THE SAGA of the Georgian terrace in Dalston Lane, potentially a jewel of the district’s architectural heritage, may be reaching its last chapter.
There is not space here to give all the details, only to say that the story is one of Hackney incompetence and dreary consultation meetings, failed negotiations with private owners, a dubious auction, offshore ownership, the erection of the inappropriate Peabody Trust chequered building, chunks removed by mysterious fires, bewildered traders, costly pavement reshaping, conservation-minded squatters and compulsory purchase by the council.
It even led to the setting-up of an organisation, OpenDalston, to fight to save the terrace as well as a huge adjacent Victorian theatre, since demolished for the Barratt housing estate marketed as Dalston Square.
Now the council, as present owner of 48-76 Dalston Lane, has applied to itself for permission, as it must. Its plans for the terrace from no 48 (Hy-Tek Electronics) to the boarded-up section at 76 (just east of the Ganges takeaway restaurant) can be seen on line but here is a summary:
The facades, including the Victorian shop extensions at pavement level, will be kept: the terrace will continue to be used as shops and flats.
The architect, Child Graddon Lewis, of Spitalfields, has tackled the problem of the fire gap with a three-house slab of grey that looks like something from one of the Blair government’s shiny academy schools. The gaps elsewhere in the terrace will be filled with transparent stairwells.
That’s the good part. The rear will be demolished for a miss-mash of styles that give limited notice to the fundament of Georgian design, vertical lines, as it blocks them with square frames that have could been inspired by the dashboard of a 1970s mass-market motor car.
Local people may see it as the kind of unimaginative commercial design that Hackney too often attracts.
Perhaps suffering locals should be relieved that the discredited PostModernism has not been raised from the grave. It has around the corner: in Tyssen Street planning application 2012/1449 proposes fiddling with the Alpha House facade and whacking up a total of seven floors of offices and flats behind it. A pity, given that the windmill building next door is, whatever its silly whimsies, not unimaginative.
David Altheer 280612
* The deadline for comments on 2012/1739, 48-76 Dalston Lane, Hackney E8 3AH, is Tuesday 10 July 2012, but Hackney planning tolerates late submissions.
* 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.