A £30 MILLION skyscraper that would change the face of Dalston is proposed for Kingsland High Street.
The block of offices, shop and flats, including family-size affordable homes, would rise to six floors where the store Peacocks stands and at Dalston Kingsland station – and 17 at its rear.
Promotional material for the building, showing it draped in luxuriant verdure, is dripping with fashionable terms such as “green roof spaces”, “biodiversity” and “communal spaces for residents”.
Planning permission has not been sought yet.
The high-rise would add colour and movement to a town-centre as ugly as any in zone 2 of London. Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, told this website: “As a Dalston resident I would give a cautious welcome to this development, because it would mean an upgrade of the Dalston Kingsland station, which I use regularly. But I would like to know more.”
The site-owner Rothas Ltd admits that it has never erected a building since it was set up as a subsidiary of Structadene, a property company that evolved in Hackney in 1965.
To counter the suspicion that Rothas is interested only in selling the site on, its spokesman told Loving Dalston: “Should we succeed in securing planning, we are committed to starting the scheme in 2012.” The “once-in-a-generation opportunity” would enable “transport and public-realm upgrades in Dalston”.
The architecture firm that designed the block for Rothas is BFLS, based in Paddington, Prague and Hong Kong. It has designed buildings around the world, including, its website states, a Libyan government office in Tripoli.
Rothas has hired Four Communications (FourCom) to promote the Dalston project. The West End-based lobbyist speaks of an “enviable track record in winning “political and community support for planning applications for sensitive schemes” and instances its help in winning planning consent for schemes “despite local opposition”.
FourCom has also been campaigning in Stoke Newington for a property investment company that has applied for planning permission for a Sainsbury’s supermarket and flats on a site in Wilmer Place, N16 0LQ. Diane Abbott has joined local councillors in expressing doubts about the consultation for this scheme.
FourCom employs two Hackney councillors. Alan Laing, of Hackney Central ward, is an associate director and Karen Alcock, of Clissold ward, works part-time for FourCom. The link precludes both of them from any role in Wilmer Place planning decisions.
FourCom told Loving Dalston: “It is not unusual for people with experience in politics to choose a career in public relations.”
Whatever lobbying occurs, reactions to the Dalston proposal will vary. Richard Abbott, HBV Enterprise chief executive, said that more residential units could benefit local businesses. Larry Julian, Ridley Road Market Traders Association chairman, told Loving Dalston: “It looks like another building that will take the character out of the area.”
The news that Peacocks this week entered administration after failing to restructure £240 million of debt will raise worries that unless the the premises are let to another company the site may stand emtpy for several years.
David Altheer 270811
* The planning application for 51-57 Kingsland High Street, Dalston E8 2JS, has now been made. No 2011/3439 is on line at Hackney’s planning site. Comments should be made by Tues 31 Jan 2012. Late submissions are usually also acknowledged, within reason.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.