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.
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.
Updates To Previous Posts
Hi all, hope this post finds you well. The first item is not so much an update as a reiteration. You may have noticed Sean Stone’s note on the notice boards, and should of received your letter from Consort, regarding next week’s meeting, called by Consort, to explain to us all the reasons for the rises in the coming year’s service charges. (Regarding the letter, please note there is a mistake contained therein: Charges will rise from the current range of £900-£3800, depending on block and size, to a range of £1000-£4000. Not, as it is poorly written, an increase of £1000-£4000). Those of you registered with the DSRA (via the forum or by attending our regular meetings) will have today received my email but I will again publish here a note from Ben Collins, Chair of the DSRA, regarding this meeting:
Service Charge increases 2013- 2014Consort MeetingTuesday March 19th6.30 pmCLR James LibrarySome of you will be aware that our Service Charges are due to increase again this April.In some cases, we the Residents Association believe, these could be very significant. (From our estimates this could possibly be more than 25% in the case of some buildings)Leaseholders received a letter this week from Consort Property Management (dated March 12th), which is somewhat confusing. It describes ‘an increase of between £1000 and £4000 per apartment… dependent on the block’.If these figures are correct, they are alarming. They do not reflect the provisional figures the DSRA committee was given in a recent budget review meeting with Consort, but they do confirm the need to attend the meeting next Tuesday, to ask questions.For the past three years the Residents’ Association has asked for greater transparency in budgeting and more accurate predictive information for Service Charges for each apartment, to be sent out well in advance of the new financial year. This is to avoid the surprises many of us have had in past years from late notices of increases, based on unexplained or questionable cost increases in running our buildings.The increase in Service Charges will impact on ALL residents including tenants.We are very concerned about the confused message from Consort and hope that as many residents as possible will attend the meeting on Tuesday March 19th, at 6:30 in the library. We need a strong showing to impress upon Consort that we expect better from their financial management, and better value for money for their Service Charges. If you can, please come to the meeting to make your case.Ben CollinsChairDalston Square Residents’ Association
A Bit Of This And…..
Quite a lot to tell you all about so I have used our forum for all the details. I will summarise each topic here and link you through to the forum to get the full story.
First off, some more meeting minutes, this time from the Finance Sub-committee. These from 2 meetings held so far with regard our Consort service charges for 2013/14: HERE and HERE. It is not good news I am afraid. If you have difficulty with those links, see my last website post where this is addressed (HERE, second to last sentence of the first paragraph).
Next up, one for all you Tweeters out there: We have long had a Twitter account but it hasn’t been used in an age and I have been unable to track down whoever controls it. So a new one has been created: @DalstonSquareRA. Christine (Chair of the RA’s Social Sub-Committee, and my better half) created it and will monitor it. Any responsible persons who wish to tweet relevant info in the name of the RA should contact her for the account password. Please do so via the forum.
Next, some good news from Bootstrap, our neighbours over in Ashwin Street (owners of the roof garden over there among other things): They are changing the programme of how the roof garden will be used, and offering us a place to hold our DSRA meetings free of charge (rather than the £50 the library charge. More HERE.
Just 2 more items, and they are loosely connected. The first of the these is regarding a couple of evenings in May/June when The lost Picture Show are hoping to screen a couple of free to attend movies here in the Square. The question is, will there be objections? Details HERE. And last of all, a couple of current licence applications currently with Hackney Council. I do not foresee any issues with one of them (the Council applying to itself to run free events in the Square for the enjoyment of all), the other though could well garner quite a bit of opposition. Again a forum link, all the details HERE.
That’s it for now. I wish you all a great weekend, and please do pop over to the forum to share your thoughts on all the issues posted.
Lots Of Minutes….. But Not An Hour.
Lots of meeting minutes to share with you, all posted over at the forum. Firstly, from a meeting of the Dalston Lane Community Working Group Ben Collins (DSRA Chair) and I attended back in December HERE. Secondly, from a meeting of the DSRA’s Buildings Maintenance sub-committee meeting with Barrat and Consort on January 10th HERE. Thirdly, from the DSRA general meeting of January 10th HERE. Lastly, sent to me by Lucy McMenemy of Hackney Council, minutes from the meeting of the Culture and Community Engagement Forum meeting for Dalston Square that was held on January 16th HERE (scroll down to my last entry on the page). As always, 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 first three links above, read THIS, and, if you qualify, follow it’s instructions HERE. Just a thought (which led to my post title above); If you have minutes from 60 meetings, do you have an hour? 🙂
One last thing before leaving you all in peace. I have been contacted by Nick Griffiths of Land Of Kings (www.landofkings.co.uk) organisers of an annual Dalston music and arts festival. Let me share his email with you:
The fifth Land of Kings (2013) will take place on Sunday May 5th and we will also be debuting a new festival the following day (Monday 6th) aimed at local families, to be called “Land of Kids”. Both festivals are collaborations with a number of local artistic and cultural venues such as Arcola Theatre, Bootstrap Company (including Print House Gallery, The Bunker and Dalston Roofpark) and Café Oto. The night time part of the programme also includes venues across the neighbourhood such as Vortex Jazz Club, The Alibi, Servant Jazz Quarters, Rio Cinema, Birthdays, Shacklewell Arms etc.In previous years the festival has taken place largely in the area’s indoor music and arts venues as well as a few temporary event spaces for which we have applied for Temporary Events Notices (TEN). We are planning an outdoor element to the festival this year, on Ashwin Street and in Abbot Street car park, and for that we’re required to apply for a temporary Premises License as the number of people we are expecting is more than 499 (the limit for running an event under a TEN).As part of the planning for this year’s event we wanted to check in with local residents groups to share our plans as well as what we will be doing to limit the impact on the area and work with local people to make it as successful and smooth running an event as possible for all. I wondered if you’d be able to share this email and the attached site plan with your respective groups. The main part of our license application pertains to the car park at the end of Abbot Street where we’re hoping to build a temporary live music stage, to run in the afternoon until 10pm on Sunday 5th May, and until 7pm on Monday 6th May.
Happy New Year!
First things first. a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013 to you all. I have a bunch of things to mention, some of which you may be aware of but almost certainly not all. So here goes. Firstly, a quick reminder that Thursday 10th January (this coming Thursday) is the date for our next DSRA meeting. As usual the meeting will start at 7pm (likely of 90 minutes duration), but this time it will be held in the C.L.R. James Library (in the meeting room upstairs). As always, the meeting is open to ALL Dalston Square residents, owners and renters alike. Full details, including the agenda, can be found HERE.
Next, dates are now set for the next 2 presentations of the proposed development of the Holy Trinity School site (the school on Roseberry place at the south end of the Square). This will give you the opportunity to see the latest plans of, meet the team behind, and share your thoughts on, the proposed 11 storey development. Both will be held in the school itself (entrance on Beechwood Road) with the first being on Thursday 10th January from 4pm to 8pm, the second on Saturday 12th January from 10am to 2pm. If you did not manage to attend either of the previous events, I suggest all residents try to attend one of these (there is a slight overlap between the Thursday event and the DSRA meeting so why not do one after the after? 😉 ).
Next up, something for all you bicycle owners. Sean Stone (our on-site, Consort, development manager) has arranged for the police to attend the Square on Saturday 19th January to organise a bike security marking session. This will not, of course, stop your bicycle from being stolen, but, if your stolen bicycle is ever recovered by the police (they often break theft rings recovering many stolen bicycles), they will be able to return it to you: Definitely a good thing. This free service will be in the Square from midday until 2pm. It is quick, it is easy, it is free: So take advantage of this opportunity if you can. 😎
Next, I just want to be sure you all have the correct contact details for the on-site Consort staff. To contact the concierge desk (the number changed fairly recently) the old mobile number is no longer valid and the new land-line number is 0207 2547341. To contact Sean Stone (our new development manager) phone 0207 2490896, or email email@example.com.
One last thing before I leave you in peace: Previously I have mentioned resident Maisie Collin’s ‘Dalston Square Collective’ (a collective for self-employed and freelance people), details HERE on the forum. Well, Maisie has been busy advertising her idea and building support and has now expanded her idea to become ‘The Hackney Collective’ (though it will still be based here in the Square). The local on-line press recently did an article to promote the idea which you can find HERE. If this sounds like something for you, check out the forum post I have linked to to make contact with Maisie.
Okey dokey, that’s it for now. Enjoy the rest of your weekend folks.
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….
Firstly, the minutes from the last general meeting of the DSRA are available for download (.pdf file) in the DSRA specific section over at the forum HERE. If that link does not work for you, please read this forum post HERE, and all should become clear. These minutes are available to all residents (renters and owners alike) of Dalston Square: But only residents of Dalston Square. If anyone has any problems getting the minutes, please feel free to contact me (via the general chat section of the forum is best).
Secondly, hands up if you know Maisie Collins. Keep them up if you knew Maisie started the Residents Association single-handed? Well done if you still have your hand up. Maisie had now decided it is time for her newest project: The Dalston Square Collective. Do you work freelance? Perhaps run your own small business? From home on the Square? If you answered yes to any of those options you must read Maisie’s post at the forum (worth a read if you didn’t answer yes – you never know): HERE.
More soon! Enjoy your weekend.
Meeting Reminder & Agenda
Hi folks. Just a quick reminder for all residents of the Square that there will be a general meeting of the Residents’ Association next week. Open to ALL residents (renters and owners alike) the meeting will be hosted by my partner Christine and myself on Tuesday 20th November, at 61 Gaumont Tower, starting promptly at 7.00pm, and chaired by DSRA Chairperson Ben Collins. These meetings generally run for approx 90 minutes and I expect this one will be no different. Listed here below is the agenda for the meeting. Whether you have an opinion you want to express, or just want to know/see how things work at these meetings, every resident is welcome to come along.
1) Consort Management Changes
Consort’s proposals versus what residents want.
2) Dalston Square Commercial Units
Bars, restaurants, crèches: What fits and how do Barrat’s wishes compare to those of the residents.
3) Bicycle Security
4) Noisy And Disruptive Late-Night Parties
What further measures can we take?
5) 2013-2014 Service Charges
We have been invited to list our expenditure priorities in a pre-budget meeting with Consort. What are the resident’s priorities?
6) Christmas Social
7) Any Other Business
Hi folks, just a quick one. Gerard Hayes, Consort’s on-site development manager, is to hold his next residents surgery on Wednesday 3rd October from 6.00pm until 8.00pm. To reserve your 10 minute slot contact Gerard by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone on 0207 2490896. If you have any questions for Gerard regarding Consort’s management of the development this is your chance, so contact him soon to get the slot you want.
Minutes And Cricket
Hi everyone. Bet you have never seen the words ‘Minutes’ and ‘Cricket’ together before: Cricket is normally accompanied by the words ‘Hours’ or ‘Days’. In this instance though ‘Minutes’ refers to the minutes of last week’s DSRA meeting which are now available for download from the forum HERE (if that link does not work for you, read the last paragraph, starting with PLEASE NOTE, of THIS).
Now to the cricket part of the title. I have received an advisory email from Lucy McMenemy, Cultural Programme Officer for Hackney Council, to share with you all. It reads:
Dear allI am very pleased to invite you to a special day of cricket-inspired events both inside and outside Dalston CLR James Library, this Saturday (29th Sept), as part of Hackney’s Black History Month 2012.For CLR James, whom Dalston’s new library is named after, cricket was not just an entertainment and relic of empire, but also a means of struggle for independence and national pride for the West Indies. His book ‘Beyond a Boundary’ is recognised as one of the best books ever written on cricket.As a celebration of CLR James’ legacy, Dalston Square is temporarily being transformed into a cricket haven by day – with trained coaches from the English Cricket Board’s Cricket Factory Roadshow – and a cinema by night – with a free screening of Fire in Babylon (2011, Revolver Films). Please see the attached flier for more details.Also this Saturday, the library will host the launch of a special exhibition about the involvement of black people in cricket in Hackney and beyond. The exhibition focuses on the experiences of nine local cricketers and presents their reflections upon the game both in Hackney and in the West Indies.You are invited to the opening of this exhibition at 2pm on Saturday, 29th Sept, in the foyer of Dalston CLR James Library, Dalston Square, E8 3BQ. I do hope that you will be able to join us.Also in Dalston this Saturday, Gillett Square will be hosting ’20 Drum Sets: 20 Drummers’, as part of UPLOAD, a multi-platform festival festuring a stunningly diverse programme of new projects from the Loop Collective. In the early afternoon, 20 drummers (and drum kits!) will convene on Gillett Square and perform a one-off piece of music, featuring some of the finest drummers/percussionists in the UK and surely one of London’s musical highlights of 2012. Throughout the afternoon, the festival will feature a number of surprise pop-up acts and intimate performances around the square.See www.gillettsquare.org.uk for further details.
Meeting Reminder & Parking Permits Update
Hello neighbours. Just wanted to, firstly, remind you all that the DSRA have a committee meeting this evening to which all residents of the Square are invited: Owners, renters, long-time DSRA members, and those who have never attended a meeting before. Whether you have something to say or just want to listen in, every resident is invited and welcome to join us: 7.00pm, 69 Gaumont Tower. See HERE for the agenda
Secondly, an update regarding the new parking permit system for the underground parking at Dalston Square. Due to many owners/renters having not yet collected their permits from the concierge guys, the implementation of the checking routines will be delayed by a couple of weeks. Consort will conduct a second round of posting notices on all parked vehicles to advice everyone of the new system (to catch anyone who may have been overlooked in the first round), and then full implementation of the new system will start in a couple of weeks time. Once that new system starts, any vehicle found parked that is not displaying the correct permit and/or is parked in the wrong parking bay, will receive a parking ticket (just as you would if parked illegally on any public road). Checks will be conducted several times each day by an independent contractor who will accept no excuses for illegal/incorrect parking. And Consort will not be able to help you if you feel you have been incorrectly ticketed: You will have to appeal against the ticket in exactly the same manner as if incorrectly ticketed by a traffic warden. Friends and neighbours, if you own or rent a space in the underground parking and have not yet got your permit, get it soon: Being caught without one will soon become very expensive. You have been warned.
Meeting Agenda & Parking Permits
Hi folks. Firstly, clarification for car-park space owners/renters regarding the new permit system which comes into effect next week (19th Sept.). If you own or rent a parking space in the underground Dalston Square parking facilities, and have not already spoken to the concierge service regarding your permit, you need to do so very soon. Starting next Wednesday, an independent company will be making regular inspections of the underground parking at Dalston Square to ensure that all vehicles parked there are actually supposed to be there, and not simply trespassing in somebody’s, paid-for, allotted space. Unfortunately, as Gerard Hayes is currently on holiday, I cannot tell you exactly what will happen to vehicles without permits (parking tickets certainly, clamping/towing possibly), but will find out and share that info with you all on Gerard’s return. As an owner, simply present proof of ownership (a copy of your lease) to the concierge along with the details of your vehicle and they will issue you with your permit (which must then be displayed in said vehicle whilst parked). As a renter, you will need a copy of the owner’s lease as proof of their ownership, a letter from that owner confirming you are renting their car-park space, and your vehicle details.
Next up, we now have an agenda for the upcoming Resident’s Association meeting. As always, the meeting is open to any and every resident of the Square, owners and renters alike. If you are interested in participating in the decision-making process, or simply curious as to what goes on in these meetings, we would love to see you there.
Dalston Square Resident’s Association Meeting.
Thursday, 20th September, 7.00pm, 69 Gaumont Tower.
1) Chasing the glitches – Report back on our recent meeting with Barratt Homes and Consort on those nagging building deficiencies (bike storage, bin store ventilation, fire safety, snags in the Square).
2) Noise and good neighbourliness – Noise in tall buildings travels up, down, and all around. Balancing one person’s fun against a neighbour’s right to peace and quiet. Respecting guidelines or imposing rules? Noisy builders? Have your say.
3) Service Charges for 2013-2014 – Planning ahead: Consort have agreed to share with Dalston Square residents their draft budget for next year: To ensure there is greater clarity for all residents and to ask for feedback (we will need help with this – new members with finance skills welcome!)
4) Arts and social events – ‘MAKING THE SQUARE OUR HOME’. What is planned for the months ahead? New ideas for fun social events to build the spirit of community in our vertical world!
Hello neighbours. Two meetings to talk about, one past and one up-coming. Firstly the meeting past. July 18th saw the latest meeting of the Culture and Community Engagement Forum, and I have posted the minutes from this meeting to our discussions Forum HERE. Secondly, the next DSRA general meeting is to be held Tuesday of next week, 14th August, 7.00pm at 32 Raddon Tower. As per usual it is expected to last an hour and a half to two hours, and all Dalston Square residents (owners and renters alike) are invited to come along: The more active members we have, the stronger our voice in negotiation.
And here is the agenda for that meeting:
1. Buildings Sub Committee report back. Progress on our back-log of repair requests
2. Anti Social Behaviour issues – A report back re meeting in July with Consort and Council
Progress in establishing positive expectations/good neighbourliness
3. Cultural events in the Square – Cultural Sub Committee
Making the Square a community space for all.
4. Where next for the DSRA?
One Committee for whole complex? Democracy? Open Committee with sub Committees? Keeping it manageable. Time to cover a full agenda? Are some items best left to sub-committees? Elections or appointment of officers? Chair, Secretary etc.: Is this desirable? Continue with current ‘semi formal’ structures of self appointed volunteers?
a) email lists – i) ‘Activists list ii) Full residents list
6. Summer Social
Roof Garden – Sept 9th – People back from summer breaks and closing ceremony of the Paralympics so fireworks?
Dalston Square As A Public Space
As you may or may not know, Dalston Square is the largest public space created in London since the 1940s. What you probably do not know is that the local council are very keen to make the Square a place for the whole community to enjoy (not just the residents) and, to this end, have created ‘The Dalston Square Culture & Community Engagement Forum’.
Though the Square is still some way from finished (early 2013 is the latest estimate I have heard for this), some small events have already happened: You surely saw the kiddies climbing wall some weeks ago, and if you were lucky you caught one of the 2 contemporary dance performances a couple of Saturdays ago (I have to say dance is not normally my thing but I thought it was great: Very clever and imaginative).
Anyhow, the Engagement Forum held a meeting a couple of weeks ago and I have been sent a copy of the minutes of that meeting, by Lucy McMenemy, the Cultural Programme Officer for Dalston at Hackney Council, so I could share them with you all. I for one am very pleased to know that the local council are serious about making the Square not just a great place to live, but a public space the whole community of Dalston and beyond can enjoy.
I have posted those minutes in a new thread over at our discussions Forum which you can access directly by clicking HERE.