Planners offer rebuild scheme to Hackney council
THE GEORGIAN terrace on the south side of Dalston Lane may be saved from demolition.
A large number of these handsome but abused houses with shop frontages added in Victorian times are to be restored by Hackney council. Or so it is hoped: unlikely as it may seem, the regime that knocked down the Dalston Theatre seems to have developed a conservationist wing.
First, that wing has to win approval from the council’s financial committee, which will be asked in a few weeks’ time to authorise spending of at least £1 million.
The scheme also has to pass other tests to qualify for grants from government quangos.
If the rebuild is eventually completed – 2015 is an optimistic date– the houses will be let as maisonettes or flats and the shop fronts as what is inevitably termed “retail units” occupied by, the planners hope, businesses more enticing than the discount stores, nail bars and kebab stalls that make Kingsland High Street a no-go area for John Lewis, Topshop and other top brands.
The letting proposal presumes a rental demand, particularly from business. To try to predict the future, the council is paying a firm of consultants for an analysis of commercial-property trends. Ratepayers who might say that a glance at empty shops in the Kingsland Centre or in Chatsworth Road, Clapton, is a good indicator will be hoping that these professional fortune-tellers justify their fee.
The Dalston Lane terrace has endured vandalism, planning abuse and other neglect under Labour-led administrations in Hackney. It would almost certainly have vanished without the support of Open Dalston and other campaigners.
Having sold the terrace in 2002 in what looked like a fire sale (pun intended: gaps in the terrace show the effects of strange conflagrations), the council later bought the properties back, according to Open, at double what it had sold them. Or most of it: buildings west of InTing and east from TJ Cribb are privately owned.
Squatters trying to save one property are to be evicted in July.
As for the imposing Georgian terrace on the other side of Dalston Lane, the council has said little. These houses are set back behind a pleasant row of trees, from the noisy road. Their full restoration would dramatically improve the look of Dalston Lane.
David Altheer 100311