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Campaigners accuse Hackney Council of selling off land for kids’ playground in Dalston

PUBLISHED: 12:38 06 March 2013 | UPDATED: 12:38 06 March 2013

Art studios at 69-71 Dalston Lane.

Art studios at 69-71 Dalston Lane.

Archant

Campaigners have accused Hackney Council of reneging on its promises and attempting to sell off land earmarked for a children’s playground to a private developer.

Maurice Investments Ltd has submitted a planning application to build 117 flats in a five to 10-storey Dalston Lane development which will also include business and retail space.

But Bill Parry-Davies, from planning campaign group OPEN Dalston, is concerned there are no plans for a children’s playground within the application for the site, which is partly owned by the council.

He believes the council’s Dalston Area Action Plan (DAAP), which defines planning strategy in that area, specifies that a playground for children aged 12 and over should be built within the proposed site, which would be called Ritson Place.

A council spokeswoman said an exact location has still not been identified for the playground, but that it would be included in what is known as the Eastern Curve public realm redevelopment of the Kingsland Shopping Centre (KSC) to the north and west of the application site.

But Mr Parry-Davies said the DAAP acknowledges that development of the KSC site may never happen, and he does not believe the council owns any land in that area.

“The remaining sites on the Eastern Curve have already been developed without a playground,” he said.

“The council is seeking to postpone playground provision until the KSC development which, they admit, may never happen.”

He continued: “Hackney knows there is a desperate shortage of play space, but it is now seeking to renege on its promises and maximise the sale price of its land.”

OPEN Dalston has also criticised council planners for departing “radically” from the council’s DAAP guidelines for the conservation area in terms of housing density, priority employment use, affordable housing and building height.

While the DAAP specifies buildings in the area should not exceed six storeys, planning officers have recommended the 10-storey scheme is given the green light.

There will be no affordable workspace as part of the development and only 15 flats – or 12 per cent of the total – will be for “affordable” rent.

The campaign group has also raised concerns that the priority employment area will see a 60 per cent reduction in employment space.

The 60 artists who currently work there stand to lose their studios, but according to OPEN Dalston this figure has not been included in the application.

More than 200 people have signed a petition against the development on the site, which contains large industrial buildings, a van rental company and a car park.

A decision is due to be made about the application at a council planning committee meeting tonight.

Maurice Investments Ltd declined to comment.


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