Another moneymaker show lands in Dalston

THE LATEST development proposal for Dalston has been unveiled: a nine-floor complex of 77 flats and offices designed by a local architect for a shy property investor.

The plans by Levitt Bernstein of Dalston are for three buildings on a site within a V-shaped corner of an old railway line, a route now called the Eastern Curve. They would sit on the 0.2-hectare site of Thames House, a defunct warehouse in tiny Hartwell Street E8 3DU. The site is next to the vacant lot in Dalston Lane chosen for a Premier Inn.

Levitt Bernstein staff led the unveiling, in the dimly lit Eastern Curve Garden, as did a large number of consultants. Architects and consultants were similarly on hand at the public launch this summer of the Chinese Lantern for the Peacocks site and, as in that case, the men in suits did not like obvious questions such as “If you seek local opinions, why does your proposal specify a building higher than recommended in the Dalston Area Action Plan?”

The answer, incidentally, is that the action plan was only “guidance”. Indeed, said one architect, the owner had wanted to apply for permission for 14 floors, six more than the action plan’s wish.

Who was the owner, a local asked two decorative young men sent by prestige estate agent Savills UK, presumably in hope of creaming fees from any sale of the land if Hackney grants planning permission. They looked at each other and mumbled that they did not know.

Top, the three blocks proposed for site of the steel-framed ruin above

His representative at the consultation was reluctant to give any details. “ He is,” the non-mouthpiece said, “a private individual”, more of an investor than a developer. Loving Dalston can reveal that his name is Isaac Benaim, of Golders Green, north London.

As for the increasingly meaningless concept of “affordable housing” that the scheme includes, nobody at the consultation could put a figure to “affordable”.

Loving Dalston established that 19 flats would be set aside, possibly for sale to a housing association. Nobody could give even an approximate figure for such a  sale. They said, however, that an association would probably let some of the flats and offer the others for shared ownership.

The flats would have one, two and three bedrooms. Price range… rough figures? Again, the small army of people present to promote the scheme was silent. An estimate based on, say, the prices of the Barratt development 100m away was also beyond these self-styled property experts.

Disabled access looks promising. Only two cars owned by disabled people, will be allowed in the complex. (This may in itself, of course, attract complaints of discrimination.)

The architect said that the complex would be “built to high sustainability standards” and 95 bicycles spaces created in the basement: undercover and behind a secure gate.

The Hackney retail scene is mordant, so office use rather than shops was, said the scheme’s promoters, most likely for the 900 sq m of commercial space.

If Benaim goes ahead with a planning application, he will hope by then to have a developer interested. Telford, which built the nearby the 14-storey Kinetica “windmill” block, is being approached.

* Hamish Scott 051112

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