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Dalston Eastern Curve Garden could be turned into a thoroughfare for Hackney Council’s ‘Dalston quarter’ plans

PUBLISHED: 13:50 06 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:16 07 March 2017

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Picture: Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Picture: Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Dalston’s much-loved Eastern Curve Garden could be turned into a thoroughfare as part of Hackney Council’s vision for a new “Dalston Quarter”.

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Photo Diana JarvisThe Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Photo Diana Jarvis

The plans could see the garden – which is currently enclosed – opened up as a passage for people on foot to get from one side of the development to the other without trekking up Kingsland High Street.

Hackney is consulting on what to do with the historic buildings it owns in Ashwin Street and parts of Dalston Lane, as well as the entrance to the garden and the peace mural.

But manager Marie Murray believes the Dalston Quarter plan would permanently change the garden, which was established seven years ago and now has 150,000 visitors annually.

If it stays as it is, the council will not be able to achieve any of the “wider public benefits” it hopes, like linking up the southern part of the area opposite the CLR James Library with the top half near the Kingsland Shopping Centre.

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Photo Diana JarvisThe Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Photo Diana Jarvis

The response will shape the next stage of the project, which the town hall says includes choosing a developer and launching an architectural design competition.

Marie told the Gazette: “This is being presented as the first stage in a process, but we [believe] there won’t be any garden at the end of this stage if it’s not responded to properly. That’s why we are encouraging as many people as possible to get involved.

“The personality of a space open 24 hours is very different to a space that is protected - that’s why we can grow vegetables, children can display their artworks, and we can hold huge community events like our pumpkin carving couldn’t really happen in a space where people are moving quickly through to get from A to B.

“One of the main qualities the many visitors who come to the garden value the most is the fact it is enclosed - it’s not a route, it’s a destination. It’s an intimate environment where children can play and parents are confident they are safe.

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Photo Diana JarvisThe Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Photo Diana Jarvis

Also the kind of illustrations we have seen in proposed images are much more paved – it’s something that looks a bit more like Dalston Square, which is void of greenery.”

Drop-in “think-tank” sessions are being held at the garden for people to come and have a look at the plans and have their say, and Ms Murray has been in talks with the planning department, councillors and Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville.

“Our job is to persuade them that any Dalston Quarter that’s created has to have the Dalston Eastern Curve garden as its focal point. All of us involved in the creation and nurturing of the garden consider it a right rather than a luxury for Dalston’s residents, and believe it should be permanent.”

Cllr Guy Nicholson said: “Everyone knows how popular the garden is and the real need for green spaces in Dalston, and that’s why the long term aim is to have more permanent green space in the area.”

The garden came under threat four years ago when Criterion, which runs the Kingsland Road shopping centre and owns two thirds of the garden’s land, announced plans to build a 14-storey building there and turn the garden into a thoroughfare. But the developer “went quiet”, Marie said, and the plans were never followed through.

The next drop-in sessions at the garden take place on Saturday from 2pm to 6pm.

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