Developers’ proposal for site opposite Dalston’s Rio Cinema faces opposition from local residents

Pic: Trash World

Pic: Trash World

A plan to develop the site opposite the Rio Cinema on Kingsland Road is being fought by residents. Two similar applications have previously been rejected.

Developers Crystal Property (London) Limited have submitted a proposal for the property known as Morris House at 130 Kingsland Road. It outlines: “erection of a part single, part 5-storey building providing retail use on ground floor and offices on upper floors, with associated car parking, cycle parking and waste storage”.

Max Oppenheim, a concerned local resident, says that like the two previous applications, the proposal fails to provide architectural merit.

“I am opposing the development as a local resident who cares about the built environment in Dalston.

“The listed Rio cinema opposite should be complimented by a well considered building that does not jar with the handsome Victorian terraces.

“A modern building can work of course – but a building on a key site of this nature should enhance this cultural centre of Dalston. This will take investment, something that has been lacking in the application so far.

“We don’t want another generic Tesco with a cheap building on top – the residents want to see inspiring and sympathetic architecture.

“It is still too high: the 5 storey proposal should be reduced to 4 storeys. It’s simply too big.”

A spokesperson for Crystal Property said: “We find the whole thing quite strange considering the application meets completely with the Area Action Plan (AAP).”

“This site [Morris House] was given consent for taller buildings twice in the past. Both in 1990 and in 2003 an application was approved for six storey developments. In 2003, the council consulted 48 local residents and had not one objection.

Residents have expressed concern that the drawings submitted with the application do not reflect how the final building will look.

Oppenheim said:  “It will definitely be taller. You can’t fit five storeys, with trunking and everything else into that space.”

The disputed elevation drawing.

The disputed elevation drawing.

The Crystal Properties’ spokesperson said: “The plans have been drawn up by an architect, so they can’t say that’s not how it would look. Plans don’t show the details of a project, it’s just a dotted line. It’s an outline with all matters reserved that simply re-establishes planning consent as planning applications are only valid for three years.

Comments on the proposal closed on April 1. Residents submitted a petition containing over 100 signatures, along with an estimated 15 objection letters.

Oppenheim says this is fewer objections than generated by the previous applications, adding: “little has changed in the proposal, the applicants are grinding down opposition with repetition.”

The Crystal Properties spokesperson said: “There are four other sites along Kingsland High Street identified as suitable for four to six storey buildings. This is the only site that is deemed a gateway site, an opportunity site, and a key corner. It is going to be developed, it’s that simple; it’s nothing to do with grinding anyone down.

“If it’s rejected, we will resubmit the application the very same day and we will be looking to the council for the cost of the appeal on the grounds that the previous appications were dismissed unfairly.”

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