Plans are afoot in Dalston for property developer Criterion to modernise the shopping centre in Kingsland Road. This will be a housing-led development and will also include offices and approximately 500 flats. However, the improved retail complex and extra housing will come at some cost to the area with the loss of the only significant green space, the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden.
The area has seen massive amounts of regeneration in recent years, with improved transport links and new blocks of flats and bars and restaurants appearing. While many of these improvements are welcome they have changed the whole demographic of the area and sent property prices and rents skyhigh.
The projected site for the build is owned jointly by Criterion and Hackney council and the latest images of the new development show the new shopping centre situated at the bottom of blocks 14 storeys high with flats and offices above. The Curve Garden itself is to become a wide paved somewhat shady thoroughfare edged with greenery, trees and plants.
Although many local people seem not to know about the proposed development Sorrel Challands, said: “I haven’t seen the proposal for the new development but it will be a shame to lose the garden. I have been bringing my little boy here for two years.” A similar reaction was given by another local woman Claire Kent, who has been using the garden since it opened in 2010. She told The Big Issue Online Journalists that: “The new development is not necessary at all and a property developers’ idea of an affordable flat is definitely not most people’s idea of affordable – it’s all about money.”
Surprisingly the Curve Gardens manager Brian Cumming is not against the redevelopment of the shopping centre itself, but feels that the proposed green space will not be an equal replacement for the current garden. The linear pathway with planted edges will be accessible 24 hours a day and therefore prone to vandalism. He wants the plans changed so that the new green space is enclosed and managed like the present one. Brian said: “The current garden is enjoyed by all classes of people, especially our workshops. These activities will no longer be available.”
When asked about the proposed plans for the shopping centre Steve Masterson, who is part of the local residents association, said he was worried about historic buildings being lost and also about the impact of the development on local people. He said: “The extras bars and pubs that will be opened will cause noise nuisance to residents and there are a lack of services for such a large influx of people. There has been no thought to planning or outcomes.”
So local feelings are mixed, but on the whole it seems that this development is not welcome in the area although it is questionable how much the opinions of local people will count in the end.