Greens stage demo outside Hackney Council’s ‘Dalston Conversation’ exercise, urging them to ‘get tough on developers’

Hackney Green party members stand outside the Petchey Academy in the rain ahead of the Dalston Conve

Hackney Green party members stand outside the Petchey Academy in the rain ahead of the Dalston Conversation event. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

The Green Party staged a demo outside a council consultation about the future of Dalston on Tuesday night, urging them to “get tough on developers”.

Town hall chiefs had invited people to the Petchey Academy to hear about their “ambitions” for Dalston, in an exercise dubbed the “Dalston Conversation”. The aim is to let those who live, work or visit the area influence the council’s plans for it, amid a boom in population and interest from developers.

The latest consultation comes after hundreds of people expressed “strong distrust” in its first one a year ago, which had proposed a “new cultural area” dubbed the Dalston Quarter, which could have seen the Curve Garden turned into a thoroughfare.

Paediatric A&E doctor Alex Armitage, who stood to be a councillor for the Greens in the ward in May, is urging the council to “resist further gentrification and social cleansing” there.

He told the Gazette: “In recent years the council’s planning documents have allowed private developers to build huge blocks of luxury flats that have encroached on and replaced our cultural spaces, our heritage buildings and our homes.

“We still have a fantastically diverse and creative community in Dalston, but we need our green spaces, our studios, our venues and our market stalls to be protected from developers, who wish to profit from the value that our community has created.”

He wants to see the council furnished with some kind of power to refuse planning applications. If a development meets planning law criteria, it can’t easily be refused by the planning committee. But Alex pointed out Hackney has “consistently failed to deliver” its own target of 50pc affordable housing in new housing developments.

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Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville said he “fully respects” the right to protest: “Hackney has been sustained throughout its history by the spirit of dissent and campaigning,” he said. “But protesting will only get us so far. It has to be backed up by conversations and detailed policy work, which looks at what we are for not just what we are against. “Rather than just protesting, the Labour council I lead will take action to ensure that through the Dalston Conversation we work with the community and that the growth of Dalston brings local jobs, better public spaces and protects the cultural and community institutions that local people value.”