Hackney Council is now consulting on its proposed Dalston Plan for encouraging development of 600 new homes and 14,000sqm of shops offices and workspaces across 10 local sites. This on the basis that "regeneration....is vital to ensure the future success of the area". You can read the full plan here, a summary here and how to make your views known here. The public consultation closes on 1st October 2021
The Council's map of Dalston's development "opportunity" sites
The consultation is not asking the public whether, but how the sites should be re-developed. The Dalston Plan gushes with aspirational ideas of how careful redevelopment could protect the areas character and diversity and provide community benefit for locals. In the past similar aspirations have been routinely overlooked - major developments have produced an absence of socially rented accommodation, a paucity of new public amenities for children and green space, the loss of affordable workspaces and cultural landmarks, overshadowing of open spaces and homes and a rash of chain stores. Will the policies in this new Dalston Plan safeguard better outcomes? Are the policies worded strongly enough? Here are some clues.
Ridley Road market
Ridley Road street market and shops are the economic and cultural heart of Dalston. They attract about 70% of Dalston's shoppers to the area, provide local employment and, for many, are a vital source of affordable goods, fresh produce and of social and cultural interaction.
"Save Ridley road"campaigners - one of a series of portraits by Dalston photographer Tamara Stoll
Whilst promising to "protect" the market and improve pedestrian circulation, Hackney has designated all of the privately owned buildings on the north side of Ridley Road market as opportunity sites for "infill" redevelopment - developing existing buildings by up to 5 storeys, extending ground floors out to the pavement line and a new block of 27 flats at the eastern junction with St Marks Rise (That site had been identified as a potential public open space in the previous 2013 Plan. Ed.)
Ridley Road illustrating the proposed block of 27 flats on the corner of St Mark's Rise.
Such development will be hugely disruptive for the market's shopkeepers and stallholders, reduce space for stalls and circulation for shoppers and sterilise its character. In addition the Council proposes to further restrict vehicles using Ridley Road, to plant street trees there and to green over a useful means of access for traders deliveries in Colvestone Crescent ( to create a so called "21st Century Street". It's already gated 24/7 & the Kingsland Road entrance has also been closed to traders by the security bollards. Ed.
) Many stallholders are dependent on using their vans since the Birkbeck Road food cold store was demolished many years ago
and never replaced.
The Council owned Birkbeck Road scheme
Also affecting Ridley Road market, the Council propose redevelopment of its own site in Birkbeck Mews for up to 5 storeys to include reprovision of 1,000sqm of existing Ridely Road market traders storage, waste processing and public toilets plus a Market's Office, commercial uses and 11 new flats. (Will those flats be for social rent, or be sold to fund the scheme? How will those essential market amenities, and market access for traders along Birkbeck Mews, be provided during the re-development? Ed)
Kingsland Shopping Centre Site
For years Hackney have been awaiting a comprehensive housing led re-development of this major site to help meet its targets for new housing set by the GLA. The Dalston Plan, at page 120, identifies the site as appropriate for "taller buildings" with capacity for between 314 & 484 flats and up to 10,500m2 of commercial space and 670m2 community/amenity space plus some green open space and "yards". Total redevelopment including the Shopping Mall is presently constrained by Sainsbury's long lease and the Kingsland High Street entrance being "safeguarded" for possible development of Crossrail II. ( Presently in the long grass again, and Crossrail I being way over budget and incomplete. Ed.)
Following a number of discussions with Hackney, TfL and the GLA, Criterion Capital, which owns the whole site, has published its outline plans
to redevelop the Matalan building and car park. The Dalston Plan identifies the northern part of the site, alongside the overground railway line, as more sensitive to tall buildings, due to the possibility of overshadowing Ridely Road market.
This Criterion sketch of a northern 12 storey residential block by the railway suggests blocks elsewhere will be taller.
Criterion emphasise that a new open space with some green surfaces, called Martel Place, will be provided but this, it acknowledges, will be overshadowed by the existing Kinetica Tower. Other open spaces may also be overshadowed by the tall buildings which loom over from the south side of the site. (And where is the public playground for older kids we were promised in the 2013 Plan? Ed.)
The designs presented by Criterion last July appear to set the new blocks further back from the eastern curve which may mitigate the overshadowing of the new open spaces and residential blocks planned.
This Criterion sketch illustrates the possible footprints of four new blocks with retail commercial and open spaces at ground floor, 26 small "makers" workspaces on the 1st floor and residential floors above them.
The Dalston Plan refers to building up to 2,000 new homes locally over the next 15 years. It recognises that there is a severe shortage of socially rented and family size accommodation and that most locals have been priced out. It proposes that 50% of new homes should be "genuinely affordable"
of which 70% will be for social rent (These policies for "affordable" homes were routinely ignored in previous schemes. See here here and here Ed
Criterion's development is the biggest locally since Dalston Square and has previously referred to all new flats being for rent (ie a "Build to Rent" scheme). Its recent presentation states "While housing numbers and tenures are not yet finalised,
social housing will be included in the scheme. Exact numbers will depend on viability, and we are open to
Hackney Council purchasing these units."
Eastern Curve Garden
After a 10 year community campaign
the Council has finally abandoned its long held vision of turning the Garden into a hard surfaced public thoroughfare lined with shops (Hurrah! Well done Dalston campaigners!! 😊💕Ed
). The Dalston Plan says it will be "protected
" as a public "enclosed green space
" and it is now recognised as a "key element when producing plans for development adjacent to it, ensuring it retains sufficient privacy and sunlight
The northern part of the Garden is on Criterion's land but its proposals for redevelopment of the Kingsland Shopping centre do not impinge on the Garden - indeed it claims to emulate it by providing complimentary new green spaces
The Dalston Plan also refers to the Thames House development, lining the Garden's southern boundary, as "existing building stock
" whereas the approved development of up to 9 storeys has never commenced and the planning permission granted on 6 June 2018
is believed to have expired.
The proposed 2-9 storeyThames House development would have robbed the Garden of much of its sunlight & privacy
What "sufficient privacy and sunlight" means for the Garden will be back in contention again when a new scheme for the Thames House site is proposed.
Dalston Kingsland station
The Dalston Plan illustrates potential major development of Kingsland Station to improve accessibility ( The long awaited lifts? Ed) with a Slab over the railway cutting to support more retail and 3 to 5 storeys of up to 49 flats. ( How will the Slab be paid for? By the lack of "genuinely affordable" housing, no doubt. Ed)
Other opportunity development sites
This post highlights only 5 of the 10 potential redevelopment sites identified by Hackney. Others include :
130 Kingsland High Street (Argos in Sandringham Rd - 3 to 5 storeys of retail plus up to 17 flats);
Stamford Works ( Gillette Square - a mix of commercial cultural and community uses);
36-42 Kingsland High Street (McDonalds - 3-5 storeys of retail plus up to 23 flats);
Ashwin Street ( sites on its east and west side - 3 to 5 storeys for commercial and up to 17 flats) and
Former CLR James Library (ground floor community uses plus up to 17 flats).
Bear in mind that although up to 5 storeys is deemed generally acceptable in Dalston, the exception being the Kingsland Shopping Centre, previous developments have often exceeded the guideline heights.
Traffic, cycling and walking
The Dalston Plan recognises that Kingsland High Street and Dalston Lane are heavily congested ( More so, despite the pandemic, since implementing the Low Traffic Neighbourhood local road closures. Ed). It proposes new and improved pedestrian crossings, cycle infrastructure ( along Sandringham Rd and linking up with cycle Super Highway1 at Boleyn Rd) and that the Shopping Centre redevelopment could provide more accessible pleasant east/west routes for walkers and cyclists. ( I hope that will not be space "shared" with cyclists which is hazardous for children, elderly and disabled pedestrians. Ed.)
A further reference is made in the Dalston Plan to ensuring that new developments cater for "flexibility of (commercial) uses" to ensure "vibrancy and vitality in Dalston High Street" ( Oops...I've never heard of Dalston High Street! Ed)
Can you influence Dalston's future development?
Do you think the Council's draft Dalston Plan guidelines amount to "regeneration"?
Is the redevelopment described "vital to ensure the future success of the area
"? Or will it cleanse Dalston of its character, vibrancy, diversity and sustainability? The Save Ridely Road and Morning Lane People's Space campaigners have described the plans as "gentrification in action".
You can read the full plan here
, a summary here
and how to make your views known here
. The public consultation closes on 1st October 2021