Help shape the development of the Dalston Quarter

Hackney Town Hall

Hackney Council is gathering views on the principles which could shape the development of a new cultural quarter in the centre of Dalston, aimed at protecting and building on the area’s reputation as one of London’s most creative and dynamic neighbourhoods.

The ‘Dalston Quarter’ refers to a group of Council-owned buildings in the area around Ashwin Street and parts of Dalston Lane. Over the last few years, the Council has been working with local residents, businesses and community groups to explore how it can ensure the long-term future of these buildings and their role in providing future cultural spaces and creative industry-led employment spaces, which could include affordable workspace.

The new development would also help to secure the sensitive refurbishment of those buildings with local heritage value.

Following this initial consultation a number of draft development principles have been formed to guide the future direction of the Dalston Quarter project. These are now ready for further consultation with the wider local community. These principles are, in summary:

  1. Recognising the existing buildings and organisations who use them, alongside future opportunities for the area.
  2. Provide a wide range of spaces to compliment the cultural and creative reputation of the area and promote collaboration between the organisations located there.
  3. Ensure high quality buildings and public open space.
There is little dispute about Dalston’s reputation as a thriving cultural and creative town centre, so it is absolutely appropriate to ensure that this reputation continues into the future. The Dalston Quarter project is designed to help with this ambition and provide the spaces for the town centre to grow and prosper.

The consultation on the draft development principles for the new Quarter will directly inform the next phase of the project, which will involve selecting a development partner and see the launch of an architectural design competition.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Business and Investment


Q. Do we plan to sell the buildings?

No. The Council values the special character of the Dalston Quarter and is seeking to explore how it can best use the sites it owns to help ensure this is maintained on a more permanent basis.

Q. What will the public realm proposed in the AAP be like?

The adopted 2013 AAP designates an Eastern Curve public open space linking the southern part of Dalston Lane, beside the peace mural, and the top of Dalston Lane. This would consist of a series of inter-linked spaces of different character and atmosphere, including spaces for play, recreation, leisure and relaxation. This new public open space would enhance the town centre and be open to everyone. It is however too early to tell what this would look like, as no designs have been commissioned or submitted at this stage.

Q. Is the garden included in the Dalston Quarter consultation?

The consultation is focused on three draft principles that could shape what could happen on four Council owned sites in Dalston (labelled as Site 1, Site 2, Site 3 and Site 4). The garden is largely on privately owned land, but its entrance, which houses a number of temporary buildings associated with the garden, does fall within the boundary of Site 3, and some of the other sites also adjoin the garden. As set out in the Dalston Area Action Plan adopted in 2013, all of the sites included will need to respond to each other and the Eastern Curve public open space, on which the majority of the garden is located. In this context the Council is open to exploring the potential to retain a community garden as set out in draft Principle 3 of the consultation.

Q. What would happen to the garden when the Dalston Quarter becomes a reality?

It is too early to tell what the Dalston Quarter will look like. The purpose of this initial consultation is to gather the views of the local community on the draft principles that could shape the future design proposals for the Dalston Quarter. Principle 3 discusses options for the sites with an eastern frontage onto the designated Eastern Curve public open space, which is likely to impact on the garden in its current form but not preclude its inclusion as part of the wider Quarter.

Q. Why can’t you change the principles to protect the garden?

The draft principles in the consultation have been established so that the Council can restore and make better longer term use of the sites it owns in the Dalston Quarter, building on and giving more permanency to its special character as a cultural and creative hub. Because part of the garden falls within and bounds a number of these sites, it would be very difficult to achieve the above objectives without any impacts or disruption to the garden in its current form. Furthermore, these sites can help to make possible the Area Action Plan’s designation for an Eastern Curve public open space linking the southern part of Dalston Lane and the top of Dalston Lane. Draft principle 3 of the consultation makes reference to the Dalston Quarter enhancing this open space, whilst recognising the potential for a community garden to form part of this. If the principles were changed to protect the garden in its current form, the Council would not be able to realise any of the wider public benefits as set out above, delivered by both Council owned sites and the public open space. These could include new spaces on Council owned sites to support creative/cultural and community businesses, providing affordable workspace alongside public open space.

Q. Who owns the land the garden is on?

The Council owns a small portion of the garden along the boundaries of 15 – 19 Dalston Lane, and 2 – 16 Ashwin Street, which makes up the entrance area of the garden and contains small temporary buildings which help to support it. The vast majority of the garden is on land owned by Kingsland Shopping Centre.

Q. How did the garden come about?

The garden is located on part of the Eastern Curve, an area of land safeguarded by planning policy to improve connectivity through the town centre, and provide much needed public open space. It was always intended that the garden would be a good interim use until firm proposals materialised for the Eastern Curve.

It’s taken a long time for the necessary feasibility studies to be completed for the Council owned sites adjacent to and including a small part of the garden. These have been used, together with a social value report, to inform the initial principles out to consultation that could shape the future use of those Council owned sites. The redevelopment of these sites is likely to have implications for the garden in its current form. There have to date been no formal plans submitted to redevelop the privately owned shopping centre site on which most of the garden is situated.