Additional reporting by Jessica Abrahams, George Lindsay-Watson
Councillors blocked the building of an 18-storey skyscraper on Dalston’s high street last night, after it emerged the Council had turned down the offer of affordable housing within the development.
The unanimous decision drew cheers and applause from those watching in the packed council chamber.
At a meeting of the planning sub-committee, chairman councillor Vincent Stops recommended that members vote against the proposals for Kingsland High Street on the basis of the tower block’s appearance and lack of affordable housing.
Councillor Barry Buitekant said: “It is completely the wrong application for this area. It is too large and it is too bulky.”
The 50-metre high glass tower block was planned for the site of the current Peacocks shop. It would have offered 130 residential flats on sale for around £400,000 each, split between two different blocks with a garden in between.
With Rothas Limited, the company behind the plans, offering to pay for an upgrade of Dalston Kingsland station, protestors accused the council of being in the company’s pocket.
It emerged during the meeting that the company had offered to include affordable housing in their plans for the site but the council had turned it down in favour of a station upgrade.
Cllr Buitekant commented: “If the developer wasn’t paying £1.7 million for the station development would the planning committee still be would the council be supporting this application?”
One protester told the committee: “It’s the equivalent to giving up the welfare of the area for a boiled sweet.”
Network Rail, who refused to fund the upgrade of the station itself, backed the exchange. Transport for London and the Greater London Authority also offered their support.
However, locals and councillors argued that affordable housing is a priority for Dalston and the wider Hackney community.
A petition carried out by OPEN Dalston, a campaign group opposed to the plans, received 1,328 signatures from local residents. The council received 106 letters of objection, including one from English Heritage, compared with eight in support.
One protestor, who formerly worked at the council, said: “The way the developers have disregarded English Heritage throughout this process has been appalling and smacks of the corruption of old Hackney. It shows that nothing’s changed.”
Speaking at the meeting Bill Parry-Davies, a founding member of OPEN Dalston, said: “The council should refuse the application because of the lack of public consultation, the poor design of the building and the zero per cent of affordable housing.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get this [regeneration] right and this scheme will not achieve that.”
OPEN Dalston member Catherine Bond claimed that the skyscraper would “harm the setting of a number of heritage assets,” including a Grade II listed primary school, the Jewish burial ground in Islington and the De Beauvoir Conservation Area.
After the meeting, Russell Miller, chair of Sustainable Heritage, said: “I think it’s a very a positive decision and demonstrates that the planning officers were far too close to the developers.”
Campaign leader Mr Parry-Davies added: “I’m reeling at the moment. We are going to celebrate Dalston’s victory for social and environmental justice.”
The applicant has the right to appeal the decision. It is not yet known if they will do so.