A big ‘Thank You!’ to everyone who voted in our poll to decide what to do for our Christmas social this year. The winning option, with 70.59% of the vote was (imagine a drum roll)…….. The Cafe Route option. Therefore, without further ado, I am very pleased to announce we are going to do something completely different. 😯 😆
So, set for Friday 20th December, from 6pm to 8pm (although you are welcome to stay for extra merriment if you wish), the event will be held in the cosy ‘winter quarters’ of the Eastern Curve Garden (namely the large main greenhouse complete with it’s, when lit, crackling glowing wood burning stove). Mulled wine and toasted chestnuts (fresh from the aforementioned stove) will be available for purchase (all funds go to the garden), and everyone is encouraged to bring a mince pie or three (or something similar) to share with your neighbours. Poster coming soon.
Next up, news from the recent public hearing regarding the development of Holy Trinity School. After excellent presentations from both Hackney Council and local residents explaining their support for the school expansion, while still very much against the 7 storeys of flats proposed to sit atop it, Mayor Boris Johnson decided to overrule Hackney Council’s decision of earlier in the year and allow the development to go ahead. The 36 meter high (equal to 12 storeys) concrete mass will be taller than all it’s neighbours and will put many existing properties, to it’s West, North, and East, into shadow. Anyone interested in viewing a webcast of the proceedings (where the full picture of the arguments against the structure can be heard) can do so HERE.
Next, Dalston Futures. 45 local residents attended their second meeting recently (much better than the 10 for the first), so momentum is building. THIS from them regarding that meeting, their call for financial assistance through donations, and the next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday 10th December from 6:30pm to 8pm (again in the Trinity Centre on Beechwood Road). The online magazine East London Lines is currently carrying a video recorded at the last meeting which you can view HERE.
One last thing before I finish, many thanks to those who answered our Twitter call for pics of the Christmas Market held in the Square on Sunday. If you missed it yourself, you can see how successful it was by checking our Twitter feed @DalstonSquareRA.
Just a quick reminder of the meeting taking place on Wednesday at 6pm in the library. You all know the routine by now: The meeting is open to all residents of the Square, owners and renters alike. See you there? Click the image below to see it full size.
Really, it is just an informal gathering: Neighbours getting together for a chin-wag over a drink and a nibble from the barbecue. No need to put on the glad-rags. Just a little over 2 hours until (5.30pm) we get things started on the 9th floor roof terrace of Gaumont Tower. Bring a bottle of your favourite tipple and something to throw on the bbq (and/or perhaps something to share). Then at 7.00pm we will all head down into the Square and fire up the fountain (figuratively speaking of course). Bring your friends, bring your family, Let’s Splash!
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:
Hi folks, couple of things. Firstly a reminder that our residents winter get-together is this Sunday: From 6pm, 3rd floor roof terrace of Gaumont Tower. Click the thumbnail below to see the full size poster. Secondly, Maisie Collins has asked that I let you all know that she has changed the time and venue of her first meeting for anyone interested in her ‘Dalston Square Collective’ for freelancers and small business owners that reside on the Square. New details are on Maisie’s forum post HERE. Lastly, did we all receive the Holy Trinity Primary School flyer below (click on the thumbnail for the full size image), which I found in my mailbox earlier in the week? I intend to attend the meeting on Monday and will report back with my findings. A forum thread has also been started about this planned development HERE. Have a good weekend all!
Hi all. Just a final reminder that this coming Sunday will see the DSRA’s late summer BBQ event on the 9th floor roof terrace of Gaumont Tower. And just to mention that although it is advertised as running from 5-7pm, no-one will be shooed away at 7pm: With the Paralympic closing ceremony due to kick-off at 9pm that evening, complete with fireworks, it should be a fun evening (even the weather forecast is currently favourable). Be there, or be (Dalston) Square! 🙄 Click the thumbnail below for the full-size poster.
Hello all, I have some news and updates to share and will try not to ramble too much.
Firstly, some good news for those of you still using E.On as your electricity supplier (not to be confused with E.On heat supply). It has been pointed out that most energy suppliers now offer discounts to customers who use a single supplier for both their electricity and gas supply, and how unfair it is that although we have no gas we are tied to E.on for our heat, but still we do not qualify for some kind of discount also. Well, thanks to some great detective work from Andy T. (resident of Labyrinth Tower), it seems we are eligible for a discount after all. There is, however, a problem in that although E.On have agreed to give us the discount, it is not yet set up in their billing software: I have spent over an hour in total, in four phone calls, over 3 days trying to get it arranged for myself. So, I have an arrangement with a supervisor at E.On whereby as soon as things are set within their systems, I will be advised that they are ready to receive calls from all residents for whom this will apply, and of course I will then let you all know exactly how to claim this discount for yourselves. And do not worry that you are missing out whilst being delayed: E.On are back-dating the discount to the beginning of your account with them! Pretty cool I think you will agree. It could be 4-6 weeks I am told but will get back to you all as soon as I hear from E.On.
Next up, another find from Andy T. (he has been a busy boy) that will be useful for anyone struggling with anti-social neighbours and loud parties. As well as being able to phone the Hackney Council noise pollution team to make formal complaints (020 8356 4455), they also have a website for the same purpose: Click HERE to go straight to it. Just one request though: If you do contact the council directly regarding a party or generally noisy neighbours, please be sure to report it to the concierge as well so it gets logged in Consort’s log-book. Thanks.
On a more positive note, Hackney council now have a webpage dedicated to Dalston Square and the activities organised by their Culture & Community Engagement Forum. You can find it HERE. As you will see, there is already quite a lot of events on the cards, with plenty more to come I believe. Check it out to see the details of this coming Sunday’s (tomorrow’s) t-shirt design & printing event that is completely free for under 18s: Very cool. Do please note that under 12s must be accompanied by an adult. The event will take place in the library, spilling out into the Square if weather permits. Click the thumbnail image at the bottom of this post to see their advertising poster.
Lastly, a word regarding posting comments to these blog posts. Please do not use fake names and spurious email addresses, and please keep the comment relevant to the post you are commenting against. All other comments or questions should be posted to the discussions forum. Many thanks.
Hello friends and neighbours. As you all know, we held a DSRA meeting during the week and I will be posting the minutes of that meeting soon. In the meantime, we did finalise plans for a late-summer get-together. Open to all residents of Dalston square (and any friends you wish to bring with you), it will be a BBQ event held on the 9th floor terrace of Gaumont tower. The RA will (fingers crossed) supply the grill, so bring some food & drink (something to share?) a plate and a glass, and come to meet your neighbours! Click the thumbnail image below to see the poster with the details.
Dalston Square Residents Newsletter
Developments in the Square
We are told that the Co-op has exchanged contracts on the premises by the main entrance to the Station, but as yet we have no information on exactly when it will open. The site of the rumored Mediterranean Restaurant is still under offer according to the estate agent managing commercial properties in the Square. The Library Café is due for a new fascia board soon to replace the plastic banner currently in place. Watch this space for future developments!
Consort getting some repairs out of Barratt, but…
The new dialogue between the residents’ Building Sub Committee, Consort management, and Barratt is paying off more in some areas than others, and the process can seem very slow. It is difficult at times to know if it is Barratt or Consort who are holding things up. The Buildings Committee meets every 6 weeks with Consort for a site walkabout to assess progress on what needs fixing. Consort says that they are chasing Barratt and we hope that they are now being properly held to account and repairs are being made. If you have concerns let the building committee know. (This is best achieved via our Forum.)
The following are the result of the Associations pressure.
- Roof gardens have been freshly weeded and with the help of rain are looking better, if not as they should be according to original planting.
- Water outlets have now been installed on roof terraces so that plants can be watered. (Anyone willing to help with the upkeep of the planters is very welcome to volunteer! Please speak to Gerry Hayes, Consort’s Site Manager.)
- New locking arrangements are to be installed so that Ocean and Dekker residents cannot lock themselves in the bin rooms.
- The stonework outside Collins has been re-leveled to stop the puddle forming. (We are aware that this has only been a partial success and we are again chasing for more work to be done.)
- Glass roof panels (between Gaumont and Collins Towers) to be fixed following battle between Consort and the building insurance company. (Frustratingly, the repair has again been held up by the installation company, which Consort is chasing as we got to press.)
- Barratt have yet to step up and deal with the flooding that follows heavy rain in the underground parking. The Building Committee will keep pressing for this.
Consort’s Service Charges for Next Year… An open book?
There are ongoing concerns about the level of service charges as well as transparency of calculations. There is a general crisis of confidence in how fees are arrived at. The Residents’ Association plans to meet with the Consort Regional Management Team ahead of the next round of budgeting to discuss next years’ charges.
E.on Heat Charges
E.on have a monopoly on Heat, which is a challenge. Ben Collins has written to Barratt’s about the nature of the Heating contract originally negotiated with Eon when planning the complex. Barratt’s response was posted to this blog Here.
Many residents have moved their electricity supplier from E-On. As far a heating is concerned many have found that it is best to pay a lower standing charge and higher per unit charge. On behalf of the Residents Association, Mark has been in discussion with Eon about getting better information to residents about how to cut their fuel bills, and his findings can be read in his forum post Here.
Right to Manage
Many residents remain unimpressed with Consort’s performance and ability to run the complex efficiently and effectively. As we have pointed out before, the law allows flat owners to replace a management company if 50% or more of the leaseholders vote for that change.
Urang, a London based property management company, have been invited by a group of residents to consider taking over the management. The company has a reputation for efficiency and prompt delivery. Urang are now completing the lengthy research needed to contact all leaseholders, or their agents. Following this, and working with a group of resident ‘Directors’ from Dalston Square, Urang will contact all Dalston Square owners to seek approval for taking over the management from Consort.
Thanks to Mark, we now have a Dalston Square website (used for DSRA announcements and information), and a Forum (for resident discussion and communication). Register on the website to receive all new posts directly to your email (guaranteed no spam… Ever… We promise), and register on the Forum to participate in the discussions (you can read the posts without registering, but not make your own contribution).
Residents’ ‘Get Together’ – A roof party at the end of the summer
The Easter egg hunt at the Eastern Curve Garden was a great success. Marked by its youthful spirit when even adults couldn’t resist searching out eggs in the higher brambles! This event is to be followed by a ‘roof social’ for all residents, planned for Sunday 9th September on the 9th floor roof terrace of Gaumont Tower. This coincides with the closure of the Paralympics. The stadium is very visible from the east-facing roof so we hope for a firework display, although the Olympic committee has not yet fully responded to our request!
Join us! Watch for posters in August. If you would like/are able to help with organisation, please get in touch via the Forum.
Hello again. Just a quick plug for the Square’s very own resident artist.
Here is her publicity poster, and a sample of her artwork (click on them to see a bigger image). The exhibition will be open on Saturday 30th June and Sunday 1st July, between 11am and 6pm. If you have the chance, please pop in and show your support. Who knows, maybe you will find something to hang in that blank spot on your apartment wall. 😉
Hi folks. Just a quick reminder that tomorrow (Sunday) is our Easter Egg Hunt in the Eastern Curve Garden from 2-4pm. Entry is completely free, and open to all. Tea and coffee will be available for purchase, but if you fancy something a little stronger, or a snack of any kind, feel free to bring it along (enough to share perhaps?). The weather forecast is for cloudy skies, but dry throughout the afternoon. So, wrap yourselves and your kids warmly, and come join in the fun! Full details HERE.