9 February 2020

Latest plans for Ridley Road Shopping Village development

Larochette, the owner based in the Virgin Islands tax haven, has submitted amended plans for the redevelopment of the Ridley Road Shopping Village.  The new plans will involve a substantial loss of space presently used for market storage and by numerous small independent traders and artists. Hackney recently decided the existing uses made the site an "asset of community value".

The present mix of uses comprises basement market storage, a ground floor indoor market for up to 60  small businesses, open amenity space on the forecourt and 2 upper floors of studios used by 60 artists. Since the original development plans dated April 2018 the site has been contested space and attracted controversy.

You can see the developers latest planning application documents dated 27.11.19 here.  You can comment and object on-line  until 16.02.20 or later by email to quoting the reference number 2017/2897. You can see OPEN Dalston's detailed description of the development, its impact and objections here.

The planning application was amended on 27 November and would, in summary, now involve:
- the loss of 39 of the 60 units for small independent traders, with space lost being used to service the proposed offices and flats
- the loss of 50% of the basement's market storage, with the remainder to be offices
- conversion of the 2 upper floors to "high standard" offices with only 10% to be affordable at 80% of market rate ( The artists probably wont be able to afford what's "affordable"! Ed.)
- a new 3rd storey for 1x2-bed and 4x3-bed "very high standard" flats.
- landscaping of the forecourt's open space
These changes will result in a substantial  reduction of the existing uses which Hackney Council found contribute to the "social well being of the community" when it concluded that the building is "an asset of community value".

To protect the existing uses, and even if you objected to the earlier plans, please make objections to the Council planners. If you are in the market please sign the petition which many traders are promoting to support the #SaveRidleyRoad campaign.

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Hackney Council is "strangling the market with red tape"

The Ridley Road Market Traders Association has sent in objections to Hackney's plans to increase market fees and charges and to impose draconian licensing conditions on its traders by 1st April.

Hackney's 280 conditions have been described as a licence for slavery. The Association commented that "Our overall view is that, far from helping the market, the existing and new conditions are strangling it with red tape" and that "the imposition of these requirements make many traders businesses unviable".

The Association described the Council's consultation as a "deeply flawed process" and its proposed licensing conditions as "oppressive and disproportionate" which could lead to "a loss of respect for and ridicule of the regulatory process, and expose both [Council] officers and traders to allegations of abuse and to actual abuse"

The Council did not consult the Association on its plans and refused to extend its consultation period. However Councillor Nicholson informed the Association that "officers would consider its views". Traders voted overwhelming to reject the Council's plans at a meeting last Thursday, organised by the Association, and now await the outcome of  their objections.