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 most of the Curve Garden's southern boundary and is 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 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 fully 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 plannning, 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, Haven East 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 plonking 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 High Street, where once there were two storey buildings, now has 6 storeys. There are now afternoon and evening sunlight loses 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% flats for social rent and all avaiable 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, Haven East 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 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.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Hackney Mayor fails to deny Eastern Curve Garden will be redeveloped

In response to Hackney's public consultation on its Principles for Development of the Dalston Cultural Quarter we sent our representations to the Council this week and let people know on twitter @OPENDalston. You can read what we said to Hackney here
There has been huge public concern about the Council's plans because development site 3 includes the Council owned part of the hugely popular Eastern Curve Garden . Some fine heritage buildings and affordable workspaces for local community and creative enterprises are also to be part of the Dalston Cultural Quarter deal.

We next had a tweet from Hackney's newly elected executive Mayor Philip Glanville. This is what he said.

It was great that Hackney Mayor wanted us to "be clear" about the Council's intentions. But how clear was he? He said the Council wasn't consulting the public about developing the Garden. And that Hackney didn't intend to develop the part of the Garden owned by Kingsland Shopping Centre.
But what about the entrance and 25% of the Garden's land which is owned by the Council? Hackney's Garden land is included in development Site 3 and its' stated intention is to dispose of all four sites to a single "development partner"  to "maximise capital value and rental income for the Council " (see paragraph 7 of its' Cabinet Report)

The Mayor didn't deny that the part of the Garden owned by Hackney would be included in the development deal, just that it wouldn't be a "traditional disposal" and that, anyway, it was "a long way off".
But if the Council hasn't ruled out development of its Garden land why has it been included as part of development site 3 for a 'non-traditional disposal' at all?


Ah - so even if the Garden land is to be part of a  'non-traditional disposal' to a developer we should not assume it will all be completely developed over.  But if Hackney's part of the Garden could be developed on, why are Council officers refusing to consult the public about its future?

So Hackney is consulting on ensuring the "best of Dalston is preserved" - namely heritage, community organisations, culture and workspace. But what about the only, and much loved, local public green space? The Eastern Curve Garden is, notably, not on the Mayor's list and, as the Mayor said from the start, the Council is not consulting the public on the development of the Garden. 

Is that clear now? The Council owned part of the Eastern Curve Garden is included in development Site 3. In due course it will be part of a 'non-traditional' disposal to a single "development partner". The Council is not consulting the public about the Garden's future, because is not part of "the best of Dalston" to be "preserved". And we must not assume that it will be developed over entirely - some of it might be left undeveloped ( Enough for a public thoroughfare perhaps? Ed.)  

What is clear is that the Mayor has failed to deny that the Garden could be developed as part of the Council's Cultural Quarter plans.

Hackney's vision for the future of the Garden - enshrined in the 2013 Dalston Area Action Plan - a public thoroughfare along the Eastern Curve linking Dalston Lane with a redeveloped Kingsland Shopping Centre 

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.You can meet and discuss the plans with Council officers between 6:00pm - 7:45pm at  Hackney Town Hall (Room 32) E8 1EA on 10th April. You can also tell the Council your views here. The public consultation closes on 17th April


Dalston's "Cultural Quarter" - tell Hackney your views

Why is Hackney misleading the public about Eastern Curve Garden?

Hackney's monstrous plan to "regenerate" Dalston's Eastern Curve Garden

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Dalston's "Cultural Quarter" - tell Hackney your views

Hackney Council is consulting on its principles for development of four sites in Dalston town centre. The sites have been designated as a  "Cultural Quarter". All are owned by the Council including part of the Eastern Curve Garden (including its entrances, pavillion and hothouse), heritage buildings and two vacant building sites. All the buildings and land are presently occupied by creative, community and charitable enterprises. The Council's stated intention is to "maximise regeneration benefits" and to "maximise capital value and rental revenue for the Council"
The development areas are Site 1 The former CLR James library and the Georgian houses at 18-22 Dalston Lane. Site 2 The vacant site on Ashwin Street west side. Site 3 The Railway Tavern, 10-16 Ashwin Street east side and the southern part of the Eastern Curve Garden and Site 4 The car park in Abbott Street 

You can meet and discuss the plans with Council officers between 6:00pm - 7:45pm at Dalston CLR James Library on the 23rd March and at Hackney Town Hall (Room 32) E8 1EA on 10th April 
The public consultation closes on 17 April.

You can read OPEN Dalston's analysis and responses here and a summary below. We hope that these will help inform your views and responses to the Council.

You can read the Council's consultation documents hereYou can tell the Council your views here.

Summary of OPEN Dalston’s responses

We consider that the Council’s  Development Principles for development of the Dalston Quarter should include the following wording:

a.         Development will not be permitted within the Dalston Quarter which would compromise the existing extent, bio-diversity and continued use of the Eastern Curve Garden and its facilities as an enclosed, secluded and financially sustainable community garden with free public access.The Eastern Curve Garden will be designated as Local Green Space and afforded protection from new development.

The Eastern Curve Garden is a community garden on historic open space which attracts 150,00 people each year. It is where people meet plants, children play and learn safely, a place for solace, for creative and cultural events and it is a wildlife corridor

b.         New development within the Cultural Quarter and on adjoining land, including Thames House and the Kingsland Shopping Centre, will be designed to improve pedestrian permeability through the area without the need to utilise the Eastern Curve Garden as a public thoroughfare

The Council has designated the Eastern Curve, including the Garden, as a hard surfaced public thoroughfare ("shopping circuit"). This image shows that, working with adjoining sites, there are plenty of other opportunities for interesting pedestrian routes through the area without compromising the Garden.  

c.         The historic buildings are the key driver to the regeneration of the Cultural Quarter. They, and their settings, will be safeguarded and enhanced. Alterations to the buildings will not be permitted which harm or cause any risk of future harm to their historic structures and character 

These are the last surviving pairs of Georgian houses at 18-22 Dalston Lane. All the others were demolished either for redevelopment purposes or due to historic neglect.  

d.         Only professional consultants and contractors with conservation accreditation and expertise will be appointed to deal with historic buildings.

We consider that these buildings at 10-16 Ashwin Street, designed in 1870 by Edwin Horne,  and the former Victorian factory behind them, are of high heritage, aesthetic, cultural and communal value. Any intervention would require considerable expertise to avoid loss or damage to their character and significance

e.         Any new development will preserve and enhance the setting of historic buildings and of open spaces and their amenity.

The buildings Ashwin Street have had a historic association with the visual and performing arts since 1870 and are still fully occupied by artists and other creative businesses today. Extensive work to these, and the other buildings, and higher rents, could see the existing uses permanently displaced. 

f.          Affordable workspace presently used for cultural, charitable and community (third sector) activities will not be reduced in its amount and will be enhanced in quality

g.         Section 106 planning agreements will secure developer contributions towards the conservation of the area's heritage and the support of the cultural, charitable and community uses to which the land and buildings are put

The Railway Tavern, built in 1868, is in a prominent position at 11 Dalston Lane. The building cannot be demolished without loss of heritage significance to this part of Dalston.”

h.         Cyclists will be required to dismount in areas of pedestrian public realm save where there are safe demarcated routes for cyclists. If the Council insists upon implementing "shared space" for cyclists and pedestrians it should consider requiring cyclists using such space to have third party accident insurance 

i.          Access for motor vehicles from Dalston Lane into, and parking in, Ashwin Street will be removed other than for those with disabilities. 

The Reeves factory for artists' paints was designed in 1868 by Edwin Horne and is now occupied by Arcola Theatre, Cafe Oto and the Bootstrap Company with numerous small independent enterprises

j.          Any new residential development will be sufficiently remote from performing arts venues within the Cultural Quarter so as to avoid conflict between different uses 

The Council's public consultation closes on 17 April.You can read OPEN Dalston's detailed responses here  We hope that these will help inform your views and responses to the Council. You can tell the Council your views here.

Back stories:

Why is Hackney misleading the public about Eastern Curve Garden?

Hackney's monstrous plan to "regenerate" Dalston's Eastern Curve Garden

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Hackney Council - champions of our heritage and hard working people (NOT)

Twenty four brand new Georgian "heritage likeness" private flats, 100% unaffordable, are now for sale in Dalston Lane.  (Thanks Hackney! Ed)

Alternatively try Mansion Global USA who are seeking off-plan overseas investors for the new Kingsland tower. "Dalston with a view" flats are offered at prices from £470,000 to £1.5million in London's "trendiest district" with "views of the Shard".
Only 90% unaffordable but the remaining 10% "affordable flats" (with own poor door) cost many times what locals on average can afford. (Thanks again Hackney! Ed.)

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Why is Hackney misleading the public about Eastern Curve Garden?

When Hackney launched its public consultation proposals on 25 February, for development of Dalston's "Cultural Quarter",  there was immediate public outcry. Our much loved public Garden is included within development site 3 (Ashwin Street east) for "regeneration". An SOS was issued -" The Garden is at risk and we need your help!" - and local people are coming in huge numbers to see what they could do to help.

The Garden was included by the Council in development site 3 from the outset. Hackney's Regeneration Czar Councillor Nicholson explained this was because "the next stage is...engagement with the local community to explore initial options.....the inclusion and consideration of the future of the part of the potential options for delivery of the Quarter, is important to explore and confirm how the Garden may be treated going forward"

So the Garden is included in site 3 for "consideration of the future". But on 1st March Hackney's Press Office issued a statement that "The Garden isn't included in the consultation" and when people attended CLR James Library, to comment on the plans, they were informed that the Garden "was not part of the consultation".  In other words, Hackney is not interested in hearing the community's views on "how the Garden may be treated going forward" - only about how site 3 could be developed regardless of compromising the Garden's future.

But that's not the only example of Council misrepresentation. Fronting 10-16 Ashwin Street is a fine Victorian terrace built as houses of quality” designed by the noted architect Edwin Horne in 1870, who also designed the Reeves Artist's Colourworks (home to Arcola Theatre and Cafe Oto). Behind it is an 1870 factory built for Tyer & Co., who invented railway telegraph signalling. 

Hackney's independent heritage consultants, Allies and Morrison, describe the Ashwin Street group of buildings overall as of "MEDIUM" historic value and the rear factory as of “HIGH historic value”. But Hackney's consultation document states "the blocks to the rear are of LOWER historical value". This is totally misleading. This misdescription is likely to prejudice the public’s opinion as to the value of retaining the rear factory, and so strengthen the argument for demolition. ( How could Hackney have got it so wrong? Is facadism Hackney's real agenda here, or worse? Ed.)

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Hackney's monstrous plan to "regenerate" Dalston's Eastern Curve Garden

Dalston's much loved Eastern Curve Garden has alerted its users to the extreme risks it faces from Hackney Council's latest plans to "regenerate" the Garden as part of what it calls Dalston's "Cultural Quarter".

You can find out more about these threats by attending one of the forthcoming "Future of the Garden" information events and by following on Facebook and Twitter @easterncurve

Hackney owns all four of its Dalston "Cultural Quarter"sites including a large part of the Eastern Curve Garden. In November 2015, without any public consultation, it decided to sell them as a single "comprehensive development/refurbishment" package for "regeneration". It considered that this strategy would "maximise capital value and rental revenue for the Council."

Hackney has refused to disclose its property valuation report on grounds of commercial confidentiality. More demolitions and luxury flats, and the loss of existing affordable work space, are likely ( Although the opposite is said. Ed.).

This Council map illustrates its carve up of the Dalston "Cultural Quarter". It shows that the Peace Mural entrance and a large part of the Eastern Curve Garden has been included in the Ashwin Street (east) development site Site 3. We wrote about Hackney's "regeneration" plans previously. The Garden was included then too.  (Despite objections. Ed.)

The Eastern Curve is a former railway cutting which had been safeguarded against development for possible re-use as a railway line. The site was opened to the public in 2009 for the temporary Dalston Mill art installation and in 2010 the use continued as a community managed public garden

TfL released the safeguarding and transferred the southern part of the Eastern Curve to Hackney and the remainder to the owners of Kingsland Shopping Centre. The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden now occupies both landholdings, but Hackney is only consulting about its own part which it has included within the Ashwin Street East Site 3.    

Hackney's latest "Cultural Quarter" consultation is with its "key stakeholders and the local community" . It says it's about "delivering the vision of the Dalston Area Action Plan (DAAP)". The DAAP had originally proposed a linear park along the Eastern Curve - “a  largely green open space". But after public consultation had closed, Hackney's vision and plans changed to a proposed "shopping circuit",

Hackney's "regeneration" vision for the Garden involves a hard-surfaced public thoroughfare which would link Dalston Square with a redeveloped Kingsland Shopping Centre, with shops and cafes having "active frontages" spilling out onto the route.
The presently secure and intimate environment of the existing Eastern Curve Garden, and its economic self-sufficiency, would be lost forever. ( Have you tried their café's delicious cakes? And the pizzas? Great value! Ed)

The Council claims the Eastern Curve Garden needs to become a public thoroughfare to provide  "pedestrian permeability" from Dalston Lane to a redeveloped Kingsland Shopping Centre. But look at all the potential routes available if only Hackney wasn't deaf and blind to the possibilities.

Dalston is an area recognised as severely deficient in green open space.The finally adopted DAAP, at pages 56 and 57, does at least acknowledge that "the successful community garden... is one of the many types of spaces that could be possible" for the Eastern Curve.

There is free public access to the  Eastern Curve Garden. It is a  place where people meet plants. It's where children can learn and play safely. A place for growth, creativity and solace amidst the hustle and bustle of Dalston Town centre's redevelopment.
 Its an urban wildlife corridor.

We will have to convince the Council of the need to preserve and enhance this essential community resource. If we fail there will be one very disappointed and angry community.