Dalston is Hackney’s largest town centre offering a mix of creative, cultural and community enterprises, shops and services located along Kingsland Road and Kingsland High Street and east-west routes.

The town centre has a strong cultural identity revolving around creative and third sector industries and organisations. Dalston’s special character is defined by the unique mix of high-quality architecture and built heritage, a good retail offer including Kingsland High Street and Ridley Road Market and its lively night-time economy focused around Gillett Square and Kingsland High Street.

Dalston is changing

Over the last decade, the profile of Hackney’s largest town centre has transformed as it has become a more popular place to live, work and visit, a hub for creative industries and cultural organisations, and a destination for entertainment and nightlife

This change has provided major benefits – a bigger range of businesses on the high street, job opportunities for local people in a growing town centre, and better connections with the rest of London through improved transport infrastructure.

But it has also created challenges. The pace of change and growing population has highlighted issues like the housing shortage affecting all of Hackney and London, the pressure on the management of public spaces, and longstanding issues such as the relative lack of green spaces and poor connections around the town centre.

Most importantly, it has led to concerns that Dalston’s unique character – and some of the places and facilities that are most valued locally – may be under threat.

More change is on the way, as the borough’s population continues to grow, landowners put forward proposals on sites they own, and our high streets and town centres adapt to the short and long-term impacts of the coronavirus crisis.

Dalston Conversation

As we rebuild from the pandemic and work to deliver a fair recovery for Dalston, it’s more important than ever that the views and priorities of the local community are at the heart of the future of Dalston.

Over the last four years we’ve worked with local people, organisations and businesses to ensure our plans for Dalston help address the area’s shortcomings, build on its opportunities and safeguard the things people value most.

The Dalston Conversation was launched in September 2018 so local people could tell us what they love about Dalston, the challenges they experience, and what changes they would like to see us make in the area. It became the Council’s biggest ever local engagement exercise, with around 5,000 people taking part.

The Dalston Plan

This feedback is now informing the Dalston Plan – a new set of guidelines to shape the future of Dalston, setting out how we intend to deliver the homes, jobs and facilities needed in a way that protects its unique heritage and puts local residents, organisations and businesses first. This includes identifying ten opportunity sites that can accommodate over 600 new homes as well as workspaces and commercial space for a growing town centre.

These have been developed in response to feedback from the Dalston Conversation to ensure the things local people value most about Dalston – such as Ridley Road Market, Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, the unique and diverse shopping offer and the renowned arts, culture and nightlife scenes – are protected.

What’s happening in Dalston?

The Dalston Plan includes details of Council projects that are delivering on this feedback, including a £1.5 million investment in Ridley Road Market and Ashwin Street, tackling antisocial behaviour issues at Gillett Square, and progressing plans for Hackney’s first 21st Century Street at Colvestone Crescent.

Ridley Road Market

Final proposals for a £1 million investment in Ridley Road Market have been released, including better facilities for traders, improved public spaces throughout the market, and dedicated character areas such a hot food stall zone and market garden. Work is expected to begin on site later in 2021.

Ashwin Street

The Ridley Road improvements will be complemented by investment in public spaces on Ashwin Street, home to some of Dalston’s iconic destinations including Cafe Oto and the Arcola Theatre.

The proposals will include new signage, street trees, planters and paving to help build on its reputation as a focal point for Dalston’s creative and cultural organisations while making it greener, more accessible and more pedestrian and cycle-friendly. Work is expected to begin on site later in 2021.

Gillett Square

The Council is continuing to work alongside the police to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour in Gillett Square including additional police and Council enforcement officer patrols, ten new high definition CCTV cameras, and new lighting due to be installed later this year.

Colvestone Crescent

In summer 2021 the Council will be updating on plans for Hackney’s first 21st Century Street at Colvestone Crescent, with proposals to remove a stretch of parking spaces to provide new greenery, cycle storage, electric vehicle charging points, seating and play equipment.

Page updated on: 23 June 2021