On January 21 an article appeared in the Independent newspaper that would cause any sane person to choke on their breakfast.
Entitled ‘Hipper than Hoxton: why Haggerston is the place to be’, it took its lead from the new edition of the Lonely Planet guide to London. In this book Haggerston was described as one of the “chic new neighbourhoods” that makes the capital such a “dynamic and buzzing place”.
This fabulous claim was based upon a review of one restaurant, a pub and the “thriving Saturday farmers’ market”.
In the Independent article a declaration of war was read out by the owner of the Cat and Mutton ‘gastropub’, Kevin Cooper: “Actually we are pretty much on the frontline of gentrification. The White Lightning brigade – the cider favoured by drunks and derelicts – have not entirely disappeared, but it’s now so much better than Shoreditch.”
Thanks for that contribution Kev. We would boycott the pub in protest but nobody with any taste would be seen dead in the Cat and Mutton anyway.
Still, the benefits of progress and change mean that we can now pay £3 for a cup of Caffè Latte – even if we do have to drink it in the ruins of a community.
by Paul Fitzpatrick
In a renewed bid to ‘regenerate’ Dalston plans were last year unveiled by the London Development Agency for the area just south of Dalston Junction. The development, as part of the Dalston Area Action Plan, will include housing, retail units and a new library. The development is tied in with the opening of East London Line there in 2010 and the London Olympics in 2012.
Local campaigners OPEN, while welcoming the arrival of the long-overdue Underground station, say that the proposals will have a massive impact on the environment for decades to come. It would mean the destruction of 4-14 Dalston Lane including the Dalston Theatre/4 Aces club and other historic buildings.
“We have been watching a continuing process of the municipal vandalism of our local heritage and economy and the disregard of our community’s views” says OPEN spokesman Bill Parry-Davies “This group of buildings, like many others at risk nationally, uniquely reflects local architectural, cultural and social history and lends great character to the area.”
This follows on from what many people consider the deliberate running down of (not to mention mysterious fires at) late Georgian terraces at 48-76 Dalston Lane and their subsequent cut-price sale to an off-shore company.
There are clear parallels between what happened in Broadway Market several years ago and the recent property disposals in Dalston Lane (where fourteen properties were sold to a single developer for £1.4 million less than what the local leaseholders, many of whom have now been evicted, were prepared to pay,).
The large amount of private housing (up to 450 homes) proposed for the Dalston Junction site is likely to be sold primarily to investors, ending up as buy-to-let property.The plans show tower blocks rising above the surrounding buildings.After years of pulling down high-rises in Hackney the Councils plans to build more on Dalston Lane seems misguided to say the least
OPEN recently won a court order blocking demolition of Nos. 4-14 and a judicial review is set to take place on February 6.
“We believe that the public should have a say, not just a few council officials” says Mr Parry-Davies, “the buildings potential for regeneration of the wider area is being dismissed in the name of ‘best value’ and the scramble for short-term financial gain.”
Further information: http://opendalston.blogspot.com
From the Hackney Gazette
Re your front page story (1 December, 2005) about the occupation of Francesca’s Café, 34 Broadway Market, I’d like to clarify a few things for your readers. That the local people and their friends and well-wishers have occupied the café for a ‘cause’ is quite correct. They have occupied the building to prevent its demolition in the hope that the café can be returned to Tony, so he can resume his business of 31 years.
The occupation is not therefore a ‘squat’, in the usually understood sense. People (most of whom have never done anything like this before)have been forced to take direct action to attempt to right a wrong that the legal system seems incapable of doing.
But there is another main reason for the occupation: to publicly object to the continued gentrification of the area. Hackney Council is colluding with property developers to clear out the small businesses that local working-class residents rely on, and replace them with shops that cater predominantly for rich newcomers and weekend visitors from the posher parts of Islington. They have sold under-valued properties at a cost of millions of pounds to Hackney Council Tax payers.
This so-called ‘regeneration’ is not of benefit to ordinary, local people. Not only are we poorer for the loss of these publicly-owned commercial properties, but many of the new cafes and restaurants are too expensive to eat in. Tony’s was one of the very few places on the market where people could meet and eat at affordable prices.
Hackney Independent fully supports the occupation and encourages well-wishers to visit the café for a cup of tea to find out more about what is going on.
I was slightly bemused to read Cllr Crowe’s comments about the massive sell off of council properties being down to “legally binding directions from the government”. Can she clarify for us exactly which party was running the government at the time? It is either a Labour council or a Labour governmen to blame, or probably both. As a Labour party member Cllr Crowe’s attempt to pass the buck between the two doesn’t really cut much ice.
Compared to this sort of double-speak, the clear words and actions from the protestors at 34 Broadway Market came as a breath of fresh air, and I offer them my full support.
Come and find out more about the situation in Broadway Market. After Cafe Francesca, the Nutritious Food Galley is the next targeted for eviction.
Come down and tell the Deputy Mayor of Hackney what you think!
The meeting is on January 16th 2006, from 7.30 to 9.30pm at St Michael’s Church Hall, on the corner of Lansdowne Drive and Lavender Grove, E8.
Deputy Mayor Jessica Crowe from Hackney Council will be present. The Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe and Dr Roger Wratten (current owner of 34 Broadway Market) have also been invited.
On January 3rd Spirit (of Nutritious Food Galley, 71 Broadway Market), received an eviction notice for January 20th. It is more important than ever that we tell the council what we think about the sell offs in Broadway Market and the rest of Hackney.
Come and have your say!
PROTESTERS occupying a cafe to save it from demolition have rebuilt part of the building destroyed by workmen.
The activists took over Francesca’s in Broadway Market again on Boxing Day after being kicked out by court order five days earlier.
Campaigners initially endured rain and freezing temperatures because part of the roof and back wall had been knocked down while they were locked out.
Members and supporters of the Save Broadway Market Campaign have put up another wall and strung a tarpaulin over new roof beams.
Group spokesman Arthur Shuter told the Gazette that people from the community had come forward to fund the work.
“I want to see the cafe open again for them,” he said. “We will not give in.
“Developers are tearing the community apart,” added Mr Shuter, “but we will fight them all the way.”
Francesca’s had been run for 31 years by Tony Platia until he was evicted last July when his lease ran out.
The cafe is one of a number of properties in the street owned by Dr Roger Wratten.
He would not comment on the row, but a spokesman made a statement on his behalf.
“We’re naturally disappointed at the continuing illegal occupation by the squatters,” he said, “and are reviewing the situation with our lawyers.”
Former Hackney mayor Betty Shanks has joined the campaign by demanding that her official portrait be taken down at the Mare Street town hall in protest at Hackney Council’s role in the dispute.
The 76-year-old, who was mayor in 1985, blames the problems in Broadway Market on the cheap sell-off of public properties by a cash-strapped council in 2000 and 2001.
“I have asked for my picture to be taken down,” said the great-grandmother-of-three, “because of what has happened to Francesca’s.
“The council should buy back Tony’s cafe with a compulsory purchase order,” added the former Labour councillor, “to set the situation right.”
The council says it is “unlikely” it will buy back properties in the street.
In another development, 58-year-old Lowell Grant, the proprietor of another shop in Broadway Market, the Nutritious Food Gallery, is facing eviction by other developers later this month.
Mr Grant, known as Spirit, who has run the shop for 13 years, is also being supported by the protesters. “The axe is now hanging over Spirit as well,” said Mr Shuter, “so we could be doing this all over again.