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

Dalston has also undergone much change in recent years and whilst we can’t control all change, we don’t believe it should come at the expense of existing communities and the things they value.

That’s why we will always use every tool at our disposal to maximise the benefits of growth for local residents and achieve the objectives of Dalston’s communities – whether that’s having a say in what the town centre looks like in the future and what kind of buildings can be built, improving public spaces, or ensuring everyone has access to new workspace or job opportunities.

In 2018, the Council undertook the largest local engagement exercise in Dalston, the Dalston Conversation, so we could hear directly from the local community in order to inform our plans for the area.

Along with the Mayor of London, we are currently investing £1m in Ridley Road Market to keep up with a changing high-street and we are currently developing a long-term plan for the Dalston area.

Dalston Conversation

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.

Dalston Conversation became the Council’s biggest ever local engagement exercise – with around 5,000 people visiting the dedicated website and hundreds more attending workshops, events and pop-up stalls.

Among the key issues raised by residents, businesses and visitors were:

  • ensuring existing traders are supported at Ridley Road Market
  • the need to protect popular places such as CLR James Library and the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden
  • better walking and cycling routes and public transport
  • tackling anti-social behaviour and littering, especially in Gillett Square
  • giving every part of the community a voice in its future

Where possible, the Council has acted quickly on the concerns that were raised, for example:

  • anti-social behaviour: we immediately began improving CCTV in Gillett Square, increasing street cleaning and working with the Metropolitan Police on more drugs and weapons searches
  • although the Council do not own or operate Ridley Road Shopping Village (the indoor market), we have intervened to prevent immediate evictions, are supporting businesses to find new premises, and working with the developer to ensure that the maximum amount possible of new low cost and affordable workspace is re-provided if any redevelopment of the building goes ahead
  • committed further funding to the Dalston Children’s Festival and cultural programme.

You can download the Dalston Conversation summary report and full consultation report.

In terms of next steps, the Council is using this feedback to develop new guidance on the type of developments that can be built in the area – protecting green spaces, supporting existing businesses and market traders, and reducing the dominance of motor vehicles. Read more about our Dalston Plan.

Investing in Ridley Road Market

Ridley Road Market is an essential, diverse and historic part of Dalston’s culture with over 150 stalls offering a range of quality goods at very competitive prices. We have no intention of closing Ridley Road Market down.

We have always supported Ridley Road Market and will continue to protect and preserve this important site and we want it to continue bringing people from different backgrounds together at the heart of the community.

The Council and the Mayor of London are investing over £1million into Ridley Road Market and surrounding streets to help existing traders compete with a changing high street.

The investment will be used to provide:

  • free new stalls
  • handheld card machines and wifi for traders
  • greener, cleaner and improved public spaces for shoppers
  • seating for shoppers

Protecting the market’s unique heritage and character was one of the key issues raised by residents and businesses in the Dalston Conversation, with many fearing redevelopment in the area could threaten its future.

In response, the Council has been running consultation and engagement workshops since January 2020, along with the project architects, with market traders and other local people and businesses on the design of improvements to Ridley Road and Ashwin Street.

The views of local traders are currently being sought on the proposals with further consultation activities due to take place. More information is available on our Dalston Plan website.

To find out more about Ridley Road Market, please visit our Ridley Road FAQs.

Dalston Plan

Following on from the Dalston Conversation, the Council will produce a new planning and regeneration document (which will be a supplementary planning document) for Dalston – the Dalston Plan. The Dalston Plan will guide Dalston’s future as a place to live, work and visit over the next 15 years.

Before we start producing detailed plans for the area and for specific sites, we ran a consultation between January and March 2020, to hear your views on key issues and objectives set out in the Dalston Conversation that seeks to address the aspirations and concerns of the local community, to see whether we are on the right track.

These issues and objectives relate to the following themes:

  • green space and open space
  • shopping and town centre
  • Ridley Road
  • transport and movement
  • buildings
  • workspace and employment
  • housing
  • culture, evening and night-time economy
  • inclusive and safe environment

The objectives will help shape the planning and regeneration guidance for the town centre and inform site-specific proposals that will be developed over the next 6 months, and will be set out in the draft Dalston Plan which you will have another opportunity to comment on later this year.

To see the comments shared with us, visit our dedicated Dalston Plan website.

Page updated on: 12 October 2020