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.
Many thanks to everyone who took the time to complete our recent survey of Dalston Square residents. The responses (both paper and digital) have now been combined and analysed, and a final report produced. And it makes for very interesting reading. Overall the responses were very positive: It seems we are very happy to be living in such a beautiful development in the heart of one of the most vibrant and diverse areas of London. There are niggles of course, it goes without saying, but these can/should be addressed without too much trouble, and the DSRA will continue to work on your behalf to ensure they are addressed. Reassuring for us was the fact that the vast majority of the niggles mentioned are already under discussion: By raising them in your responses you have strengthened our hand in these discussions which should help greatly in having them addressed and remedied. The report is available for download over at our discussions forum HERE. As I say in that posting, I will be addressing all the comments and questions made in your responses, but this will take a while to work through so please bear with me on that.
And did you realise it is election season? On May 22nd we will have the opportunity to vote for our local councillors, the Hackney Mayor, and members of the European Parliament. While the Mayoral and European elections are important, the primary concern for many, given the pace of change in the area, is to ensure that the local ward councillors are prepared to speak up for, and listen to and represent the views of, the communities of Dalston. To this end, Dalston Futures (working with Hackney Unites) have arranged for local residents to have the chance to question the candidates before voting day. For full info on the multiple events they have planned see HERE and HERE.
One last thing before signing off, predominantly addressed to residents of phase 1 buildings (Collins Tower through to Labyrinth), and those that visit the concierge on a regular basis: Are you noticing restaurant cooking aromas in residential areas of buildings? Unfortunately the extraction system currently in place to remove said odours seems unfit for purpose. Rather than extract them from the buildings it simply pumps them into the service tunnel that runs the full length of phase 1. Many people are noticing odours in lobbies, and after travelling up the lift shafts they can even be noticed (sometimes strongly depending on the wind direction) in the corridors of even the top floors of some blocks. We are in discussion with both Barratt Homes and Consort regarding this matter but need your assistance to gauge the extent of the problem: While the existing system meets building regulations (according to Barratt), we feel we should not be able to smell the restaurants unless we are inside them. We have therefore agreed with Barratt that any complaints should be addressed to Hackney Council’s pollution control department for assessment. They can be reached by phone on 020 8356 4455, or preferably by email at email@example.com. With one more restaurant and warmer weather still to come this problem can only get worse so please do not ignore it, report it now.
So finally here are the details of the Christmas market I promised you, and also details of a local All Hallows’ Eve event too.
Hallowe’en first then as it is nearly upon us. Those of you familiar with the Dalston High Street shopping area will surely know of ‘Fee Fee La Fou HQ‘ (also HERE) on Bradbury Street. What you may not know is that this delightful little shop is the brain-child of the Square’s very own Fiona ‘Fee’ Eastwood. Anyway, the shop turns 2 years old next week so to celebrate Fee has organised a story-telling event, which she has called ‘Baba Yaga Goes GAGA!’, to take place at Mezcal Cantina on Kingsland High Street, that will serve as both a birthday party (complete with a very special cake!), and a Hallowe’en celebration. Full details of the event can be found HERE (tickets can be purchased at that same link). If this sounds like your type of event and you are a resident of the Square, contact Fee beforehand to take advantage of her ‘neighbours discount’ (just £5 instead of £7.50!).
Now to the Christmas market. City Showcase is a not-for-profit organisation that highlights and showcases unique up and coming creative talent, who, after the success of their Soho Flea Market, and working with Hackney Council, will host the inaugural Dalston Christmas Market in Dalston Square on Sunday 1st December. But this will be no traditional Christmas market: Instead it will reflect the ethos of City Showcase and the creative vibrant scene that is Dalston. The 2013 Soho Flea Market (the second year it has run) attracted over 15,000 visitors and was featured in publications such as Time Out, Cosmopolitan, Company, The Lady, Evening Standard, and Harper’s Bazaar, so this is a chance to really put Dalston Square on the London events map. As well as the website above, they also have a site dedicated to their markets HERE. Also click the thumbnail images below to see their full-size flyer, plus the letter that was posted out to all residents a few weeks ago (just in case your flat-mate read it and binned it rather than sharing it with you). As well as the market in the Square, there will be a free ‘Make Your Own Christmas Presents’ workshop in the C.L.R. James Library, and live music from local choirs and musicians.
I have been contacted by Sophie Hoskin of Telford Homes with details of an upcoming drop-in event planned for Wednesday 3rd April from 4pm – 8pm. This is the last of 5 events that have happened over the last 4 months or so that allows local residents to view the plans for the proposed development which will greatly enhance the facilities of the school and provide 101 new homes. And with representatives from ‘The Team’ (hopefully the school, Telford Homes, and the architects), this will be your last opportunity to ask questions before Hackney Council’s planning committee make their decision as to whether to give this project the green light. I would like to think that residents of the Square will be receiving flyers in their post boxes, but just in case, you can click the thumbnails below for full details.
Hello again. News not specific to Dalston Square this time, but relevant as Thames House is right on our doorstep: The north side of Dalston Lane, to the east of the Eastern Curve Garden. As you will see from the literature below (click on the thumbnail images for the full-size version), this is going to be an extensive redevelopment comprising of 77 new flats and houses (a mixture of affordable family homes and private market apartments) as well as commercial space for small businesses. Due to it’s scale, there will be a public exhibition to consult with local residents on 3rd October, and anyone interested is seeing the plans or asking questions is invited (see the flyer below).
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.