Dalston Carbuncle - Greenwash, Greed and Grey Politics


Dalston Carbuncle

Greenwash, Greed and Grey Politics


The rush to cash in on Hackney's open door development policy is escalating as speculators pay PR corporations to front big projects. Labour councillor Karen Allcock was replaced as Hackney Deputy Mayor after her role at Four Communications was revealed. She and fellow Labour Councillor Alan Laing are employed by the public relations company that is fronting both the Stoke Newington Sainsburys and now the fanciful 'Dalston Green' 18 story towerblock. The council says neither Laing nor Allcock are directly involved in either project but they are both paid Four Communications, the PR consultants retained by both developers.



The proposed Stoke Newington Sainsburys has met huge opposition from thousands of local people concerned at further corporate control of their local economy. The new Dalston towerblock, cynically marketed 'Dalston Green', is depicted draped in vegetation against a grey backdrop. This is New Labour corporate greenwash par excellence. Even neighbouring street trees are pictured grey to make the beacon of green stand out. Of course Dalston Green is a lie. It is not possible to clad tall buildings in greenery. Whilst some green walls are possible they take great resources to up keep and cannot be done at this sort of elevation. Indeed the depiction isn't even a green wall but rather fantasy trees and shrubs on top of roof gardens and balconies. What the PR doesn't concern itself with is where this vegetation will end up after a mild storm, let alone a serious gale force wind.



The Dalston tower block is a Torjan Horse. The first attempt to get planning permission for a new Dalston high rise. The dishonesty of the PR, going so far as to call it 'Dalston Green', is telling. The lies attempt to hide the truth. This is multi-million pound, profit led, housing scam that will do absolutely nothing for local people or the homeless. The plan is for 130 flats including £1m penthouses with private entrance. Only 17 flats are 'affordable', New Labour spin for poor yuppy. 30% of the flats are so small they don't even meet minimum standards. The whole thing is a transparent private developer money grab. They estimate their profit at £10m. There's also a £500k sweetner for LBH and Transport for London. The architects were slated recentlyfor their Starta Tower in Elepahant & Castle.



It isn't hard to understand why these utterly unsustainable, anti-community corporate nightmares are big on PR and spin. They need to hide their greed behind Dalston Greenwash. The interesting question is why Four Communications employ Hackney Labour councillors as account directors. Presumably they get something worth paying for.



Much of the information in this blog comes from the Open Dalston blogspot.  Support thier campaign against this insane, profit grabbing scam.  Sign the petition and get you objectionin before the deadline (Fri 24.2.12).  Stokey Local are fighting the SN Sainsburys.

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Comment by Teddy Sawyer on March 4, 2012 at 21:47

   There is now no counter-force to Capital and financial interests. The Trade Union movement has been, with the aid of the BBC, eviscerated, and the voluntary sector and community action milieu is destroying itself from within. The former never engaged fully with a discussion about the quality or nature of human social life the latter rarely made the effort to transcend its own spectrum of interest.

So we sink into the fascist death-grip. (mort-gage)

Comment by Benjamin Counsell on March 2, 2012 at 7:31

Cars are not essential - human beings are. If planning decisions are made with environmental considerations at the fore, car use can be limited. I'm surprised that you cannot see that if people aren't permitted to live in large numbers in inner London then sprawl will result and road building and car use increase.

"Hackney is the 4th most densely populated borough in London"

Since no-one is arguing that high-rise/high-density developments should only be built in Hackney, I don't see your point. Densities in all inner London boroughs need to be increased. And I'm all for council and housing association developments including Peabody's 14 storey Pembury Circus soon to be started. Do you oppose that?

There's only one sure way to push poor people out of an increasingly popular area, and that's to prevent building there. You are promoting exactly what you claim to oppose - limiting housing supply and exacerbating inflation on the one hand, and promoting urban sprawl with its dependency on roads and car use, on the other.

Is this official Sustainable Hackney policy now?

Comment by Russell Miller on March 1, 2012 at 23:04

Years ago the car fanatics had to concede building roads just created car use.  It didn't reduce traffic jams.  Speculative property development doesn't solve housing problems.  The profit and debt private housing market in the UK is a model of how not to do things.  Unfortunately, because we live in a dictatorship of capital and its servants, rather than a rational representative democarcy, the housing market scam continues to destroty cities and countryside alike whilst at no time providing any solution to 'the housing crisis'. Indeed that's also why after winning the road building debate in the 1990s policy again reverted back to road building.  Greed doesn't listen to reason.

Capitalism requires crisis.  Crisis permits short term stupid decisions to be made which would not be contemplated under a long term rational planning system.  Planning, like everything else now, answers only to the money men.  Capital needs wars, debt, famine and housing crisies.  It cannot and will not solve them.

And in case you want some facts to prove the Dalston towerblock is NOT needed:

  • Hackney is the 4th most densely populated borough in London
  • LBH has consistently permitted more housing development, year on year, than is required even by the London Plan's excessive targets
  • Islington is building Council houses and does not breach its own development policies to encourage anti-social development.


Hackney and Dalston do not need tower blocks.  The ONLY reasons to build these tower blocks are: a) to make £10m for the developers and b) to economically ethnically and socailly cleanse Hackney of its diverse, radical and rebellious population in favour of rich, City incomers.

Comment by Benjamin Counsell on February 29, 2012 at 9:28

But Holly Street estate was always predominantly low-to-medium-rise. And I note that the "new" design doesn't include the large open public green spaces that used to be there.

You're attempting to defy the laws of spatial physics. If you think you can design a shorter building for the Kingsland site which contains the same number and size of homes, why not try? If developers could fit the same number of homes, of the same size, in low-medium-rise than they can in high-rise, why would they ever go to the trouble and expense of building up?

Comment by James Diamond on February 29, 2012 at 8:56

We only have to look to the Holly Street Estate to see an example of replacement of high-rise development with medium and low-rise development of similar density.

Comment by Benjamin Counsell on February 28, 2012 at 19:11

James, it is impossible to achieve the 130 homes that this proposal does in anything smaller. All other things being equal, high-rise will always house more than medium-rise, and medium-rise will always house more than low-rise. Therefore any lessening of height will have a knock-on effect in terms of urban sprawl.

The only way to have high-density in low-rise would be to make rooms miniscule - we already have the smallest room sizes in western Europe.

What you deem "appropriate for the area" is entirely subjective. If ones aim is to merely create a homogenous low-rise streetscape, then yes, the proposal is inappropriate. But if ones aim is to address the chronic and dire housing shortage in a way that limits carbon emmissions then it is entirely appropriate.

Comment by James Diamond on February 28, 2012 at 10:22

Benjamin, you are setting up a false dichotomy by saying "if you're not for this particular development then you want to build on green belt".  It is perfectly possible to have medium or even high density development on low-medium-rise sites, and which is appropriate for the area.

Comment by Benjamin Counsell on February 28, 2012 at 8:23

That's a shame. The "worst-case scenario" of low-rise urban sprawl it is then.

Perhaps you should go out to green-belt currently under threat and explain to its residents why you oppose high-density living in inner London and why their fields will soon be covered in little houses and new roads?

I find it a tragedy that well-intentioned "environmentalists" are unwittingly promoting the worst kind of development.

Good luck with the agrarian utopian revolution.

Comment by Russell Miller on February 27, 2012 at 22:17

Well we will just have to disagree Benjamin.  I do not believe money grabbing projects like this which are designed to create expensive flats at maximum profit are socially or environmentally positive in any way at all. If you want to reduce carbon emmissions you stop building huge, energy intensive buildings with concrete and steel.  You stop encouraging profiteering in housing.  You stop promoting single occupancy flats and multi property ownership.  The proposed Dalston towerblock is all of those things and fits perfectly with the smash and grab capitalist insanity that Tories and New Labour propmote due to their joint vested financial interests. Steal what you can today, shaft someone else tomorrow, and not a thought for anyone's future.

High rise, high density private housing is not a solution to anything.  They increase carbon emissions not reduce them.  What the do do is make someone a lot of money.  It's just like arguing for Nuclear power.  More insanity dressed up as a solution to a problem created by insanity. Sincere sustainable urban planning is not capitalist business as usual with some PR window dressing.  Sustainable means one planet, now.

As for high density accomodation near public transport and jobs, that's just another urban planner's fantsay.  The people this social engeneering displaces are poor and consume less (i.e. carbon and everything else).  Planners and politicians ignore the poor because they have no power. Instead they serve the wealthy.  The wealthy, wherever they live, consume more because they have the power to do so.  This is market led destruction.  The idea that this or any other speculative private profit housing development is sustainable or green is mad.  It is maddness like this, rationalising the insane, that stops us making the fundamental changes that are needed.

In recent years Hackney has blown up 8 tower blocks of social housing (NIghtingale estate, Clapton Park, Holly Street).  Destroying council housing and building new, very expensive tower blocks is social engineering on a mass scale AND it massively increases consumption.

Comment by Benjamin Counsell on February 27, 2012 at 11:42

Russell, whilst I agree with you that councillors and PR companies shouldn't mix, I don't think one can make an environmental case against this proposal. In fact I think that anyone who has a sincere interest in seeing environmentally sustainable urban planning should be supporting this project. The greenest thing about this plan isn't the green roof or foliage, but is the fact that it is high-rise and high-density and therefore accommodates a large number of people close to jobs and public transport and therefore does not exacerbate low-rise urban sprawl which the European Environment Agency calls "the worst-case scenario". I think we do need this building and lots more similar ones in inner London if we are to reduce carbon emissons.

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