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Dalston Quarter: Hackney Council to consult again after it admits confusing people

PUBLISHED: 12:19 29 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:13 29 November 2017

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston Lane. Picture: Donald Judge/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston Lane. Picture: Donald Judge/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0

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Hackney Council is set to hold yet another consultation on its proposed “new cultural area” dubbed the Dalston Quarter – after hundreds of people expressed “strong distrust” in its first.

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Picture: Alper �ugun/Flickr/Creative Commons (licence CC BY 2.0)Dalston Eastern Curve Garden. Picture: Alper �ugun/Flickr/Creative Commons (licence CC BY 2.0)

Many of the 2,136 respondents also fear the area’s already “distinct” culture could be wiped out if “an excessively commercial approach” is taken to regeneration.

The consultation held in March broached what to do with the council’s historic buildings in Ashwin Street and parts of Dalston Lane - an area including the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, Arcola Theatre, Bootstrap workspace and Café Oto.

The response was supposed to have shaped the next stage of the project, which the town hall said involved “choosing a developer and launching an architectural design competition”.

But another consultation is now in the pipeline because of the “scale and nature of the feedback”.

The council has conceded many people had “struggled to engage” with the first consultation “in a meaningful way” because of the “technical language and confusion about what sites were included”.

"Many respondents felt the document was deliberately written to be unclear. [...] A strong distrust in the motives of the council was also put across."

Hackney Council report on the Dalston Quarter consultation

The map didn’t initially include the Curve garden, which when it was subsequently added people realised it could be turned into a thoroughfare.

Hackney Council admitted in a report: “Many respondents felt the document was deliberately written to be unclear, providing misleading information as a Trojan horse to allow for the introduction of commercial development to replace existing organisations.

“Many respondents believed this was a purely commercial exercise for the council to sell off the land for private development. A strong distrust in the motives of the council was also put across.”

Green Party campaigner Dr Alex Armitage is against further council-led redevelopment of the area, saying the Curve Garden’s “highly successful grassroots model of development”, which attracts 150,000 visitors a year, is the way forward.

He said: “We must learn from the failures of the Dalston Square development with its single-occupancy bus station and lengthening list of restaurants that have gone out of business.”

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