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

Hackney Council

Dalston Ward Forum

Just a short post to advertise the next Dalston Ward Forum, which gives all local residents the opportunity to engage with their (your) elected councillors Peter Snell and Soraya Adejare. The next meeting of the forum is to be held on Wednesday March 25th from 7pm until 9pm at Arcola’s Studio 5, just 50m from the main Arcola entrance (yes that is tomorrow, apologies for the short notice). Full details of the forum and the meeting agenda can be found on Hackney Council’s website HERE. Peter, in particular, has shown a keen interest in Dalston Square and the work of the DSRA (he has attended a number of meetings with us), and has worked on our behalf to help us engage with the local council to address a number of issues we feel need attention around the square (the restaurant ventilation issue in phase 1, the dead trees in the square, and maintenance of the podium area between Thomas and Sledge Towers, to mention just a few). Since his election last spring, Peter has an impressive 100% meeting attendance record in his role within Hackney Council, which is surely a good sign of his commitment to the ward.


The DSRA Working With Consort, Barratt, & Hackney Council

It has been a while since the last post but the DSRA has not been idle: quite the opposite! The issue is finding the time to not only attend meetings, but also to write reports, combine them with other info we think relevant, and then get it all out to you in a legible(ish) fashion. So happy new year everyone, and on with the backlog of news (sorry)!

DSRA Finance Committee

Uppermost in many lease-holder’s minds at this time of year is Consort’s budget for the coming financial year: This is the cost of managing the site which is paid for through twice-yearly bills to all Dalston Square lease-holders. Building on the excellent relationship the DSRA has already established with Consort  since their management and accountant changes this time last year, we have been in regular meetings with them over the last few months as Consort, in the name of transparency, explained budget items as they were added into the process. That budget has now been set and Consort will be sending out bills shortly with an explanation letter attached. In the meantime, this brief report from Jane Collins (who along with David Eastwood has put in many hours on behalf of the DSRA poring over spreadsheets and questioning Consort’s accountant on budgetary line items: I am sure all lease-holders will join me in saying a big thanks to you both):

The budget for 2015/16 is now agreed and invoices for the new financial year will be sent out by Consort over the coming days. There is an overall increase in the budget of 3.8%. The increases result from staff salary increases to bring site staff closer to the London Living Wage, and the need to increase reserves in some phases owing to redecoration costs. Some savings were achieved on individual budget items including window cleaning, door entry and plant and machinery contracts.

There is an increase in the management fee for all units, from £233 to £238 in the new financial year. This is lower than the increase originally proposed by Consort, following representations by DSRA.

There is very considerable variation in the Service Charge increases per unit, with most increases between 2.8% and 10%. The most significant differences are between phases, bringing the newer phases into line with the cost per square metre of phase 1.

If leaseholders have specific questions regarding their invoice they should contact site Manager Gerald Bernard (gerald.bernard@consortpm.co.uk) in the first instance, or Charlotte Perrott (charlotte.perrott@consortpm.co.uk)

DSRA Buildings & Maintenance Committee

We also recently held our regular quarterly meeting with Consort to discuss all buildings and maintenance issues, and were pleased to have representatives of Barratt Homes and Hackney Council able to accept our invitations to attend. With the co-operation of the other parties the DSRA maintains 3 separate logs: One each for Consort, Barratt, and the Council. Over the past year all 3 logs have been shrinking steadily in size as line items have been addressed and removed from the active log, and this last quarter was no exception. The updated copies of the 3 logs along with a written report from DSRA Chair Ben Collins are all available for download from the ‘Document Depository’ in the ‘Residents Only’ section of our discussions forum HERE. If that link does not work for you, you need to read THIS thread. After reading that, register for forum membership HERE (a simple 2 minute process), then make an application HERE (again very straight-forward, just follow the other examples).

It has been said before but I will say it again: Any/all residents are welcome to attend any meeting (although space dictates numbers at some point of course). Please just let us know beforehand so we can bring you up to speed on what has been previously discussed, to save wasting valuable meeting time on repeating previous discussions. Buildings & Maintenance meetings generally start around midday (but as early as 11.00am) midweek, and can go on for a couple of hours or more. Finance meetings tend to start at 6pm, again midweek, and can go on for an hour and a half or more.

I have a few other brief items of news but will save them for a second post: These meetings are the more important updates I feel, but I do not want this post to get too long.

To be continued…..


The Playground, Dalston Forum, Free Tickets, And Artistic Interpretation

The Dalston Square Playground

After a number of recent queries regarding the status of the playground I have been in touch with Dalston Town Centre Manager Cory Defoe for an update. There has been some delay in getting confirmation that the pieces residents voted for are suitable for the constraints of the site, and a quote for their supply and installation (apologies from the supplier), but Cory is on the case and will keep us informed of progress.

Dalston Forum

Those of you who follow local politics may be interested to know that our 2 elected ward councillors (Peter Snell & Soraya Adejare of the Labour party were the winners of last May’s local elections), are holding their September Forum in the Eastern Curve Garden greenhouse this coming Monday (29th September). Planned to run from 6.30pm to 8.30pm this Forum is local residents’ chance to hear what is happening, and to hold the council to account. The agenda for this meeting will cover i) Work in progress on pre-election pledges ii) An update on other major developments in Dalston iii) The Dalston Conservations Area (members of the Conservation Area Advisory Committee will report on progress, their concerns, and how you can support their work to protect historic buildings in central Dalston). Forum meetings are open to all members of the public. The 2 pages of Hackney Matters, a publication produced by Peter Snell, can be found at the foot of this posting: Simply click on each thumbnail for the full-size image.

Artistic Interpretation

Speaking of historic buildings and the Eastern Curve Garden, how fabulous is the newly renovated Hackney Peace Carnival Mural? To celebrate the completion of the work and removal of the scaffold the Eastern Curve Garden are holding a free party this coming Sunday (28th September) from 2pm to 10pm. There will be music from local musicians, talks with the mural artists, a children’s art workshop, and food from the People’s Kitchen. The thumbnails below include their party advertising poster plus my own photo of the beautifully renovated mural.

And whilst on the subject of art, look out for the new window graphics that will be going up at Smooth You (the beauty and health spa here in the square) later today. The existing advertising graphics have not been loved by Dalston Square residents and were never meant to be long-term: They were only ever a brash, eye catching advertising statement to promote a new business. Smooth You founder/owner Patrick and Managing Director Katie were looking for something that both better represented the company image and gave something to the community so, working with Dalston Square resident and graphic designer & artist Stephen Humphries (who has recently started his own business so if you are in need of such services….), and illustrator Christina K., they have created a bespoke piece of art to ‘tell a story’. Katie tells me the plan is to renew the graphic each year to keep it ‘fresh’ so if you like what they are doing, why not pop your head in the door when passing and let them know what you think.

Free Ticket Draw Result

Thanks to everyone who sent in their ‘Yes Please’ email to claim the 2 tickets for tomorrow’s ‘Brunch With The Guide’ event (and, of course, again to Judith for sharing them in the first place). The lucky winner was Dalston Square resident Louise (Louise, please check your email). For fellow geeks who may be interested, I used an online, range definable, RNG to select the recipient. Unlike many such generators that use pseudo-random number algorithms, THESE guys use atmospheric noise to create randomness: Very cool.

Forum 1 Forum 2 Party Dalston Peace Carnival Mural


Replacement Equipment For The Dalston Square Playground

I have today received, from Cory Defoe (Dalston Town Centre Manager), images of 7 potential replacements for the 3 pieces that were recently removed from the square’s play area. Cory, as previously promised, would like to hear the opinions of residents as to which 3 pieces we feel would be the most suitable replacements. To see the choices head over to our forum and the thread I have created for this very purpose HERE. It would be most helpful if you could leave your selections and opinions at the forum (so they are all in one place), but if you do not have the time to register, a very simple 2 minute procedure (although anyone can read the threads, registration is required to reply to them), feel free to go ahead and leave your response here on the website (if you are reading this as an email simply reply to the email, or, if you are reading this on the website itself, click the ‘Comments’ link immediately below this post). Cory is looking to get things rolling asap so please get your opinion up as soon as you can: If Cory gets no responses, he will have to go ahead and make the decision himself. Just one thing to bear in mind: What we are looking for is equipment that appeals to young kids, but NOT to late-night revellers (who may decide to detour via the square on the weekends after turning out of the clubs for some late-night amusements at the expense of our sleep), so take that in to consideration when making your choice.


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


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


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


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?

Hackney Council Wants Your Opinion

If you follow our Twitter feed you may have seen, back in July, a tweet about Hackney Council considering nominating Dalston as a special policy area (SPA). In short, this can help limit the growth in the number of licensed premises in areas that already have a high concentration of them, and helps the council determine how best to work with licensees and the police to manage the impact of these areas on local residents, visitors, and other businesses.

As I say, this is currently just a proposal, and to help them make a decision whether to go ahead or not the council are looking for input from local residents. Follow this link HERE to read more about what exactly a SPA is, then follow the link near the bottom of that page to complete a short survey as a means to having your say on the proposal.

This is where I must apologise because you only have one more week to take the survey: It closes on October 18th. This is my fault entirely (well, partly an email issue, partly a communication issue between Christine, who runs our Twitter feed, and myself, but basically me). New routines are now in place so hopefully this will not happen again. Sorry all.

While I have your attention, keep your eyes peeled for a post in a day or two with details of the Christmas market that will be held in the Square on December 1st. It is going to be something really special and will definitely put Dalston Square on the map.

Still here? Go do the survey already! 😉


Completion Of The Square Plus Other Development Plans

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!


Summer Round-Up & DSRA Autumn Get-Together

Hello again. Here, as promised, is a general update of what the DSRA have been up to over the summer months. This report has been compiled by DSRA Chair, Ben Collins:

What’s happening with the Dalston Square Residents Association?

The DSRA  committees have been active on your behalf. We know that the first years of a new development are the time to get things right. There have been many strange accounting procedures and building glitches which we have pursued.

The following are brief reports from the two committees that have been active over the summer.

The Finance Committee

Ever since the first blocks were occupied, residents have been unhappy about the way in which Consort calculates and presents its budget. There have been a string of errors followed by increasing costs. Whether you pay for these via your rent, or directly via your service charges to Consort, these costs are passed on and there have been some inexplicable and rapid rises for some buildings.

The DSRA has this year called for Consort to publish its budget and explain it to our finance committee. We have been dismayed that, despite several meetings, the management company has still not sorted out its common electricity costs. Some buildings appear to have electricity costs running up to ten times more than others with no explanation given. As this report goes to press the DSRA has just met again with the Consort regional manager to insist the issue be sorted out.

The Buildings Sub-Committee

Progress on getting the many construction glitches around the Square sorted out is more positive in as much as Barratt appear to be taking our request seriously, and in the last few months have been pushing hard for the Square’s high standards to be maintained.

Trees have been replanted and watered, broken bricks, gutters, and paving slabs replaced, and planters looked after. Some improvement to bike storage has been agreed, although there appears to be a limit to what is possible. The sheeting on the canopy over Blue Street (the passageway between the library and Gaumont Tower) will be replaced soon. We have also worked to ensure street and gutter cleaning is maintained by Barratt, while awaiting full hand-over to Hackney Council. The Council is currently only cleaning the area at the top end of the Square, by the library.

As far as we know, two new eating establishments are expected to occupy ground floor retail spaces in the Phase 1 buildings on the east of the Square. Kitchen air extraction will need attention: Those living in Gaumont Tower are currently getting a fair dose of smell coming into their lobby and lift shafts and the current fan system is not adequate. We have pressed Barratt for a review of the system. Another issue brought to Barratt’s attention is the lack of  both windows and ventilation in the office of Consort Site Manager Sean Stone: They have promised a window and ventilator. We will continue to chase them on both of these issues.

Door security remains a worry, with occasional tampering causing the lock systems to be damaged. We have insisted on daily checks to ensure security is maintained and ask that residents report any questionable locking or damage to any front door, to the concierge in Gaumont Tower, as soon as possible.

Threat To The Eastern Curve Garden

Things are a-stirring with plans to make the land currently occupied by the Eastern Curve Garden into a thoroughfare as set out in the Dalston Area Action Plan. The DSRA met with the developer and architect some weeks back and impressed upon them that the loss of this much-loved community space and garden would be resisted by local residents. Since then, expressions of concern to Councillors have been flowing in, but it is important, if you feel the garden should be kept into the future, for you too to contact the council to express your support of the garden: There is currently no guarantee it will be there in a year’s time.

Cultural Events In The Square

Hackney Council have set up a local Forum for residents to contribute ideas and express views about what events should happen in the Square (minutes of past meetings of this group are available for download from the ‘What’s On’ section of our FORUM HERE). We note that on the week-end of the 28th and 29th of September there is the following event:

House of Amau summer weekend – Saturday 28 September, 11am – 8pm, including steel drum workshop 3pm – 4.30pm.
 Sunday 29 September, 11am – 7pm, including African drumming workshop 3pm – 4.30pm.

Look out for stalls selling a wide variety of books, including works by the African Caribbean Writers Group.

If you want to get involved (and we need resident volunteers) in helping to plan next summer’s Dalston Square events, contact Lucy McMenemy via the Dalston Square dedicated page of the Hackney Council website HERE. This link is also in our link-list in the right-hand column of our website’s homepage, and will keep you abreast of all council-planned events that are coming to the Square.

That’s all for now. I do have some info on the commercial units in the Square as well as an update from Barratt regarding their schedule for finishing up in the Square, but will save that for a post in a few days. Until then, have a good week. 😉

Oops, nearly forgot: Did I mention that the DSRA have their autumn get-together planned for next Sunday, 29th September? 5.30pm until 7.00pm followed by a fountain switch-on in the Square at 7.15. This flier says it all:

Autumn Get-tog


Planned Events And Consort Notices

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).


Sub-Committee Reports

Hello again. Firstly, thanks to those who left us feedback after the last post. You will notice that the first comment was from Lucy McMenemy, Cultural Programme Officer for Hackney Coucil, so you know your voices will been heard. Surely there must be others with an opinion?

This post, as referenced by the title, will give reports from 3 of our sub-committees: ASB, Buildings & Maintenance, and Finance.

ASB – Chris Rivinus has produced a comprehensive document, available for download from the DSRA-specific section of the forum HERE, which contains a review of the last 4 to 5 months of this groups activities, including a summary of progress against the ASB action plan established early this year, and a note from Sean Stone in response to the ASB/Security survey conducted some weeks ago now (results from this survey are also available for download in the same forum post).

Buildings & Maintenance – Jane Collins has produced a report for us on the latest meeting and issues facing this group. Again, this is available for download from the forum, HERE

Finance – Dave Eastwood and team are still working with Consort to finalise the budget for 2013/14. This from Dave:

‘The finance committee is continuing to work with Consort on the 13/14 budget, we had pre-meet with Consort on 6th June to discuss progress against outstanding actions, they were able to provide some clarification on a few items but unfortunately the 2013/14 budget is still not finalised. Consort have promised to update us on Friday 14th June with a date when this will be available for the committee to review, we will then arrange a finance committee meeting to clarify and challenge this. This will then be followed by a full residents meeting where Consort can present this budget to all residents. As soon as we have a draft budget we will arrange for this to be put up on the website.

Various members of the committee are also in the process of reviewing the actual spend since 2010 to check for any inconsistencies in invoicing and charges, this is a very detailed process so it is likely that this will take a while but will keep the RA updated with any major findings as these come to light.’

The only thing to add to Dave’s message is that contact was made on Friday as promised, and Consort have now promised to supply us with all budget info for 2013/14 before June 28th. Progress is slow, but we are getting there.

One last thing before I finish off, a new alert from Consort regarding cleaning of communal area carpeting throughout the Square in the Consort ‘Memos & Updates’ section of the forum HERE.

I believe that is it for now, but will of course keep you all up to date with progress on these and all other Dalston Square related issues as I become aware of them. Have a good week all.


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.


Proposed Developments In Dalston

Hi all. As promised I have a bunch of news and updates for you, but have decided that rather than bore you all with a monster long post, I will break it down into, probably, 3 posts of related topics. To get the ball rolling then is news of recent and upcoming development proposals that are close to home.

First off, the proposed development of the Holy Trinity School site at the south-east corner of Dalston Square. I have referred to this development several times over the last 6 months or so, and there are a couple of threads over at the forum (HERE and HERE) that document the work of a truly dedicated team of Dalston Square residents (who have been battling to stop Telford Homes’ ludicrous plans), and so will go no further into the details. The news though is the decision, decided at the council’s public planning meeting last Wednesday, that the application has been rejected. This is excellent news and proof that democracy and a well presented argument can still stop big developers in their tracks. Whilst plans to expand the existing school to provide much needed school places was generally accepted as a good idea, Telford’s attempt to use this as an excuse to build 101 apartments that would have seriously affected current and future residents of both Dalston Square and the Rhodes Estate, it was argued, was simply unacceptable. The application was rejected on the grounds of not sticking to the council’s own DAAP (Dalston Area Action Plan), and issues with the design of the proposed structure. After celebrations had died down, the Dalston Square team unanimously decided that an approach would be made to the principal of the school to see if any assistance could be offered with regard finding sources of funding that would allow the school to go ahead with expansion, without the need to involve big property developers. A magnanimous gesture I am sure you will agree.

Now though, there is a new cloud on the horizon. Ben Collins, as Chair of the DSRA, was recently approached by a consultancy with regard a pre-planning meeting on the proposed development of the Kingland Shopping Centre. If you are unfamiliar with this proposed development, Loving Dalston did a piece on it HERE, and Dalstonist covered the story HERE. More high-rises (up to 14 stories in places), more high-rent retail space (no doubt to be filled with the same chains you find on every high-street these days), a serious threat to Ridley Road market, and the loss of the Eastern Curve Garden are all on the drawing board. The DSRA is discussing where we go from here and will work on a plan to ensure that, as with the school development above, the interests of developers do not drive forward a project that is in the interest of neither local residents nor local businesses. If allowed to proceed as currently planned this would completely change the village we love. Watch this space for updates as the consultation process progresses and more details become available.

That’s it for this post, the next installment of news……..


Community Events In Dalston Square

Hi neighbours. Just wanted to pass on some news I have received from Lucy McMenemy, Cultural Programme Officer from Hackney Council. As you all know by now, the council has plans to make Dalston Square a focal point of the local community by laying on a wide range of events and activities. The news from Lucy comes in 3 parts: Firstly, posted to the forum are the minutes from the latest meeting of the Culture & Community Engagement Forum HERE (scroll down to the last post on the thread).

Secondly, a poster for the community wide project, Dalston Children’s Festival: A summer’s worth of events, to run throughout Dalston. Click on the thumbnail below this message to see it in full. Those of you who follow our Twitter feed (@DalstonSquareRA) will have seen us mentioning this already: If you have kids, get them out there and support this wonderful initiative. Saturday 25th May should be a great community gathering, if the weather is on our side, as it is the launch of the Dalston Children’s Festival and it is also the first night of the Dalston Square Cinema. The square will be temporarily transformed into a cinema by the Lost Picture Show, and the film programme has been been chosen by local teenagers. That night the film programme includes the 70’s hit musical Bugsy Malone.

Thirdly, in order to ensure that residents do not feel left out of the loop of what is going on in what many feel is their Square, Lucy’s team is to produce a newsletter, posted out to every residence in the Square, which will contain a full programme of events. The first edition will be with you shortly. Lucy apologises for the ‘corporate’ feel of this first edition, but assures us future editions will be better. For anyone who loses track of their copy, and for followers of this blog who do not live on the Square itself, I will be posting copies of this newsletter to our discussions forum for all to download. The first edition is available HERE.

One last thing before I leave you in peace: Don’t forget our Twitter feed at @DalstonSquareRA. Although these DSRA posts go out on it, 99% of our tweets are regarding the wider community: Everything from Hackney Council updates to pop-up restaurants to local community events. And if you tweet yourself, and know of something going on we have missed, tweet at us and we will re-tweet you!

That’s it for now folks, have a great weekend.

MW-Dalston-3.2


Latest Minutes Plus…

Good morning all (and a beautiful sunny morning it is too). Just a couple of updates/items of news to share with you. Firstly, some minutes of recent meetings for those unable to attend: The Consort chaired budget meeting of 19th March (held in the library) HERE, and the DSRA meeting of 21st April (held in the Bootstrap building in Ashwin St.) HERE. There will be more news regarding the issues raised in these, connected, meetings soon, but for now the minutes will give you the gist of what is going on. (As always, these files are hosted over at our discussions forum. Simply click the highlighted link to save a pdf copy of the document to your computer for your perusal. If you are unable to access the links, read THIS, and, if you qualify, follow it’s instructions HERE.)

Next up, something all mums and dads may be interested in. This from The Trinity Centre:

Dear All

Dalston has few public play spaces and we have been working to 
improve the Wards play provision for children. Not only have we been 
arguing for the new Dalston Square to be promoted as a place for 
children and families to gather, since the Beechwood Road Street party 
and the Council Play Street Policy we are keen for more streets to be 
adopted for play on a regular basis. Working with Play Out and the 
local play streets organizer for Hackney we are hosting a meeting next 
month to inform residents and parents on how to go about organizing 
streets for play in their area.

As well as being invited to the attached event could you please be so 
kind as to publicize it to your residents and members.

For further details check out their poster below (click on it to see it full-size).

Playout


Hackney Council Working On Our Behalf

In a sprawling city like London it is easy to forget that politics stays local through the borough councils. And after reading the recent reports regarding absenteeism in our own Hackney Council (see our recent Twitter posts @DalstonSquareRA) how reassuring it is to know that our representatives are listening to, and working for, residents here on the Square. For those not aware, Hackney is a Labour controlled Council, the Square is in Dalston Ward, and we are represented by 3 Labour Councillors: Michelle Gregory, Sophie Linden, and Angus Mulready-Jones (more info HERE if you are interested).

Why am I telling you all this? As many will by now be aware, plans have finally been submitted to the council for the redevelopment of the Holy Trinity School site at the southern end of the Square. As well as a doubling of the school’s capacity, 99 apartments will also be included in the proposed 10/11 storey building that will pretty much fill the whole site. Those directly affected (residents of the south facing end of Labyrinth Tower as well as the 4, soon to be 5, blocks that overlook the site from across Roseberry Place), are understandably upset that their outlooks, and more importantly light, will be seriously impacted if this project goes ahead as planned. Because of this, many have been contacting Cllrs. Gregory and Linden directly, rather than/as well as going the official route: Using the comments page on the Hackney Council Planning Department’s webpage HERE: The deadline for comments is April 15th. Because of this the DSRA (via Ben Collins, Chair) has been contacted directly by Cllr. Gregory. On our behalf she is working to arrange a meeting, in her words “…with the school and developers to which Dalston Sq. and other residents will be invited………. to which Cllr Linden and myself will aim to attend”. Cllr Gregory will be contacting me directly when this has been organised and I will be passing on the details via this website and our forum. Cllr. Gregory will be replying to all those who have contacted her thus far, but asks that residents now cease contacting her directly as all she can do is pass comments on to planning (which is not as efficient or valuable as your comments posted directly through their website). Cllr Gregory has also recommended the website of Planning Aid For London, who provide valuable information and support on planning objections. Watch this space for further details as I receive them.

Also from Hackney Council, I have again been contacted by Lucy McMenemy, Cultural Programme Officer, with an invitation to all residents to the next public event to be held here in the C.L.R. James Library, the public space of the Square, and the Eastern Curve Garden. Hackney Wow! is a new kids’ online guide to all the fun stuff they can get up to in the local area, created by pupils at Rushmore Primary School. The planned events, on Wednesday 27th March, are to publicise the launch of this new website. As part of this, Dalston Square will be taken over by Hoxton Hall’s street performers: Cool. For full details of all that is planned see the flyer below (click on the thumbnail to see the full size image), and check out their website at hackneywow.co.uk.

One last thing before I leave you in peace: The minutes of the latest meeting of the Dalston Lane Community Working Group are now available for download from the Document Depository over at the forum HERE. Of particular interest at the meeting was the latest schedule, from Barrat Homes, for completion of every aspect of Dalston Square: Definitely worth a look. And as I always say with links to that section of the forum (the hidden, DSRA specific section), if it will not let you in you need to read the post titled ‘Please Read this…….’ HERE.

hackneywow