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Musical Playground, Public Launch, Sponsorship, And Fibre-optic Cables

There are a few things to cover in this post so if one topic is not of interest to you, please scroll through to the next paragraph.

As many of you are all too aware, the long awaited opening of the children’s playground here in the square has turned into a nightmare for many. After months of  local kids having to gaze longing at the playground through wire fencing, the handover of the completed public square from Barratt Homes to the council (the only ones with the necessary public liability insurance that would allow usage of the playground) happened with little fanfare. And as those kids finally got to play on the award winning sensory-play apparatus, so the residents whose flats overlook them discovered what that meant for them: Continuous whistles and chimes at volumes that were, quite simply, extremely annoying. And not just during the day: Weekends especially have seen the noise continuing throughout the night as local clubbers and party-goers passing through the square late at night/early in the morning, find it amusing to see just how much noise they can make (maybe in their eyes some believe they are making music?). Needless to say there has been much dismay and I understand the council (both the Dalston area manager that is in charge of the square and it’s amenities, and the noise complaint team) have been bombarded with emails from disgruntled residents. Due to the usual “procedures” and red-tape, progress in addressing this issue has not been as swift as some would of liked (which I must mention is no excuse for the rudeness contained in some of the emails the council have received), but town-centre manager Cory Defoe has been on the case on behalf of residents and this morning he told me relief is high: With a little luck and a tail-wind, the 3 ‘musical’  devices (the tall, hand-pumped whistle, the whistling pedals, and the metal chime plates) will be removed before this weekend (should that not happen they will go early next week). The holes this creates will be made temporarily safe while the council consults with local parents with regard what to install as replacements. The whole process, which involves planning permission (which Cory will attempt to speed along with a retrospective application), ordering of the desired replacements (which are generally made to order), and of course installation, could take some weeks, but  things will move along as quickly as possible. The original apparatus was a poor decision, but rectifying that has become a priority: Just a little more patience please. I have myself also spoken to Gerald Bernard this morning, who has agreed to instruct his night concierge team to try to reason with late night ‘musicians’. No guarantees here though as they have no jurisdiction over the council’s square, but they will try. Anyone interested in hearing the opinions of some of those affected can visit the thread that has been running in our discussions forum since the day after the playground opened, HERE.

Slight change of subject now, going back to the above mentioned handover with little fanfare. There will be an official opening of Dalston Square to the public by Hackney Council: And all residents are invited (keep your eyes peeled for invites). What exactly is happening, and when, is as yet still unknown but more details will be revealed ‘Soon’ we are told – Watch this space.

Next, is there anyone out there interested in buying an ad, or advertorial, in a print run of 50,000 copies of a free pocket guide to Hackney? The project is being run by “…a freelance travel writer working for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides…” who also “… wrote the East Hackney Cookbook, which is raising £10,000 for 2 local food charities.” If yes, check out Helena Smith’s website HERE (you can also contact her through that website).

The last topic of this posting is “Hyperfast broadband”. Do you remember THIS post I made back in May of 2012 about 1Gig internet download speeds coming to Dalston Square (and the topic’s accompanying forum thread HERE)? The same company, Hyperoptic, after being given permission by Barratt to work on one of their other developments, has given Hyperoptic the go-ahead to survey the rest of Dalston Square (phases I & II were surveyed last year to get it started) with an eye to granting them license to ‘wire us up’. First Openreach (BT’s infrastructure arm) would be contracted to run fibre from the street into block basements, where the exchange boxes will be placed. Each and every block would then receive a new copper network that any resident can be hooked up to if they wish to pay Hyperoptic a monthly fee (as with any other ISP of course). Connection to these phenomenal speeds requires that you have a modem in the cupboard by your front door. Anyhow, to pre-register for the service and receive a discounted price for the first two years, visit their website. These are not unreasonable prices for speeds like this, and no connection fees which is cool. They seem to be investing quite heavily in the hope of acquiring customers, but could do well as the first to offer the service. BT doing this themselves is looking as distant as ever (we were told back in 2012 that their paltry 60Mb ‘Infinity’ service was only 6 months away, but it has been continually delayed ever since).

That’s it for now.


DSRA Survey Results Plus A Chance To Question The Candidates For The Upcoming Local Elections

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our recent survey of Dalston Square residents. The responses (both paper and digital) have now been combined and analysed, and a final report produced. And it makes for very interesting reading. Overall the responses were very positive: It seems we are very happy to be living in such a beautiful development in the heart of one of the most vibrant and diverse areas of London. There are niggles of course, it goes without saying, but these can/should be addressed without too much trouble, and the DSRA will continue to work on your behalf to ensure they are addressed. Reassuring for us was the fact that the vast majority of the niggles mentioned are already under discussion: By raising them in your responses you have strengthened our hand in these discussions which should help greatly in having them addressed and remedied. The report is available for download over at our discussions forum HERE. As I say in that posting, I will be addressing all the comments and questions made in your responses, but this will take a while to work through so please bear with me on that.

And did you realise it is election season? On May 22nd we will have the opportunity to vote for our local councillors, the Hackney Mayor, and members of the European Parliament. While the Mayoral and European elections are important, the primary concern for many, given the pace of change in the area, is to ensure that the local ward councillors are prepared to speak up for, and listen to and represent the views of, the communities of Dalston. To this end, Dalston Futures (working with Hackney Unites) have arranged for local residents to have the chance to question the candidates before voting day. For full info on the multiple events they have planned see HERE and HERE.

One last thing before signing off, predominantly addressed to residents of phase 1 buildings (Collins Tower through to Labyrinth), and those that visit the concierge on a regular basis: Are you noticing restaurant cooking aromas in residential areas of buildings? Unfortunately the extraction system currently in place to remove said odours seems unfit for purpose. Rather than extract them from the buildings it simply pumps them into the service tunnel that runs the full length of phase 1. Many people are noticing odours in lobbies, and after travelling up the lift shafts they can even be noticed (sometimes strongly depending on the wind direction) in the corridors of even the top floors of some blocks. We are in discussion with both Barratt Homes and Consort regarding this matter but need your assistance to gauge the extent of the problem: While the existing system meets building regulations (according to Barratt), we feel we should not be able to smell the restaurants unless we are inside them. We have therefore agreed with Barratt that any complaints should be addressed to Hackney Council’s pollution control department for assessment. They can be reached by phone on 020 8356 4455, or preferably by email at pollutionsupport@hackney.gov.uk. With one more restaurant and warmer weather still to come this problem can only get worse so please do not ignore it, report it now.


Survey for Dalston Square Residents

Further to my last post our short, anonymous survey for residents of Dalston Square is now ready. Currently being printed it should be in letterboxes by the end of the working day tomorrow (Friday). Comprised of just 11 multiple choice questions (with options to add extra comments if you wish) it really will take just a minute or 2 to complete. This is your home, and this is your chance to voice your opinion on how it is being managed. I am aware that this website has many followers that reside in the local community but not in the Square itself, and on this occasion I ask you please ignore this posting: Our survey is for Dalston Square residents only please. I should also mention that the closing date for responses is April 15th, so there is plenty of time to respond. Please return your completed survey to the DSRA letterbox in the foyer of Gaumont Tower: It is immediately beneath box number 69.

And for those who prefer ‘electronic’, the survey can be completed right here on the website. Simply click the link below to have the survey open for you. And of course if you complete the survey here, please ignore the paper version when you receive it. Many thanks in advance to you all for your time.

Take Our Survey!


Dalston Square As A Public Space Plus A Local Museums Call For Help

Billed as ‘the largest public space created in London since the war’, Dalston Square was, right from it’s inception, planned as a space for the whole community to use and enjoy. To this end Hackney Council created the Dalston Square Culture & Community Forum, which has now been running for nearly 2 years. Under the leadership of LBH Cultural Programme Officer Lucy McMenemy the Forum’s brief was clear:

  • To ensure that residents in the vicinity of Dalston Square are consulted about the cultural programming of the square.
  • To ensure a shared sense of ownership of the square from all sections of Hackney’s community.
  • To create an opportunity for other key stakeholders, representing cultural venues in the Dalston area, to participate in the shaping of the programme.
  • To identify opportunities for linking Dalston Square’s programme with cultural activities taking place in other public spaces in Dalston, in order to ensure a complementary approach.
  • To develop opportunities for Dalston Square to become a vibrant and healthy area that promotes a variety of well-being initiatives.

The Forum meets every 3 months and is comprised of: Lucy McMenemy, LBH Dalston Town Centre Manager Cory Defoe, Dalston ward councillors Sophie Linden and Michelle Gregory, and finally 7 ‘local resident’ representatives. These 7 are comprised of 2 reps each from Dalston Square and Rhodes Estate, and one each from Mayfield Close & Forest Grove Estates, Forest Road, Acer Street & Holly Street Estates, and finally Keswick Lodge & Panton Lodge.

The DSRA have had representatives on the the Forum right from the first meeting back in May of 2012, and I have been publishing the meeting minutes to our own discussions forum for everyone to peruse (minutes from all 8 meetings so far, including the latest one on March 12th, can be found HERE). And hopefully everyone has enjoyed at least some of the many events that have already been staged here in the Square over the last couple of years. Probably the most ambitious of these was the one day Christmas market held here last December.

With the Square now all but finished, and after the success of previous events, thoughts are turning to the possibility of bigger, grander events. Though still early days, a 2014 Christmas market could be one such event: If a small one day event can be a success, how about a 3 day market with double the amount of stalls including food & drink, and a sound stage for performances by local school choirs and performers (the market would also need at least a second day to make it commercially viable)? At the bottom of this post you can see the proposal document of just such an event (click the thumbnail to see it full size). Because of it’s size though, the Culture & Community Forum are looking for opinions from the wider Dalston Square residency. The DSRA have expressed concern that any such event would need to be well planned and run (with marshaling and policing if it will truly ‘fill’ the Square). Sound stage volumes would have to be monitored to ensure they do not become a nuisance to residents overlooking the Square (as several hundred residents do), and after the failings following last year’s market, cleaning up after the event would also need to be swift and thorough (and probably necessary both during and after each day rather than just at the end). If these concerns were alleviated though, we feel such an event could really put some life in to the place, drawing in visitors (along with their wallets) from across London. Surely this could only be a good thing for the local community as a whole.

By all means feel free to leave your comments here but in order to gauge opinion on this and a few other issues, the DSRA will soon be sending out a very brief (a dozen questions at most) multiple-choice questionnaire to every apartment in the development. Yes, Dalston Square is a public space, but it is also home to very nearly 600 apartments with well over 1000 residents. This is acknowledged by the council who have given us a ‘voice’ on this issue. If you have an opinion, please do share it. As I say, the questionnaires will be going out shortly, and I will be posting an electronic version here on the website for those who prefer mouse & keyboard over pen & paper.

On a completely different note,  the Clowns Gallery, London’s unique show business museum and archive, currently housed in Holy Trinity Church (also known as ‘The Clowns Church) in Beechwood Road, is appealing for help. the second thumbnail below is their press release with all the details, so rather than me repeating their words, please click on that thumbnail to view it full size.

xmas proposal gallery closure


Meeting Reports

The DSRA had 2 big meetings last week and I have reports from each to share with you.

Firstly, our Buildings & Maintenance sub-committee had their regular inspection tour and meeting with Consort and Barratt. In brief, progress continues in many areas including news that the replacement canopy for Blues Street will be fitted soon. We also again received a commitment from Barratt that the matters of flooding beneath phase 3 and cooking smells in phase 1 will not be put to bed until permanent solutions have been found. With regard the cooking smells issue, the local council are to be approached by Consort to confirm that all building regs with regard air extraction are being met. Ben Collins’ full meeting report can be downloaded and viewed, as always, from the DSRA-specific section of our forum HERE. The only other thing to mention is the subject of the lifts problem in Thomas Tower. For at least the past year residents of Thomas/Burke have had continual lift outages. OTIS, the suppliers/maintainers of these lifts are now claiming that some very expensive belts need replacing at a cost (because warranties have now expired) of over £9000.00! Consort, armed with resident testimony, are arguing that this issue has been ongoing since before the warranties expired and should therefore be rectified free of charge (the belts in discussion should last for 10 years or more and so should not need replacement after just 2 years). Hopefully OTIS will come around and get this sorted out sooner rather than later.

The other meeting was the latest in a long line of meetings between Consort and our Finance group. This report, from Jane Collins, I will share with you right here (a copy will also be stored in the Document Depository over at the forum):

We have been in discussion with Consort over recent weeks regarding the 2014/15 Service Charge estimates.

Our concerns regarding the proposed 2014/15 Service Charge estimates have been:
• Previous estimates for major items had variations between buildings and phases that could not be explained
• A proposal to contract out the cleaning appeared to be very expensive
• All phases had variations in increases that suggested that the original estimates were very inaccurate
• Insurance brokerage is provided in-house
• All phases had proposed increases above inflation, with double-digit increases in phases two and three

We now feel that we have had the opportunity to challenge Consort on these points, and we are more confident that the proposed estimates are accurate. The proposal to contract out the cleaning has been withdrawn and a number of other changes have been made resulting in small savings. We have been given evidence allowing us to compare our Service Charges with other similar properties. We now have proposed estimates for Dalston Square across the phases of the development, which suggest that we are all now being charged the correct, roughly similar, amounts in comparison to each other, based on the charge per square foot.

Unfortunately the large increases in Service Charges in phase two and three seem inevitable as phase two and three charges were significantly underestimated in the first place.

The evidence of past inefficient management of our finances by Consort, particularly the failure to set a realistically increased budget last year, will make this a very difficult year. We have seen evidence that financial management has improved recently but we believe, and asked, that there should be no increase to our service charge this year.

Ground rent demands have been sent and we have been told the new Service Charge demands will be sent in the next few weeks.

When you receive your Service Charge, we urge you to make your concerns known to Consort. Individual personal responses have the greatest impact, and please use the Forum to share these concerns.

One thing I wish to reiterate is that, although phases 2 and 3 will see potentially large increases in their service charge bills when they are sent out in the next couple of weeks (phase 3 will see the largest increases), these charges are correct for a development like ours, with our amenities, in London (around £2.50 per square foot of apartment space). Yes, there have been problems with the way Consort was apportioning costs (mostly now sorted), but the biggest problem has been the way Barratt, and by extension Consort as their agents, have been underestimating and under-billing service charges for the first couple of years of each phases life. Accusations have been made (although denied) that this was a ploy to make selling the brand new flats easier. How can it be that phase 3 was so drastically underestimated when the cost of running the 4/5 year old phase 1 was already known, unless it was done deliberately?


Opinions & Choices

First a quick piece of half-news: The last retail unit is now being worked on. Top of the stairs as you leave the Square heading for the rear entrance to Dalston Junction station, the last piece of the Dalston Square commercial jigsaw slots into place. Although I am still unsure of the name of the restaurant or the owner, I can confirm it is to be a Japanese restaurant. More to come when I learn of it.

Now news of a new project running in Dalston for the duration of March (and beyond?). Many of you will be aware of services like Yelp that can point you to the right bar, cafe, and/or restaurant when you want it (particularly great as a smart-phone app). How about a research tool that allows you to comment on, not just food and drink establishments but, everything an area has to offer. And the ability to read other peoples opinions of course. Below is the poster that launched the project over the weekend. In their words “… CPRE London and Commonplace have created a different way for you to share your ideas about your neighbourhood. Using your phone, home computer or other internet device, you can comment in real time, share your views, and also find out what other people in your neighbourhood think. Information is immediately available to you or your organisation…. Register now on Dalston.Commonplace.is…” A chance to get your geek on.

launch


Kingsland Shopping Centre & Hackney Unites – United

Firstly, a reminder that Hackney Council’s ‘open to the public’ meeting, where developers will make a pre-application presentation of their plans for the redevelopment of Kingsland Shopping centre, is tonight:  Stoke Newington Town Hall, 6.30pm. See my last post to this blog (second paragraph) HERE for full details.

Secondly, a reminder that Wednesday next week, 5th March, will see the next meeting of Hackney Unites’ ‘Dalston Futures’. Under discussion will be their latest project ‘Speak Out’. Full details can be found HERE.

And lastly, to unite the previous 2 topics, Dalston Futures are building a petition regarding the Kingsland Shopping Centre redevelopment. Their aim is to force the developers into discussion with the local community. As they rightly point out, this will have a huge impact on the people that live here and yet at no point has the community been asked their views. For full details follow THIS link, for the self explanatory petition itself click HERE.


Consort Alerts + Kingsland Shopping Centre Redevelopment

I have, this morning, posted 3 new Consort ‘Alerts’ to the forum: Sanitisation of the Phase 3 sub-basement has begun as promised, but will take a little longer than expected to complete; cleaning of communal carpets throughout the development has begun this week; Phase 2 bicycle storage unit to be emptied by Friday next week. All 3 ‘Alerts’ can be read in full in our forum HERE.

Those of you familiar with Hackney Council’s DAAP (Dalston Area Action Plan) know that Kingsland Shopping Centre is living on borrowed time. The planned redevelopment of this area is central to the council’s  vision of an updated, modern Dalston. To this end, the first of what is sure to be many public meetings is scheduled for Tuesday next week, February 25th, at 6.30pm in the Stoke Newington Town Hall, and everyone is invited. Although not able to participate in the discussions, members of the public will be able to sit in on the presentation a developer will be making to the council, about their plan for the redevelopment. Full details of exactly what will be happening are included in the document thumb-nailed below. Click on each image to see it full size. (The link at the bottom of page 1 can be followed HERE.)

Kingsland p1Kingsland p2Kingsland p3


Past, Present, And Futures

In time order then, let’s start with the ‘Past’: Thanks to everyone who attended the recent DSRA open meeting in the CLR James Library. The meeting was kept short, as requested, but, I believe, successfully conveyed to all present where the DSRA currently stands and what we have been working on. Of particular interest was the subject of our service/management charges, which we hope to have further news on very soon as Consort complete the budgets for past years as well as the 2014/15 financial year. A report on the meeting is now available for download from the DSRA specific section of our Forum HERE (if this link does not work for you, read the first post in THIS THREAD). And while on the subjects of our forum, Consort, and budgets, at Consort’s request I have published a copy of the letter they recently sent out to all owners (there has been an issue with sending out this letter so if you are an owner but have not received it, a little patience should see new copies sent out very soon. Failing that, read it on our forum HERE). Though mostly of interest just to owners, the first paragraph includes news relevant to all Dalston Square residents: For those still unaware, Sean Stone, Consort’s on-site development manager, has left Consort and been replaced by Mr. Gerald Bernard. Obviously Gerald is going to need a little time to settle in and get to know the place (and it’s issues), but if needed he can be contacted on 020 7249 0896, or by email at gerald.bernard@consortpm.co.uk.

Moving now into the ‘Present’, we have the ongoing issue of the flooding of the sub-basement beneath phase 3 buildings, and more specifically Sledge Tower. After many emails back and forth between DSRA Chair Ben Collins, Consort, and Barratt, it seems we have finally got the the crux of the issue. It seems this is pretty much the last part of the Square yet to be handed over to Consort because of the issues of flooding in this sub-basement. This flooding has been an issue right from the early stages of construction and Barratt have a number of engineers looking at the problem, trying to find a way to rectify it. This problem only recently came to residents attention when a sewer blockage forced raw sewage into the already flooded sub-basement. Anyhow, Barratt have now pumped this area dry (and have committed to keeping it dry until a solution to the flooding has been put in place), and have instructed Consort to go ahead and have the whole area sanitized to remove the last of the residues and with them, hopefully, the last of the odours. Consort have advised us that this work will be undertaken next week, and will take a full 5 days to complete. If after next week anyone again smells a problem, do not hesitate in contacting either Consort or Barratt (phone numbers and email addresses are in the side-bar of our website homepage).

And finally the ‘Futures’: Dalston Futures (the Hackney Unites project that aims to give the local Dalston community a voice in what happens in/to Dalston). They have just received a grant to make a short film allowing local people to voice their concerns, and they want to hear what yours are. If you would like to be heard, or have experience in film making and can offer advise/help, check out all the details HERE.

That’s all for now, have a great weekend neighbours!


Updates

Firstly, we now have a venue and an agenda for this coming Thursday’s DSRA ‘Open Meeting’. The venue is to be the CLR James Library (just ask at the library reception and they will be able to point you to the meeting room), and the agenda can be seen on the flyer at the foot of this post (click the thumbnail image to see it full size). As I mentioned in my last post, of particular interest at this time is Consort’s budget for our service/maintenance charges for the 2014/15 financial year. Members of our financial committee will be present at the meeting to report back on their meeting with Consort last week where that budget was presented to us: The news is not good.

On the 11th October last year I published a post (HERE) advising of a survey Hackney Council was running in order to gauge opinion on the subject of making Dalston an SPA (special policy area). This is used to control last night licensing in areas where a large number of such licenses already exist (if you followed the link I posted in the comments beneath that post, HERE, there was a very sound argument against such a carte blanche policy). Well, in a recent council meeting the council decided to go ahead with the plan. For further reading on the subject, HERE are details on the council’s own website, and two very good reports that give some extra info and interesting stats can be found HERE (Hackney Citizen) and HERE (East London Lines).

Lastly, updates on the two new restaurants that will soon be opening in the Square. First to open will be Nancy’s Pantry (in the space that was once the Barratt sales office): Currently scheduled to open their doors at 10am on Sunday 9th February. This is a restaurant that will be focusing on children and the family so is well placed in a development the size of Dalston Square. Check out their Facebook page HERE to be teased with pictures of items from their menu. Not too far behind them, though I do not yet have a date, will be Le Ziz (in the space below the gym in Gaumont Tower). Their website is still under construction and I do not yet have a great deal of details but what I can tell you is this: It will be a Mediterranean and Anatolian ‘fine dining’ restaurant, with a designated lounge area with a more relaxed atmosphere. They have also said that they will be holding a buffet/cocktail style launch event, just before their official opening, for residents of the Square: Very exciting. More news on that very soon.

One last thing before I finish (whilst on the subject of Dalston Square Businesses), are you aware of ‘The Mayor of Hackney’s Business Awards’? These are annual awards given out to Hackney businesses and business people in various categories. One of these categories is the Peoples Choice Award, and here the winner is voted for, from a shortlist, by the public. And would you believe that two of the list of 30 businesses belong to Dalston Square residents: Fiona ‘Fee’ Eastwood’s ‘Fee Fee La Fou‘ on Bradbury Street, and husband and wife team Murat & Melek Erdal’s ‘Cafe Route‘ right here on the Square. Unfortunately you can only vote once so this could be a toughie, but please do vote and support your neighbours.

meeting flyer


DSRA Open Meeting Plus….

DSRA ‘Open’ Meeting – Thursday 6th February, 6.30pm to 8pm. Venue to be advised.

Are you free Thursday next week between 6.30pm and 8pm? And are you a resident of the Square (owner or renter)? Cool, see you at the next DSRA Open Meeting! 😉

As usual, the venue is still to be decided (it will be very local) but we have a date and time for the next ‘Open To All Residents’ meeting of the Dalston Square Residents’ Association. It does not matter if you have been to one before or not, or even that you have nothing in particular to say (although hopefully you do), come along and find out how the DSRA has been working on all residents’ behalf, learn of the challenges currently being tackled, and show your support. Items likely to appear on the agenda include:

Consort’s 2014/15 budget proposal: As owner’s costs rise, so do rents, so this is not just an owner’s issue. We will have feed-back from our finance committee on their recent meeting with Consort. The news is unlikely to be good.

Sean Stone’s replacement as Development Manager: As Consort and Barratt go through the motions of hiring, the DSRA is keen to be involved in the process. This also makes it a good time for us to assess how we feel about Consort’s ‘on site’ performance generally, and ask if changes are needed.

Outstanding buildings and maintenance issues: With final completion of the Square very close to hand there are still issues that need addressing before Barratt pack up and leave for good. What are the issues and how best do we ensure they are dealt with.

I will post again before the day of the meeting to publicise the venue. Until then, please keep that Thursday free and show your support by turning out for a couple of hours: If the Square is your home, we would love to hear your opinions.

Now to the ‘Plus’ part of the post. Hackney Unites are in the process of organising their next ‘Dalston Futures’ community meeting but in the meantime have co-sponsored an event with campaign group HOPE not hate. The event, to be held in the Arcola Theatre (ignore the Dalston Lane address if you click through to them – the venue has changed) on Feb 17th, will be an introduction to, as well as a masterclass in, community organising. Their full explanation of the event can be found HERE. It is expected that this will be oversubscribed so, to reserve your spot, check HERE.


Sewage Smells In Dalston Square

Hello all. Whilst primarily directed to tenants of Phase III, as the smells have apparently been detectable across the Square I felt this official notice from Consort should be posted here as well in it’s usually place on our forum (in the ‘Consort Memos & Notices’ section HERE):

Dear Resident

Sewerage smells

You may have noticed a smell of sewerage over the last couple of weeks and we apologise for this.

The reason there has been a smell is due to a large amount of sanitary towels/wipes/fat etc blocking up the drains underneath your buildings. This led to flooding of the sub basement area with actual raw sewerage. Thames Water were called out who had to pump out tonnes of contaminated water. Unfortunately this meant that remnants of the raw sewerage was left lying stagnant in the sub basement area for some time before Barratt were once again on site after the xmas break to clean it up. The sub basement area has not been handed over to Consort to date, but the clean up has now been successfully completed and the smell should have disappeared.

If you could please refrain from ever putting sanitary towels or wipes down your toilets it would stop this from happening again in addition to fat or ground coffee being put down your kitchen sinks.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Consort Customer Services

So there we have it. And it must be said that this advise is applicable to ALL Dalston Square residents, not just those in Phase III: Phases I & II, though not so severely, have also had blockage problems as a result of people flushing things down the toilet that should not be flushed. Tampons, sanitary towels, wet-wipes, cotton-buds, and fabric off-cuts are just some of the items removed from blocked pipes throughout the development (that I know of). Plumbing, and sewers come to that, are simply not designed to accept these things. As for fat and coffee, do a quick search on Youtube and you will find videos that show in full disgusting detail why these should never be flushed or discarded down the sink.

Apologies for starting 2014 with such an unpleasant post, but better news (the Square’s newest restaurant – Le Ziz) coming very soon. 😉


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And A……..

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We Wish You A……..

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DSRA Christmas Social Reminder

holly

Christmas Cheer!

Meet your neighbours, make new friends, bring the family!

6pm to 8 pm and beyond.
Friday 20th December

In the warm …

Pineapple House
Eastern Curve Garden (click HERE if you don’t know where this is)

Bring along mince pies and Xmas snacks!

Mulled wine, warm pineapple juice and…. yes! Roasted chestnuts from the open fire!

Invitations will be posted in all letter boxes – Bring them along for drinks at special rates.

See you there!

Ben Collins
Chair Residents Association

holly2


Meetings And Merriment

The ‘Merriment’ first I think. So you have probably seen posters are now up, on each block’s notice board, for our Christmas social (in case you have missed it you can click the thumbnail at the bottom of this post to check it out). Two things. Firstly, our thanks to resident Stephen for putting together yet another great poster. Secondly, you will see on the poster that it says “Mulled wine and warm apple juice from Eastern Curve at reduced rate on presentation of invitation”. These invitations will be posted to every mailbox in the development the week before the event. Don’t forget to bring it with you.

And now to the ‘Meetings’. A report from Ben Collins, Chair of the DSRA, on last weeks regular 6 weekly meeting with Barratt Homes that turned into a high level meeting with Barratt and Consort.

Representatives of the DSRA met with both Consort and Barratt senior management on Thursday the 5th of December, at their regular 6 weekly ‘Buildings & Maintenance’ meeting, to go over the ‘log’ of issues needing attention. Here is a brief summary of what was discussed, and agreed for action.

1) The 2012-2013 budget: The DSRA Finance Commitee has long been questioning the way in which costs are established. Common electricity (lifts and corridor lighting), water charges, building insurance, cleaning ‘value for money’, and fair Concierge wages, have been some of the key issues we have questioned. After two years of pressing, Consort is getting closer to setting our service charges on the basis of sound cost analysis rather than on estimates. Given the current evidence, it seems that many residents may learn of ‘above inflation’ increases in their service charges next year. Given past experience, this may be especially true of new residents moving in to the Phase 3 buildings.

2) Flooding garage under phase 1 buildings: Barratt are calling in the original sub- contractors who may have to reseal some of the joints in the concrete foundation slab and walls. A separate contractor is looking at the leaking drains. Barratt promises that is will look into basement drainage problems with specialist engineers to ensure all drips and flooding are cured and prevented.

3) Waste air extraction from restaurants below Phase 1 buildings: Residents in Phase 1 buildings have long been complaining about smells from refuse bins, and now restaurant kitchens, permeating into the building from the service tunnel below. Barratt have accepted our concerns and agreed to install a modern extraction system, which will require a new ducting system carrying foul air up to above roof level in Gaumont Tower.

4) Ventilation for the Site Manager’s office: Sean Stone has been operating from a very unhealthy, unventilated ‘storage space’ office. A new ventilation system is being installed and should be operational by January.

5) The playground in the Square: This is holding to its original plan and Barratt says it should be open by Christmas: With Luck

We would like to thank all those residents who have helped with the work of the DSRA thus far: Together we have made an important impact on the way the Square has been built and managed. If you would like to be a part of the team, and help us going forward, please do get in touch. The best way would be via our website email address at DalstonSquareRA@gmail.com.

DSRA_XMAS_2013


Liquor And Laundry

Two topics today for your consideration, the first being the latest licence application for Dalston Square. Nancy’s Pantry (also on Twitter HERE) will be opening in Unit 5 (the Barrat sales office) in February. In an email communication with the DSRA they told us “Our aim is to deliver the most family friendly restaurants in the UK, starting with our flagship site in Dalston…….. To create a space that is as fun for children as it is for parents, somewhere to eat great food, relax and where the kids can enjoy activities and have fun.” We were also told their business hours would be 8am until 6pm. All sounds very promising and a very welcome addition to the Square I would say. Sadly, their licence application includes a request for a liquor licence allowing them to serve alcohol from 8am until 1am. If this concerns you, full details of their application, plus how to voice your opinion to Hackney Council’s licensing board before they make a decision on the application (all submissions to the council must be in by 17th December) can be found in a thread on our forum HERE. Nancy’s Pantry have been made aware of our concerns and were yesterday invited to our forum to comment. Hopefully we can come to a agreement on what licence is needed for their business to succeed, rather than a carte blanche licence that could be abused by some future proprietor of that premises. Head on over to the forum thread and give Nancy’s Pantry your opinion now (everyone can read the forum posts but to contribute you will need to register: A very simple 2 minute process).

The second topic is laundry. As you will have noticed, but for ads beneath each post if you click into them (this is put there by the company hosting our website and drastically reduces our hosting costs), there is no advertising on this website. If, however, a local business wishes to offer residents of the Square, or indeed all Dalston residents, a discount, I am happy to let you know about it. I am also more than willing to help promote the businesses actually in the Square (I should also stress that no money ever changes hands for this promotion). Such is the case with Laundry Republic. They have been operating a service for Dalston Square residents, via the concierge desk in Gaumont Tower, for quite a while now, but are running a promotion (with some nice discounts) to build their existing client base. So, if you are interested in a service that will collect your dry cleaning/laundry/alteration needs/shoe repairs from the concierge and deliver them back once completed, and like to take advantage of first time user/resident discounts, check out their post in the forum HERE.


Holy Trinity School Addendum

Further to my last post, it seems some may be having trouble with the link I posted to the GLA webcast. The link is actually for the direct download of a desktop shortcut for the file. The GLA do not seem to allow actual downloading in full, but rather give you a shortcut that when double clicked, will run the webcast through your default media player (rather than via your web browser). So, if you are also having trouble, visit the GLA HERE, look under the heading ‘November 2013’, and click on the ‘ Holy Trinity School representation hearing’ link. If you continue to have problems, leave a comment on this post and I will attempt a work-around.


Xmas Social, Holy Trinity School, Dalston Futures

A big ‘Thank You!’ to everyone who voted in our poll to decide what to do for our Christmas social this year. The winning option, with 70.59% of the vote was (imagine a drum roll)…….. The Cafe Route option. Therefore, without further ado, I am very pleased to announce we are going to do something completely different. 😯 😆

So, set for Friday 20th December, from 6pm to 8pm (although you are welcome to stay for extra merriment if you wish), the event will be held in the cosy ‘winter quarters’ of the Eastern Curve Garden (namely the large main greenhouse complete with it’s, when lit, crackling glowing wood burning stove). Mulled wine and toasted chestnuts (fresh from the aforementioned stove) will be available for purchase (all funds go to the garden), and everyone is encouraged to bring a mince pie or three (or something similar) to share with your neighbours.  Poster coming soon.

Next up, news from the recent public hearing regarding the development of Holy Trinity School. After excellent presentations from both Hackney Council and local residents explaining their support for the school expansion, while still very much against the 7 storeys of flats proposed to sit atop it, Mayor Boris Johnson decided to overrule Hackney Council’s decision of earlier in the year and allow the development to go ahead. The 36 meter high (equal to 12 storeys) concrete mass will be taller than all it’s neighbours and will put many existing properties, to it’s West, North, and East, into shadow. Anyone interested in viewing a webcast of the proceedings (where the full picture of the arguments against the structure can be heard) can do so HERE.

Next, Dalston Futures. 45 local residents attended their second meeting recently (much better than the 10 for the first), so momentum is building. THIS from them regarding that meeting, their call for financial assistance through donations, and the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday 10th December from 6:30pm to 8pm (again in the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road). The online magazine East London Lines is currently carrying a video recorded at the last meeting which you can view HERE.

One last thing before I finish, many thanks to those who answered our Twitter call for pics of the Christmas Market held in the Square on Sunday. If you missed it yourself, you can see how successful it was by checking our Twitter feed @DalstonSquareRA.

 


DSRA Christmas Social

Following on from the recent DSRA open meeting, it is now time for us to think about our Christmas social event: A chance for Dalston Residents to get together for some pre-festivities jollification (not sure that is actually English, but if not, it should be). 😉

Over to Ben Collins who has been pondering the possibilities:

At our autumn social event on the roof terrace in September, there was a ‘show of hands’ for us to organise a Christmas ‘do’. The idea of us all siting around drinking champagne in a shiny white marquee overlooking the new fountain in the Square was eagerly agreed to! Hmm…. You wish! The practicalities of organising such a ‘do’ are, on further study, pretty prohibitive.

However, being ever positive, we would like to put two alternative ideas to you.

We organise either

1) An informal ‘get together’ in Cafe Route: The Residents Association reserves a couple of tables at Cafe Route for one mid December evening between 6.30 pm and 8pm. Residents let me or Cafe Route know they are coming for the event. Each would simply buy their own food and/or drink on the night.

Or

2) Organised Xmas canapes and mulled wine, by ticket booking, at  Lift cafe & coffee-shop: The Residents Association books the ‘function room’, from 6.30pm to 8pm, for 20-30 people in the back of Lift on Kingsland Rd, opposite Tesco Express (alcohol is available for functions). Residents would have to commit in advance to this social, by buying a ticket for (approx.) £7.50, to cover the cost of a scrumptious Christmas finger snack with Mulled wine.

Both could be fun. The ‘Lift’ option is more ambitious and will need people to commit at least two weeks ahead (possible dates are Wed 12th Dec or Thurs 19th, to be agreed with venue management), while the Cafe Route option would potentially allow for more spontaneity

Please let us know which option you would be most interested in.

Ben Collins
Chair, DSRA.

All that is left is for you to complete the poll. Simply click against your preferred option and then click on ‘Vote’. Job done. We will announce the outcome soon.


Bitter & Sweet

First the bitter. You will by now all be aware of the plan by Telford Homes to use the doubling of capacity at Holy Trinity School (possibly a good thing, depending on your view of faith schools) as an excuse to build 101 flats  above said school, at the south-eastern corner of Dalston Square. The plans for the development were rejected by Hackney Council earlier in the year (on the grounds of it’s impact on the area, current and future tenants adjacent to the site, and the school children themselves), but Telford then took their plans to the GLA (the offices of Mayor Boris Johnson) who provisionally overruled Hackney Council’s decision pending a public hearing. Well, that hearing is now upon us: This coming Monday, 18th November, 3pm at City Hall, Committee Rooms 4 & 5. The school is organising buses to transport parents/supporters of the scheme to the hearing (one has to wonder if parents are fully aware that the only play area for children will be an open ‘floor’ of the building between the school and the multiple stories of flats above, with, therefore, no open sky), so it is imperative that anyone against the proposal should also attend if they possibly can. Full details of the hearing, the proposed development, and the GLA’s own report, can all be found on the GLA’s website HERE.

Now the sweet. The Christmas market scheduled for the Square on December 1st will not just allow you to shop at the stalls, eat at the food stalls, and be entertained by a procession of local artists and performers. Oh no. You can also take part as a performer yourself. This just in:

Calling All Singers!

Do you like to sing? No matter if you have experience or not, come along and join in!

Led by vocalist and choirmaster, Iris Ederer, we will be singing uplifting popular tunes in a one and a half hour workshop where you will get to know a-cappella arrangements of well-known tunes from gospel to pop. In the vocal workshop we will do a quick body warm-up – comfortable clothes are suggested – some voice warm-ups and sound exercises – be prepared for some fun! All age groups welcome.

The workshop will take place at Dalston C.L.R James Library at 12:15 on 1st December 2013, and at 2.15pm we will sing our songs on stage at Dalston Christmas Market in Dalston Square – a public performance for you and your families. To sign up (and don’t forget this is open to all, no matter what your level of experience or abilities) please email talent@cityshowcase.co.uk and label your email IRIS.

Join in, join us, and invite all your friends and family to watch you perform.
And speaking of events in the Square, I have also received the minutes of the latest Dalston Square Culture & Community Engagement Forum (available for download from our discussions forum HERE – scroll down to last entry), as well as the third edition of Hackney Council’s Dalston Square Cultural Programme Newsletter (download HERE – again, scroll down the page to find it). Let’s show our thanks to the council for their work to make the Square a fun place to live in the best possible way: Get out there and support and participate in every event we can. See you there?

Meetings – Reminding And Reporting

First the reminder: Tomorrow evening, Thursday 14th November, Hackney Unites are initiating their second community discussion about the future of Dalston. The meeting, open to all Dalston residents, is at 6:30pm at the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road. Full details can be found HERE.

And now the report. Following last weeks DSRA open meeting, Ben Collins has produced the following for all those unable to attend:

This meeting, held in a residents flat, was for residents new and established, to have the opportunity to meet face to face with active members of the DSRA. If anyone wishes for more detail on any of the items reported below, please do not hesitate to contact us via the comments link below this posting.

The Agenda covered:

1) Service Charges and the Budget

On the basis of current predictions our 2014-15 service charges look like going up significantly. Our current grievance over Consorts inaccurate and erratic budget setting remains unresolved, and as a result we are very suspicious about the way service charges are established for each of us. A key question for the DSRA is how common electricity costs are obtained (some buildings, for example, are costing thousands of pounds more than others for the electricity to run lifts and corridor lighting). There are also questions about building insurance costs, as well as water and cleaning charges. We remain concerned that concierge wage increases continue to be held up by Consort’s inability to establish a properly costed budget. Concierge wages are we are told, lower than average for London. Over the past year the DSRA ‘Finance Committee’ has repeatedly met with Consort officers in an attempt to establish transparency on costs and income, and agree a consultative approach on levels of expenditure. However, we remain frustrated by a lack of progress on Consorts behalf in getting the costings right. Our current service charges are, in effect, based on historical budget figures along with a sum added (or subtracted for some) according to very unclear criteria. Given this situation, a fresh ‘high level’ meeting between the DSRA committee and Consort’s new Senior Operations Manager, J0-Ann Deeks, was arranged to clarify our concerns and call for urgent action. This face to face meeting was held on November the 7th with three DSRA Committee members present.

(Stop Press: The meeting with Jo-Ann Deeks on Thursday did result in a fresh acknowledgement by a senior Consort Officer that the company was not managing residents’ interests to a satisfactory standard. Promise was given of a fresh drive to focus on areas of poor delivery. There was also acknowledgement of poor budget setting practices, and poor communications with the Association and wider residents. It was acknowledged that greater support and supervision of the site management team in Dalston was needed. That the site manager was working very hard was not in question, however, he and his teem were working with an evolving situation and too often stretched to the point in which the site team was unable to maintain a good service. Changes were promised. We will see what this means in time!)

2) Buildings Maintenance and Repairs

It was noted that the long list of repair items was now shortening (however by no means eradicated!). The main issues were:

a) Restaurant foul air extraction
With the new restaurants opening the issue of foul air ventilation needed addressing by Barratt. Emails had been exchanged with Barratt about the restaurant kitchen odours and smoke that waft along the service tunnel, into lift shafts, and even into flats. The DSRA has received verbal promises from Barratt that a new ventilation system is to be installed to take odours directly out of the building and up to roof level.

b) The flood problem in the basement garage
This remains a big problem. There seems to be drips from the drain pipes running below the building in several places. Also water may be coming up through the basement slab itself. Furthermore, that water is not draining away as their are no drains at basement floor level. Water levels can prevent access to cars after periods of heavy rain. The DSRA has persistently chased this issue up with Barratt. Barratt are aware and claim they are pursuing the matter as a priority issue. We will keep on at them! Individual residents should complain directly to Barratt Customer Care (0208 522 5500). It was noted that phases 2 and 3 buildings are not well represented on the DSRA ‘Buildings Committee’. We were pleased to have a new volunteer join that committee.

Other issues on the ‘to do’ list, include sorting our bicycle security, clarifying cleaning schedules, and the provision for the redecorating of corridor and lobby walls. Warnings on unsightly balcony contents, and the provision of proper garden maintenance where also touched on. Some of these are ongoing, but need discussion and decisions to be made. Any resident who wishes to join this committee is most welcome. Contact us!

3) Christmas Social

Finally, our concern to remain a fun loving association led us to discuss a winter/Christmas social event. It was agreed that we should aim for an indoors event this year. Two members volunteered to research some indoor venues that could serve food and drink. The idea of a buffet meal in a local cafe space seemed to be favoured. Any one wanting to help organise such an event, please contact us, again via the comments section below this posting. Cafe Route is being approached as a possible venue. Watch this space!


‘Smooth You’ Residents Parties

After their soft launch over the last couple of weeks, Smooth You (the amazing new spa that has opened beneath Dekker and Burke) are now ready to host the parties (yes, plural!) they promised, exclusively for Dalston Square residents. Get a tour of the facilities, watch hair and beauty demos, take advantage of special one-off deals on treatments, enjoy canapes supplied by Cafe Route, washed down with a glass of bubbly or a soft drink, and collect your free goody bag! Just be sure to RSVP beforehand to let them know which day you wish to attend. Invites have been posted out to everyone but here below are the details again, just in case (click the thumbnails to see the full-size images). And one other thing: Do you live in one of the apartments on the 2nd or 3rd floor of Gaumont Tower that looks out over the Square? If yes, would you allow Smooth You’s photographer access to your balcony to take a few snaps of the spa’s exterior? If yes again, pop in and speak to Katie and you will receive a free treatment as a little thank-you.

And speaking of Cafe Route, Did you know they have launched their new lunch menu (new dinner menu coming very soon)? I have just one thing to say: Baked sweet potato with pulled lamb. Yum! 😉

Smooth front Smooth back


Meeting Location Correction: Now Gaumont Tower

My apologies all, the meeting is NOT in the Library after all. It is instead to be held in Gaumont Tower. Simply visit the concierge team and they will direct you to the appropriate apartment. Sorry for any confusion.