From Planning Resource:
Mayor of London Boris Johnson has approved a masterplan to regenerate Woodberry Down in east London. Johnson’s green light for the London Borough of Hackney scheme means detailed planning applications can now be arranged for the rest of the development.
"Does the gentrification process bring benefits to existing and new inhabitants of an area? How much does it involve the displacement of present residents?"
If you missed Laurie Taylor and his panel of urban development experts trying to answer them last week, be sure to listen again.
From the Jewish Chronicle:
"Strictly Orthodox Jews in Hackney, North-East London, are more likely to be receiving state benefits than the general population of the borough — but much less likely to be living in social housing. According to a council study, 58.7 per cent of Charedi households received means-tested benefits compared with 38.6 per cent on average for Hackney as a whole. But only 8.5 per cent of strictly Orthodox households lived in affordable social housing compared with 44.1 per cent for Hackney as a whole."
The key factor seems to be dependence on the private rented sector. Now read on.
From OPEN Dalston:
"There is more news this week of the crises hitting the major companies involved in the housebuilding industry. Its shareholders are losing confidence and there is worrying news that Barratt's share price has crashed.Following a deal between the Hackney Council and the Greater London Authority, Barratt has commenced building 550 towerblock flats for sale in Dalston. Although the precise terms of the deal with Barratt are the subject of commercial confidentiality, reports to Hackney Council's Cabinet indicated that Council taxpayers would take some of the financial risk on the project. With the slowdown in the housing market the prospect of the Council getting our money back appears to be diminishing."
They link to a story from yesterday's Guardian which begins:
"The Financial Services Authority is closely monitoring the house building sector as the value of the big construction firms continued to shrink today. Britain's bruised and battered housebuilders suffered another torrid day on the stock market after Merrill Lynch warned that the housing market could face a repeat of the 1990s crash. Some £5bn has been wiped off the value off the big builders, including Persimmon, Barratt Developments and Taylor Wimpey since the beginning of this year. Many analysts believe the firms, which have lost £15bn in value since last summer, are close to breaching their banking agreements."
For more on Barratt, read on.
From Easier Property:
"As well as possessing excellent design and specification, Kinetica also benefits from a great location. Situated on Ramsgate Street E8 and close to Dalston Lane and Kingsland High Street, Kinetica’s completion in early 2010 should coincide with the opening of the extended East London line. The new Dalston Junction station will be just around the corner from the development, providing fast and frequent trains to Hoxton, Shoreditch and Bishopsgate, then all the way down to New Cross, Crystal Palace and South London.
Kinetica is also very handy for a collection of excellent bars, restaurants and amenities, including high street shops, lively street markets such as the Ridley Road market, an independent cinema, and the green spaces of Hackney Downs and London Fields, with its newly refurbished art deco Lido."
Mr Rosen? Are you there?
Two week ago at my local blog, I linked to an article in Socialist Worker by Michael Rosen. In it, the distinguished children’s author and broadcaster resumed his long-running opposition to a major regeneration project in Dalston, east London, where he lives and which lies within walking distance from my home in another part of Hackney.
My recent link to Michael Rosen's article about the Dalston project for Socialist Worker prompted a fascinating and passionate comment thread, embracing most of the competing arguments about how best to bring prosperity to inner-city neighbourhoods. I'm now working on a piece for the Guardian examining those arguments a bit more closely, and invited Jules Pipe to offer a quote or two by way of defence against Michael's criticisms. He ended up doing a little more than that and, with his blessing, I reproduce it in full below.
The other year I attended the opening of Gillett Square in Dalston. Formerly a run down car-park and prostitutes’ haunt, the site had been transformed by the then Mayor of London’s 100 Public Spaces project into a vibrant urban square with the new Vortex jazz club as its anchor tenant and small retail units for local businesses. Hundreds of residents gathered to celebrate, and seemed genuinely bemused by the bedraggled handful of protestors huddled in the corner of the square carrying banners accusing myself and Ken Livingstone of "regenocide." To the majority they were baffling. How could anybody object to such an obvious manifestation of positive change?
But object a handful do, and Michael Rosen’s ill-informed stance against the Dalston development is just the latest example of the "Keep Hackney Crap" mentality so beloved of the borough’s far left contingent. The premise of Mr Rosen’s argument is an absurdist fantasy. The idea that Hackney Council is motivated by the desire to line the pockets of big business at the expense of residents is only slightly less inventive than the myriad factual inaccuracies and unsubstantiated opinions that make up his article and subsequent posts. I suppose it makes a change from the other common charge of being in the pay of big business.
The Dalston development is being driven by the improvements in transport infrastructure that I and many residents have long been campaigning for, and that will genuinely transform the local economy. When the new tube line and station was proposed, there was the choice between an ugly, wide, railway cutting that TfL stated they would never allow to be built over at a later date, or a brand new development of housing, retail and a new library above the station. Unsurprisingly, the Council chose the latter and, like it or not, it was a decision made with the best interests of the borough at heart.
Another perverse target of Mr Rosen is the rubbishing of the East London Line Extension. Yes, it is being branded by TfL as “London Overground”. But, with an eventual 16 trains per hour going south from Dalston and joining what has been regarded as a tube line for decades, does it really deserve sneering observations about it being a “non-tube line”?
The problem with opinions like Mr Rosen’s is that they polarise the debate and serve to obscure the genuine concerns of local residents who want to see improvement in the area, but at the same time are worried by the effects of rising housing costs, and their fear that they or their children will be priced out of the area. Home ownership in places like Hackney is already well out of the reach of many local people. The greatest community cohesion challenge we face is ensuring our borough does not become a place accessible only to wealthy homeowners or those eligible for social housing. And before Mr Rosen cries “the answer is to build more council housing”, Hackney already has the highest percentage of social housing of any London borough and continues to build more, albeit through housing associations, including more family-sized homes than anywhere else in the capital.
As well as more affordable homes we need to increase access to intermediate housing. It means stimulating the local economy and creating more jobs to lift people out of poverty. It means continuing the rapid improvements in educational attainment and aspiration so that every young person in Hackney has access to the opportunities that the capital has to offer. Sadly for Mr Rosen and his fellow travellers, it’s going to take a lot more than a lick of paint and few trolley buses to achieve the economic transformation that the East End has needed and deserved for the last century.
My usual comments policy applies: all are welcome as long as they're interesting and reasonably polite. Guardian piece to follow.
From The Times:
"Things were looking promising: it was within my original budget (very, very rare), it was in Victoria Park in Hackney, which is one of my top locations (huge leafy park, nice cafés and rows of big Victorian houses), and there would be no agents' fees. As I practically skipped to the viewing, along a gorgeous street of large terraced houses, I realised that the house number I was looking for was above a shop. I remained optimistic because the shop was disused and looked a bit Eighties, the antithesis of the uniform new-builds that I hate. There was no doorbell so I telephoned the landlord. He answered the door and, although friendly, reeked of stale booze and needed a shave. I was a tiny bit frightened."
And he had eleven cats. Now read on.
A view from the left by Michael Rosen:
"As I watched Ken Livingstone’s eyes water at the sight of Boris Johnson giving his victory speech, my feelings of sympathy were halted by the thought of some new signs that have gone up near me. One says, “A stunning new development at the heart of the regeneration of Dalston” and the other says, “Dalston Square – marketing suite open. These signs represent Livingstone’s – and New Labour’s – idea of reform and progress. This is what they offer us as a reason to vote for them. And then they wonder why Labour voters stay away in droves – or worse – turn rightwards hoping they’ll get a better deal."
Now read on.