Have you ever felt that the Square could be enlivened? Do you want to help create a sense of community? A sense of things going on in the Square on those warm summer days?Lucy McMenemy the energetic Hackney Arts and Culture coordinator and driver is keen to hear from residents in the Square.
Join in and make yourself heard!
Please be advised that the public screening of a film in Dalston Square this evening, to celebrate the launch of the Hackney Film Club’s ‘Turkey East Asia Season’, has been postponed. Weather forecasters have warned of the chance of high winds and rain for this evening so the performance has been provisionally rescheduled for May 23rd. That date coincides with the World Food Market’s wish to be in the square so avenues need to be explored to determine if both events can run concurrently. To that end there is a meeting within the council this coming week, and I should be able to get back to you all with an update soon thereafter.
Further to my last post I have two updates to share with you all.
Dalston Square Culture and Community Engagement Forum
Dalston Square World Food Market
I now have more concrete dates for the proposed market: Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd May, with trading from 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 6pm on the Saturday. You will notice that this is somewhat longer than the originally proposed 3 day market, but with such short hours it seems unlikely to cause any problems to residents (other than the problem of deciding what yumminess to partake of of course). If anyone has concerns, please leave them in the comments section immediately below this post (if you are reading this via email, simply hit ‘Reply’) and I will share them with the relevant person at Hackney Council. All comments need to be in by the close of business this Friday please.
Proposed Rhodes Estate Outdoor Gym
We have been contacted by our local councillor, Peter Snell, to see if we can help our neighbours in the Rhodes Estate (the estate to our East on the other side of Beechwood Road) with a project that will also be to our benefit. Working with The Great Outdoor Gym Company, the Rhodes Estate Tenants & Residents’ Association is aiming to procure and install outdoor gym equipment of a type that is becoming popular throughout London. They believe that beyond the obvious health benefits, the equipment will also strengthen community ties (the equipment will be available to locals beyond the bounds of Rhodes Estate), thus also boosting security and making the area a safer place to live in. Knowing of our own residents’ gym, and believing it was staffed with fitness professionals, we have been asked if we could give input to ensure the range of equipment they install will offer a balanced exercise routine. Lacking those on-site professionals my question is this: Do we have any fitness professionals in residence in the square who could help, or do any of those who bring personal trainers to the gym with them believe their trainer would be willing to offer some advice? If yes, please contact me at DalstonSquareRA@gmail.com and I will put you/them in touch with the Rhodes Estate team.
Circle Housing 2015 Service Charges
While it is still a mystery how they can produce them before receiving costings from the development management company (Consort), it seems Circle Housing have started issuing service charge bills to their tenants for next year. Unfortunately it seems that there have been some errors in their calculations and some residents have received bills that are greatly in excess of what they should be (over 50% higher in at least one case we have heard of). If you have received your bill and you believe it to be higher than it should be, please contact Circle Housing and ask them to check the figures: Do not contact Consort as they will not be able to help you.
Who Is Responsible For What, In & Around Dalston Square
It seems there is still some confusion regarding who is responsible for what, in and around the square. To help alleviate this confusion I have made a post over at our discussions forum that will hopefully clear this up once and for all: It can be found HERE.
One Last Thing
Not much needed with regard explanation I believe, but just to say that, continuing the tradition of trying to bring Dalston Square’s residents together, the DSRA is pleased to announce it’s Winter/Christmas social event. Check out the poster below (give the thumbnail a click), and soon on your block’s noticeboard. A chance to meet a neighbour or 3, and meet some of the folk that attend meetings as representatives of the DSRA (pursuing causes in the name of all residents). Meeting in the wood-burning-stove heated greenhouse of the Eastern Curve Garden on Dalston Lane, we offer you a chance to meet and say ‘Hi’ to a few of the faces (residents/neighbours ) often seen here in the square. The Garden’s cafe serves tea, coffee, herbal drinks, beer, cider, wine, and their own fresh lemonade and sodas. Thy also sell some food items but Marie from the garden management team has said it is fine to bring along our own snacks and treats, just please use the bar for drinks. There is a chance (no promises here) that freshly made pizza will be available too, but do not rely on it.
See you there?
Keeping Your Doors Locked
Back in June of 2012, after a series of burglaries here in the square, I made a post to explain the system used by the thieves and remind residents to keep their apartment doors locked at all times. After what appears to be a gang operating in the exact same manner struck Sledge Tower last week, it seems it is time for a reminder. The initial problem is one I commented on in my last post: Residents who continue to allow people to tail-gate them through building entrance doors (if someone tries to follow you into your block, ask to see their fob: No fob, no entry). Once inside the building, the burglars take the elevator to the top floor, then start making their way back down again trying every apartment door as they go. When they find one unlocked, they walk in, bold as brass as if they own the place. If someone is home they apologise profusely, explaining they must of got off on the wrong floor and leave again. If no-one is home, they quickly scan for and take small, portable valuables (laptops, tablets, and phones are particularly vulnerable). In one instance 2 years ago, one resident came out of the bathroom to find they had been burgled.
So please neighbours, keep your apartment door(s) locked at all times, whether you are home or not, and keep yourself and your possessions safe. One last comment on the subject, and a response to the resident that once said to me that they did not understand why they had to lock themselves in. You are not locked in, you are free to leave any time you like: You are locking everyone else out.
Littering From Balconies
Again this is an issue that we have covered before, and again it seems a reminder is necessary. Please do not throw litter from your balcony. Mostly it seems the issue is (though not limited to) people who, rather than use an ashtray when smoking on their balconies, simply flick their ash, and eventually their cigarette butt, over the rail (or out of the window in the case of phase 1 winter gardens). Please just spare a thought for your neighbours below who have to a) keep an eye skyward for falling debris, and b) clean up your mess. Disgusting behaviour: Really disgusting.
Dalston Futures & The Eastern Curve Garden
As many of you will be aware, the latest threat to the popular Eastern Curve Garden has receded since plans for the redevelopment of Kingsland Shopping Centre have been withdrawn. But that does not mean it is safe from future plans. In an attempt to make it harder for developers for get their hands on this beautiful, community treasure, Dalston Futures are attempting to get the garden registered as an ‘asset of community value’. If successful, it would give the community a ‘community right to bid’: Should the owner wish to dispose of the land, the community must be given an opportunity to raise money to secure the land before it is sold. It does not of itself guarantee that the site will be saved and retained, but it does create an additional opportunity for the community to prevent unwanted development, and create a disincentive to developers. For more info on the campaign and how to be involved, plus their other upcoming projects, click HERE.
Two Free Tickets To Give Away
Thanks to Dalston Square resident Judith, I am in possession of 2 tickets to ‘Saturday brunch with The Guide’ (details of the event can be found HERE) this coming Saturday (Sept. 27th) at Rotorino on Kingsland Road here in Dalston (event runs from 10.30am until 1,30pm). Having purchased the tickets (an £80 value for the 2) Judith and her partner find they are now unable to attend so, rather than leave the tickets unused, they would like to give them away: Very generous I am sure you will all agree. Here then is what I will do: If you are a Dalston resident and are interested in receiving them, send an email to DalstonSquareRA@gmail.com with the heading ‘Yes Please’ and your postcode and name (just your christian name is fine) as the message. On Thursday afternoon I will select one at random and contact you for your full address so I can deliver them to you (I will only deliver them to the Dalston postcode contained in your email – collection or alternate addresses will not be allowed). This is the fairest way I can think of doing it to ensure they go to a Dalston neighbour. Good luck everyone.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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.
A couple of weeks have passed since I promised an update on the completion of the Square and apologise for not getting back to you sooner. Basically, things should be wrapped up(ish) by the end of the year. Sledge Tower is, as you will know, now complete, and Joplin House, the last block that will complete the development, should be finished by the middle of November. Once that is complete, the Barratt site huts will be moved out of the Square (with the remaining tradesmen moving into the offices behind the Barratt sales office) and the remaining public area will be finished off. The sales office will continue to be manned until January, at which point, with the completion of building works, the tradesmen will depart, as will the sales staff who will be moving on to a new Barratt development over Islington way. For those of you who know Richard in the sales office (who has been manning the office from day one of it’s opening), you will be glad to hear he is to become a resident of the Square and so will not be leaving us completely.
With regard the commercial units around the Square, the biggest news is probably the imminent opening of the Smooth You Town Spa in the double unit beneath Burke and Dekker. As you will no doubt have seen, work is well underway and should be finished by the end of November(ish). They have advised us, via our Twitter feed (@DalstonSquareRA), that as well as a general public launch party, an invitation-only party for residents is also being planned (more details as soon as I have them). The only other definite news is the recent signing (2 weeks ago) of contracts for the unit to the left of the Barratt sales office (the one with the Cafe Rica graphic in the window). No confirmation yet on who has taken it, but no doubt we will hear soon.
There is also news regarding the Holy Trinity School saga. A date has now been set for the GLA (Mayor Boris Johnson’s office) public meeting: 19th November. All those that made representations to the Hackney Council hearing on this development will be contacted 14 days before the new hearing with details of how they can be involved if they wish to. You will be pleased to know that the group of concerned Square residents who campaigned so brilliantly the first time around will again be active on our behalf. While the idea of expanding the school and creating much-needed places is to everyone’s benefit, the plans as they stand were rejected for very good reasons and we can but hope that Mayor Johnson and his representatives will support Hackney Council in their original rejection of the plans as they stand.
One last thing to mention, yet another new development has become public. Some residents have received a letter from Hackney Council regarding development of 514 – 600 Kingsland Road. This is the strip of retail units from, and including, the noodle bar on the corner with Dalston Lane, right down to, and including, Oxfam on the corner of Forest Road. Details are very sketchy but Square resident Kevin (forum post HERE if you have further info to share) found an online reference to it that mentioned buildings of 7, 10, 18, and 19 stories. Apparently plans are available for viewing at the Hackney Service Centre. A quick look at the DAAP (Hackney Council’s own Dalston Area Action Plan) shows that ‘opportunity sites’ on Kingsland only exist north of the Balls Pond Road/Dalston Lane junction. I will pass on more info on this and all other proposed developments in our neighbourhood as I receive them.
I think that is it for now: All up to date. Have a good week all!
We have been contacted by Hackney Unites, the organisation that put on the Dalston People’s Festival earlier in the year. Following on from that success, they are to hold an open meeting, at 6.30pm on 17th October at the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road, to discuss the future of our neighbourhood. More specifically, they are looking to create a permanent, inclusive, community organisation in Dalston that is capable of identifying its collective needs and organising to ensure that decision-makers cannot ignore the community. This can only be a good thing, and is surely something residents of the Square need to support and be involved in. For full details of the meeting and how to attend/participate/get involved, follow THIS LINK. Following the link will also give you access to a survey they are conducting that they are asking all Dalston residents to complete. It will only take a few minutes so please do give it a go.
Think you may attend the meeting? Feel able to represent the Dalston Square Residents’ Association? If you can attend the meeting, takes notes, and report back to Ben Collins, chair of the DSRA, please drop him a line at email@example.com.
Hello neighbours. Just a quick post to point out some recent FORUM postings. Firstly a couple of things from Lucy McMenemy, Cultural Programme Officer at Hackney Council and the lady who organises the free events the council lays on in the Square. The first of these is the minutes of the latest meeting of the cultural forum HERE (scroll to the bottom of the thread), the second is the electronic version of their newsletter, NUMBER 2, that has been mailed out to all Dalston Square residents recently. One thing to add: The printed version has a note in red about the junior cricket sessions being postponed until the barriers are removed from around the fountains. Well, as you will have noticed, these are now gone and so the cricket is back on, every other Monday, until August 19th (it was back today but I was unable to get this post out until it was too late. My sincere apologies). And talking of the fountains, you may have already heard that an event may be planned to celebrate the official switching on. This was proposed by a Dalston Square resident and Lucy agrees this is a great idea. Once dates are confirmed, we will announce the details.
The other FORUM posts I want to bring to your attention are the latest notices from Consort. The first of these is partly relevant to all residents (and partly just to Phase 2) and can be found HERE, the other is only relevant to Phase 2 residents (Thomas through to Ocean), covering several topics, and can be found HERE.
And that’s your lot for now. I will be creating a forum post very soon to bring everyone up to date on the many developments we are aware of that are in planning for Dalston, and will advertise said post here when it is complete. Until then, take care, and enjoy the summer (while it lasts).