I was up in London today and had a look around Dalston in Hackney. Busy busy busy, at least it was along Kingsland Road near Dalston Junction. Ridley Road market was busy too as is normal for a Saturday. Wow, the ripe peppers look good! And what do you know? They have finally opened Dalston Junction station again which now links Dalston to Canary Wharf. No wonder the property prices have shot up.
Just by Dalston Junction station they have built a new apartment complex named Dalston Square. Not really in keeping with the other buildings but it will pack in the people who work in Canary Wharf. It simultaneously amuses and irritates me that the façade along the front of Dalston Square has pictures of famous London sites presumably to suggest that Dalston Square is itself in the same league as the fabulous Gothic St. Pancras Station. A little further down Dalston Lane, before Queensbridge Road, there have always been some old shops. Music systems, Jerk chicken, various stuff which gave the area some character. It seems that the houses behind them, known as Dalston Lane Terraces, are Grade 2 listed and have been left empty and are becoming derelict. The council sold them but bought them back recently and now the squatters who occupy some of them have received court papers to try and get them out.
The squatters say that they have been contributing to the community especially in the arts. They want to stay in the properties until renovation work commences and will allow access to surveyors. They are concerned that if they are thrown out then the buildings will rapidly degrade. They state that in the past squatters have been evicted from other buildings only for the council to render buildings uninhabitable by filling drains with concrete and removing cabling.
The squatters say that they are keen to talk to the council but that it has been difficult to “open a channel of communication” and they have now started a petition.
Given the way that buildings have been demolished to make way for Dalston Square and the huge gaps in the Dalston skyline where other buildings have been demolished it is understandable that one might think that the real motive for evicting the squatters is to demolish the buildings to build another high rise, faceless, well appointed bunch of rabbit hutches.
Check out http://dalstonlane.tumblr.com/ for more information.