Upcoming Christmas Events
With the current light-box exhibition from Daily Life Ltd. due to finish next week (December 16th), there is just one more event planned for the square this year: Make a note of the date Saturday December 20th, 4.30pm to 6pm. Organised by Age UK East London, there will be carol singing, mince pies, and mulled wine (tea and coffee will also be available). Choirs from across Hackney will be singing festive carols hoping you will sing along. All monies raised through sales of refreshments (and of course the collection buckets that will be present) will go to help Age UK East London continue their as-necessary-as-ever work throughout the region, and spread the Christmas cheer to those less fortunate than us. Please show your support and pop down if you are able to.
And speaking of events and charity, the Eastern Curve Garden are running a whole host of events in the run-up to Christmas. To get in to the festive spirit and support them in their fabulous work of maintaining this delightful little oasis, check out their list of upcoming events HERE.
Building Security: Tail-gating
This is a subject that has been broached before, but it seems it needs to be re-iterated. After this week’s break-in to the Consort staffroom in Thomas Tower (and subsequent theft of staff personal belongings), and the ejection of non-residents from Collins Tower, it is clear that many people are still not getting the message that tailgating is a problem throughout the square that puts us all at risk. If someone tries to follow you in to your building (or tries to enter whilst you are exiting) ask to see their fob before allowing them entry. It is all very well being polite and holding the door open for people, but it is simply asking for trouble. Although these events are rare, apartments have been robbed, and stairwells have been used for drug taking and dealing. How long before we have a mugging or somebody gets hurt? And all of this is so easily avoided: Stop the tail-gaters. And if you find someone holding the door for you, thank that person for their politeness but also enlighten them to their thoughtlessness: They are putting you and all the other residents of your building at risk. NO FOB – NO ENTRY! It could not be simpler. Just to state the obvious, do not put yourself in danger during any confrontation: If you are threatened in any way, or even feel threatened, get yourself out of the situation and report the incident immediately to the concierge service either in person or by telephone on 02072547341 and they will investigate further.
As many will be aware, there was a bit of a panic a couple of weeks ago when news came through from Hackney Council that Barratt had withdrawn their planning application for the proposed ventilation system to cure the restaurant smoke and odour problem plaguing phase 1 buildings (Gaumont through Labyrinth). After many emails and phone calls, including the help of local councillor Peter Snell, it has been determined that this was an error on the council’s part who accidentally deleted the application. This has though now been reinstated, and we are hoping for a decision soon: Preferably a positive one. More news as soon as we have it.
To continue the tradition of advertising Dalston Square businesses and the businesses of Dalston Square residents, here is a quick plug for Labyrinth Tower resident Patricia. Patricia is starting new sessions of her family oriented yoga classes early next year, which will be held in the Young Hackney building in Forest Road. Patricia is an experienced yoga teacher, working primarily with newcomers and children, she hopes to attract your whole family to her new sessions: All ages, and all experience levels are welcome. To enrol for these new classes, check out her website HERE. If you are interested, and a Dalston Square resident yourself, take the flyer you will find in your letterbox during the coming week to your first session for a special (and very neighbourly) ‘Residents Only’ discount of 40% on that session (£6 instead of £10). The new sessions start on January 10th 2015, and will continue every Saturday from 11.15am to 12.15pm: What better way could there be to energise your weekend!
As I am sure everyone is by now aware, fire gutted Nancy’s Pantry, the children orientated restaurant here in the square, early this past Tuesday morning. The fire started at around 7.30am and was attended by 6 fire tenders and 35 firemen and officers from Shoreditch, Homerton, Stoke Newington, and Islington fire stations. A dozen residents from immediately above the restaurant were evacuated as a precaution, but the fire was contained within the restaurant and fully extinguished by 9.30am. The fire, it seems, was caused by an electrical fault, possibly with a refrigerator or the socket it was plugged into: The fire brigade are investigating and will no doubt report back soon.
In the wake of the fire there have been 3 very important questions asked which I would like to address here:
Why did audible alarms not sound throughout Labyrinth Tower when the fire detectors were triggered? The answer is very simple: There are none (despite the fact that the fire warning instruction signs posted within each block are based on what to do on hearing alarms). There are of course smoke detectors with audible alarms in each and every apartment, but in public areas the smoke detectors have no alarm attached, and for a very good reason: In the event of fire, you are supposed to stay put in your apartment (unless a) the fire is in your apartment, or b) you are instructed to evacuate by fire and/or safety officials). If there were audible alarms throughout the building, people would attempt evacuation without knowing where the fire is, potentially heading in the direction of the fire. If you are unaware of the drill in the event of a fire anywhere in the square, the official fire policy document for Dalston Square is available for download at our discussions forum HERE: Please do read it if you have not already done so.
How did smoke manage to infiltrate the stairwell of Raddon Tower next door? As yet we have no answer as to how the smoke managed to cross from one block to it’s neighbour (something that certainly should not be possible), but this is being investigated and will hopefully be rectified soon: The DSRA will follow this issue over the coming weeks.
Why did the AOV (Automatic Opening Vent) system fail to clear the smoke from Raddon Tower’s stairwell? There was simply insufficient smoke for it to make it from the stairwell into any of the corridors where the smoke detectors would have triggered the system. For those not familiar with this system, check your hallway and you will see a panel somewhere in the wall labelled ‘Smoke Shaft Door’. In the event of the smoke detectors being triggered, these ‘doors’ open to reveal a large vent system. At the same time, powerful fans on the roof of the block kick in to push huge quantities of fresh air down through the stairwell, strong enough to push open the fire doors leading from the stairwell into each and every floor’s corridors, and thereby forcing any smoke in those corridors out into the vent system: Very clever. Remember that it is estimated that at least half (and by some estimates as many as 80%) of all fire deaths are due to the inhalation of smoke rather than burning.
Phase 1 kitchen ventilation
Finally our persistence in pursuing Barratt with regard an extraction system for the kitchens of the restaurants in phase 1 (the eastern side of the square) has borne fruit. Barratt have now submitted plans to Hackney Council to retro-fit a proper, above roof-line, extraction system. Currently all these restaurants simply pump their smoke and fumes into the rear service tunnel (that runs from Gaumont Tower through to Labyrinth Tower) from where it is finding it’s way into lobbies, and up into the residential parts of each block. As is usual with this king of planning application (a visual change to Gaumont Tower as the ducting will be fitted to the outside of the rear of the block), the council is giving the general public the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Residents of Gaumont Tower have received direct communication from the council regarding this, but for other phase 1 residents who have supported our campaign, not received this letter, but who would like the opportunity to comment on the application, the process can be done online HERE. All comments must be in by 26th September so get your comments in soon. For Phase 2 residents who are concerned that they will experience a similar problem when the Japanese restaurant in Thomas Tower opens for business, worry not: You already have a proper extraction system in place.
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.
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.)
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!
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……..
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.