A website & blog for residents (and neighbours) of Dalston Square

Dalston Square

Le Ziz

Dear Residents,

If you are unhappy with the way Le Ziz Restaurant is further encroaching into the square with its tables and wind breaks, and generally think it looks a bit tatty and lets the square down, you can write to Councillor Peter Snell to voice your opinion. The council have a responsibility to maintain the integrity of the square. The more voices we have the more likely the council will listen and respond. So please get in touch!

Thank you

DSRA

Peter snell email: Peter.Snell@hackney.gov.uk


Outdoor Gym, Circle Housing, DS Responsibilities

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

holly2christmas-animated-elfholly

 


Dalston Square Residents’ Winter Get-together

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?

Poster

 


Phase I Restaurant Odour Extraction

For many months now Ben Collins, DSRA Chair, has been working on the issue of phase I restaurant odours working their way up in to the residential areas of most of the phase I blocks. He has attended multiple meetings with Barratt Homes, Consort Property Management, and various different departments of Hackney Council, as well as writing umpteen emails and making many phone calls. Progress is slow, but there is progress and Ben has written us a report on just how things are going. Before that though, a little background: The problem, for those unaware of the whats and whys, is that it was not originally envisaged that all of the commercial units would become eating establishments and so no proper kitchen extraction system was put in place during construction. The system that has been retro-fitted is therefore totally unsuitable for purpose: Rather than an extraction system that vents odours above roof level (the correct way of doing it), all of the restaurants simply pump their kitchen odours in to the communal service tunnel that runs the full length of phase I. From there those odours are finding their way in to lobbies, lift shafts, up to even the highest floors, and when wind conditions are just right, in to people’s apartments. Clearly this is not acceptable, hence Ben’s work to find a solution.

Here then is Ben’s report:

The Dalston Square Residents’ Association is aware of the frustratingly slow progress on reducing the restaurant kitchen odours that pervade our buildings and flats. We are chasing Barratt Homes to install proper extraction units in the building. The DSRA will continue to take this issue seriously and is in constant touch with our councillors and Hackney Council Pollution Unit.

The good news is that Ms Jackson, officer at Hackney Council’s Pollution Unit is taking this matter seriously, and has been pursuing both Barratt Homes and the Council’s planning department (who need to agree whatever alterations to extractions systems are needed) to resolve the issue. We are told that Barratt Homes are due to submit plans for an improved extraction unit to the council’s planning department in the near future.

The Pollution Department has received many emails of complaint from residents. These emails have helped that department impress upon Barratt Homesthat there is serious concern and the matter must be addressed.

The bad news is that ‘patience’ is the name of the game. The wheels of both Barratt’s engineers and the Council’s planning department work slowly. We could be looking at months rather than weeks to see any action on this issue. However the DSRA and the Council’s Pollution Unit are on the case and will keep you updated on progress over the coming weeks and months.

Of course this does not mean that a resolution on odours is guaranteed. Pressure from residents will ensure the matter is kept alive (and the more residents the better), and you are encouraged to continue to report any high levels of restaurant kitchen odours that cause you concern, to Barratt Homes customer service department (online complaint form/020 8522 5500), as well as the council’s Pollution Unit (pollutionsupport@hackney.gov.uk/020 8356 4455).

That’s that then: We will keep you posted on progress via this website.

While I have your attention, just a couple of reminders on upcoming events. Firstly, the Crossrail2 public consultation meetings are next week (see the post over at our forum HERE for more details). It is in every Dalston resident’s interest to try to win the route over Hackney Central so your support is greatly needed. Secondly, this coming Saturday (July 12th) sees the next public event in the square. ‘A Hackney Motley’ is an event that kick-starts what the council are calling ‘Hackney Archive Residency’. If you have an interest in local history this is a must. More info can be found HERE. Lastly, while the council lays on these public events completely free of charge, they have put out a call for volunteers to assist in prepping the Square for them when needed (erecting the purpose made tent/canopy, a 3 man job, for instance). My previous call for volunteers resulted in not one single volunteer. Come on neighbours, surely we can do better than that! Contact me at dalstonsquarera@gmail.com if you can spare an occasional half hour on a Saturday, and I will pass your details on to the council as possibly being able to help (no-one is expected to be available every time). Thanks in advance.


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


‘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


Dalston Square’s Cookin’

….Starts here. 😉

With with post, we are asking for your help in the shape of feedback. Over the past month there have been, as I am sure you are all fully aware, 4 film screenings in the Square by The Lost Picture Show, as part of the Dalston Children’s Festival. To accompany the screenings, small-scale barbecue catering was made available, selling beef (half was halal) and veggie burgers. This was basically a test-run to see if this was something that could be rolled out during other screening events, without causing a nuisance to residents. Before getting the go-ahead, a surprising number of factors were looked at: Everything from ensuring the food providers were registered with the council’s food safety department, to hygiene issues, to cooking smells swirling around the Square (not much chance of that with the Square’s wind-tunnel effect), to fire risk.

The grounds for providing catering are fairly clear: To add to the sense of fun and draw extra participants to the event, as a test to see if food provision is even popular, and as a revenue stream to help subsidise these free-to-attend events as the council are keen to provide more involvement with film club members (costumes, activities etc.) which,of course, all costs money.

So please let us know your opinion. Good idea? Was the catering a nuisance to you? Were there any issues that showed themselves after the event? Maybe just a complete success? Let us hear the good and bad (hopefully all good). This is your chance to have a say regarding events planned for ‘your’ Square. If reading this through email, simply click on the blue ‘Comment’ button at the bottom of the email. If reading this on the website, the comment button is in the small print immediately below this post. We look forward to hearing from you.

More news coming very soon.


Holy Trinity School Consultation

I have been contacted by Sophie Hoskin of Telford Homes with details of an upcoming drop-in event planned for Wednesday 3rd April from 4pm – 8pm. This is the last of 5 events that have happened over the last 4 months or so that allows local residents to view the plans for the proposed development which will greatly enhance the facilities of the school and provide 101 new homes. And with representatives from ‘The Team’ (hopefully the school, Telford Homes, and the architects), this will be your last opportunity to ask questions before Hackney Council’s planning committee make their decision as to whether to give this project the green light. I would like to think that residents of the Square will be receiving flyers in their post boxes, but just in case, you can click the thumbnails below for full details.

school flyer


Security And Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) On Dalston Square

Hi all. A note from Chris Rivinus, Vice-Chair of the DSRA:

Dear Fellow Resident,

The Dalston Square Residents’ Association are working with the Dalston Square Development Manager, Sean Stone, to make improvements to how various security and ASB-related issues are managed. Accordingly we’d like to ask you to help us determine whether or not you feel the efforts are working by taking a simple 6 question survey. You will find the survey online by clicking HERE.

We will use your answers to take a pulse of how residents feel now, and follow up later this year with another survey to see if residents feel progress has been made. Filling out the survey should take you less than 5 minutes and will help steer efforts to address these areas.

Regards,

Dalston Square Residents Association

As Chris said, this survey will take than 5 minutes so please help us out by sharing your opinions. Many thanks.


Consort Meeting Reminder

Just a quick reminder that the meeting, arranged by Consort to explain the continuing rise in our annual service charges, is this evening at 6.30pm in the C.L.R. James Library, here in the Square. This is your opportunity to hear what Consort have to say, and to put your questions directly to the team who calculate these charges. As owners you need to be there to hear why our charges will rise again this coming financial year (2013/14) despite rises, in some cases, of close to 300% over the last 4 years (based on actual charges for 2012/13 against estimates given at time of purchase). As renters you need to be there to support owners, as continued cost increases will inevitably lead to higher rents. I realise the timing may be awkward for some who will still be commuting home at that time of the early evening, but please attend if you can.


Last Of 2012

Hello all, one last post before year’s end. Firstly, we have a date, venue, and agenda for the next general meeting of the Residents’ Association. Thursday, 10th January, 7.00pm, in the meeting room of the C.L.R. James Library here on the Square. As always, the meeting is open to all residents of the Square, renters and owners alike, and will likely last for 90 mins or so. The agenda is as follows:

1) The Residents’ Association – Who is it? What has it achieved? Where next?

2) Consort service charges, present and future – Value for money?

3) Planning applications for the Square – Issues of common concern.

4) Right to manage initiative (changing the management company) – Progress report.

5) Progress on our ‘good neighbourliness’ campaign – Improving the quality of life in and around the Square.

6) Any other business.

Next up, an update on the public space of the Square itself. I am sure I am not alone in welcoming the opening of the next section of the Square this last Thursday. The hoarded section in the middle of the newly opened area is an electricity sub station that will be moved in the new year and so that will soon disappear. The area of grass is also temporary: This is what will become the children’s play area, but it extends slightly beyond the new hoarding line into Barrat’s site hut area and so has been turfed as a temporary measure. When Barrat open up the last section of the Square next spring, the grass will be removed and the play area constructed. Also coming in the spring is the water feature. Comprised of 9 synchronised water jets the feature is already in place (you can see the 9 metal discs, the jets, embedded in the paving) but will not be turned on until after the winter weather is behind us. Barrat’s latest estimate for completion of the public space is June 2013.

Just one last thing to say….

Merry-Christmas