Saturday, 21 November 2015

Look out Dalston! Don't get hit by a runaway train (Crossrail2)

£30 billion Crossrail2 is coming through Dalston. Hurrah! We'll finally be on the tube.

But look out Dalston! Transport for London has also outlined proposals to demolish and re-develop many of our much loved streets and houses which, they say, is necessary to make Crossrail2 happen.  

Let us take you on a walk around the Dalston streets which TfL have got their eyes on. And consider the implications.  Are there alternatives? Read more here   

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Luxury flats will make Colvestone School nursery "resemble a prison"

The featureless rear wall of a block of luxury flats "would not only block the sunlight over much of the playground for most of the day  – making the space dark, damp and cold – but it will also resemble a prison wall" said Dalston's Judith Watt  who has issued Court action against Hackney Council to challenge its' grant of planning permission for the development next to a Dalston nursery. You can help the parents' campaign by signing the petition and donating towards expenses.

This view from Ridley Road market shows the development site and Grade II Listed Colvestone School. The school nursery's open space is between the site and the school and currently receives adequate sunlight. The three storey block of flats, with ground floor cafe, could be built right on its southern boundary. 

(Judith tells me that, at 9.55m, the wall is about three times the height of the Berlin Wall. Ed.)

The development will block sunshine from the playground as well as the view of the school which is at the western entrance of the St Mark's Conservation Area. The Head Teacher told the planners that the development would make the open space less useable and cause a risk to the toddler's health and their sense of well being. The Council Committee granted permission using the Chair's casting vote  

An architect's shadow diagram showing the nursery school and the overshadowing effect of the new block of flats.

Apart from the shadow making the nursery's play/learning area slippery with moss, slime and ice, sunlight deprivation is recognised as a serious risk factor for toddlers developing rickets which causes deformed bones. Children with darker skin, which absorbs less Vitamin D, are particularly at risk. Due to the increase in cases of rickets England's Chief Medical Officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies said in 2013 that all children should be offered vitamin supplements to safeguard their health. Hackney has since offered free vitamin supplements to all local school children 

The developers, Chan and Eayrs, say on their website, "We believe that simple things like the natural light that fills a space and awakens your spirits...enriches life in a way that is priceless".

(Indeed it does. Perhaps the developers would donate their profits to Hackney to help pay for the vitamin supplements for future generations of our school kids. Ed)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Colvestone school - Dalston resident sues Hackney to Save Our Sunshine

A Dalston resident has issued judicial review proceedings against Hackney's grant of planning permission for private flats which would severely overshadow Colvestone School's nursery playground. It is claimed that the decision amounts to an environmental injustice which will prejudice future generations of children as well as permanently damage the setting of the Grade II listed school building and the Conservation Area.

The legal challenge has won immediate support from local parents and residents who have created an on-line petition "Save Our Sunshine" which urges Hackney to enforce historic property covenants protecting sunlight to the school's land. You can help by signing the petition and, most of all, by going to the community's Crowdfunding appeal and contributing something to the cost of surveyors' evidence and barristers' and Court fees.

The Nursery school playground is used throughout the day, year round, as a learning and play space for children up to 5 years old. The southern boundary will have a three storey blank wall looming over the playground blocking out the sunshine and the sky.

The legal challenge has been issued following a study by independent sunlighting consultants, Anstey Horne, who commented that there would be "an increase of three to four times the existing levels of overshadowing"  and that " we cannot agree with the report's conclusion that the increase in shadowing will be modest and that the area will continue to receive plenty of sunlight."

After the loss of sunshine to the playground will be less pleasant, gloomy and cold but also "more persistent overshadowing may prevent frost, ice and snow from thawing and increase the growth of moss, slime etc potentially making it more slippery."

The court claim has been served on Hackney, and on the developer Zoe Chan at her Bayswater address. Hackney is expected to serve an acknowledgement of the claim shortly. In the meantime Hackney, Ms Chan and others have commented on the allegations in the Hackney Citizen.

Children already at the school, and those looking forward to joining the nursery class, were not consulted about the development in advance. However news of the development has been greeted with disbelief, not only by parents, but by many younger residents as well.

(The Colvestone School dispute is one of a number of recent controversial schemes involving pressure on Hackney's education land  and the interests of private residential investors. Ed)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Look out Dalston! More demolitions coming with TfL's Crossrail2

TfL has announced plans for public consultation on the development of the Dalston Junction /Dalston Kingsland section of Crossrail2 - a new underground line budgetted at £28Bn. Construction is hoped to start in 2020 with lines running by 2030. TfL's has identified five Dalston sites, marked A-E on the map below, where there will potentially be considerable impact, including demolition and redevelopment of buildings, even streets.

The area shaded purple is the proposed underground platform with the new aboveground ticket offices at each end marked with a red triangle. The sites marked are on both sides of Kingsland ( east & west)  and are all said to be required for Crossrail2 construction. TfL suggest that redevelopment of those and adjoining sites could contribute to the cost of the Crossrail2 development (What? More unaffordable TfL flats? Ed.)

The Nat West bank building and its neighbours on Kingsland High Street  are within Site C and, across the road,  all the shops and homes on the south side of Bradbury Street are within Site B.

 South of Dalston Junction 574-586 Kingsland Road  and. across the road, an 1860 terrace of houses and all of Bentley Street south side are at risk of demolition.

For a more detailed analysis  of Crossrail2 impact on Dalston click here

Dalston's previous experience of TfL's consultation regarding the East London Line development did not inspire confidence, as you can read about here and here. It could all have been so much better.

TfL's Crossrail2 consultation will close on 8th January 2016 . Over the next 2 months, we will publish further information to help inform your response to TfL's plans. So watch this space and post comments on this blog.

Contact if you would like to join our team which is already examining and preparing a community response to TfLs  plans.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Independent report reveals loss of sunlight to Colvestone School nursery

A leading UK firm of independent environmental surveyors, Anstey Horne, has reported  that a planned development adjoining the Colvestone Primary School's nursery will result generally in "an increase of three to four times the existing levels of overshadowing"  and that the development will leave "around half of the (playground) space in the proposed scheme's shadow for a significant amount of the day for much of the year." Anstey Horne commented that the test applied in the developer's own  report was "simplistic" and "would potentially provide a misleading impression." They go on to state " we cannot agree with the report's conclusion that the increase in shadowing will be modest and that the area will continue to receive plenty of sunlight."

Colvestone Primary School south facing outdoor play/learning area for nursery school children is used throughout the day, year round, weather permitting

The private development of a cafĂ© and flats obtained planning permission on 2nd September, through the use of the Committee Chair's casting vote, despite strong objections from local parents and the Head Teacher warning of the risk to children's education, health and well being. Hackney's planning officers failed to consult their colleagues in the Learning Trust which is the body responsible for education in Hackney.

How Colvestone Nursery School outdoor play/learning area will appear after the development which has received planning permission. 

Anstey Horne go on to report "The effect of the  proposed scheme will be to completely close of the open aspect to the south....This is of real concern as the additional overshadowing is likely to adversely affect the benefits that sunlight brings to the playground, making the area not just less pleasant, gloomy and cold but also preventing the drying out of the ground and surrounding surfaces. More persistent overshadowing here in colder months may prevent frost, ice and snow from thawing and increase the growth of moss, slime etc potentially making it more slippery. This is obviously of concern given the worst-affected space is dedicated area for young children's play throughout the day and year...not just at break and lunchtimes as was assumed"

The development site was once owned by Hackney and it is subject to a restrictive covenant protecting sunlight to the school's land. Hackney have failed to reply to Freedom of Information Act requests, and a local Councillor's letter, asking whether the Council will now act to prevent the loss of sunlight. 

The developers, Chan and Eayrs, say on their website, "We believe that simple things like the natural light that fills a space and awakens your spirits...enriches life in a way that is priceless".
(Indeed it does, so why are they trying to take our kids sunshine away? Ed.)

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Mansion Global USA seeks overseas investors for Dalston's exclusive new tower block “FiftySevenEast”

On line marketeers Mansion Global, part of Dow Jones, has launched its promotion of “FiftySevenEast - Dalston with a view” - the 15 storey tower development on Kingsland High Street (next to Dalston Kingsland station) now under construction. "East London is about more than hipsters" it says. Its about "looking for a return on investment.Prices start at £470,000 rising to £1,500,000. 


The FiftySevenEast tower was planned to be 19 storeys, as this image shows, but was later reduced to 15 storeys

Mansion Global's mission is to connect "the world's affluent real restate buyers with prestige properties across the globe", and advises that London's East End is "attracting more and more foreign buyers ". Imperial Dragon, who specialise in UK investment for Asian clients, are also marketing the development. 

The new residents targeted for Dalston - as promoted by the FiftySevenEast marketeers

OPEN Dalston opposed planning permission for FitySevenEast because, although huge profit is derived from stacking up the site, the real cost is the detriment to the surrounding area by over development and a failure to confer adequate community benefit.

The development will dominate the High Street, and so diminish neighbouring listed heritage buildings. Like a lighthouse in reverse, it will block sunlight from local homes, businesses and public spaces, and it will create high winds locally.

News article in London's Evening standard. It refers to an OPEN Dalston meeting arranged with London Mayor, to discuss public space, but Boris didn't intervene to improve the scheme.

Dalston's greatest need, for affordable rentals, family homes and children's play areas, are largely ignored. Of 98 flats there will be only14 "affordable starter homes", all in the front block with their own 'poor door', and even those are at prices requiring more than double the average Hackney household income.

Hackney's former Deputy Mayor, Karen Allcock, and Councillor Laing, were employed by the developer's PR company Four Communications at the time when  it was promoting re-development of the site.

The original scheme was unanimously turned down by the Committee after OPEN Dalston's vociferous campaign and 1,300 signature petition. The amended scheme only received planning permission after a special meeting between the developers and the Hackney Planning Committee, at which the public was not allowed to speak. The meeting was called, we were told, to "clear up misunderstandings" which had led to the earlier refusaL.

After approval the FiftySevenEast scheme was then sold on to Taylor Wimpey which had itself won planning permission to build an exclusive gated development on former public land sold by TfL, above the Western Curve railway tunnels , also on Kingsland High Street.  Both schemes are now under construction.

Taylor Wimpey's seven-storey Western Curve scheme, just south of FiftySevenEast, is also now under construction. It is nearly double the height of its neighbours and even some of the new flats are below British Standards.  Hackney Council provided over £1million in public funds to help  make the scheme possible ( Using public money to fund private investment is also known as 'corporate welfare' - Ed).

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Future for Haggerston Baths : public meeting Thursday 8th October at 7pm

The Save Haggerston Pool campaign has called a public meeting and invited Council representatives to outline the "expressions of interest" which they have received from potential bidders for a 250 year lease of the Grade II Listed building.

The meeting is on Thursday 8th October at 7pm in the VLC Centre, Whiston Road E2 8BN, next door to Haggerston Baths. The proposals received will be on display to view from 6pm.

The meeting will be chaired by the Campaign and is the first opportunity for the public to question and debate the future of the Baths, with Hackney's Assistant Director of Property Services and its Cabinet Member for Health and Community Services, since the Council announced its intention to invite offers for Haggerston Baths last June.

The Baths have been closed for 15 years and the Victorian Society has warned that the building is seriously "at risk". We have reported on the plight of the Baths here. You can read the Save Haggerston Pool campaign's website here. You can see recent photos of the interior of  the Baths on Spitalfields Life here

You can also read about a recent visit to the Haggerston Baths by Iain Sinclair here

"It’s like breaking into an Egyptian tomb, labyrinthine corridors insinuate in every direction, stairs snake towards unfamiliar offices and storage spaces, into sinister chambers where utilitarian grey tubs, the remnants of the second-class female baths, look more suited to archive footage of cold-hosed lunatics. The swimming pool is drained and the three churchy windows towards which I used to swim, as through a flooded cathedral, in my laboured choppy crawl, before breaststroking back again, were covered over. The natural light that used to flood the high-ceilinged hangar is excluded, in favour of sanctioned entropy. Haggerston Baths is another of those decommissioned non-places kept in a persistent vegetative state, like the Gothic mass of the neighbouring Queen Elizabeth Hospital for Children in Hackney Road, until the right development package comes along. And meanwhile spiders knit their spectral nets. Shivering phantoms stand before empty mirrors in white-tiled washrooms where the taps leak coal dust."
"Swimming on the 52nd Floor" Iain Sinclair, London review of Books