There are some things you can bet your life on in Hackney. Paying a fiver for a bottle of craft beer. The smell of skunk and barbecue drifting over London Fields on a sunny Sunday afternoon. But less and less are you likely to spot a green space in E8. As developers move in, Hackney is battling to keep its wild patches wild.
The gorgeously ramshackle Eastern Curve Garden is one of Hackney’s best-kept secrets. Step through a wooden door opposite Dalston Junction station and you enter an oasis of flowers, veg and community spirit. Created on a derelict piece of land in 2010, the garden was only ever going to be temporary. Now the company that owns most of the land, Criterion Capital, has submitted plans for the redevelopment of the whole area (including the Kingsland Shopping Centre), that will include a shopping centre and 500 flats. Plans for the future of the garden are currently under discussion between Criterion and Hackney Council. Watch this space for more news but hopefully this bucolic patch will emerge unscathed.
Down the road, hacked off locals are battling to stop another property developer cutting down oak, ash, willow and sycamore trees to make way for nine swanky five and six bedroom homes. This pocket of green, tucked away behind Navarino Grove, has been used as allotments and tennis courts in the past. On May 21, the day the developer took possession of the site, they went in with chainsaws and felled two trees.
Eagle-eyed residents stopped them cutting down more and contacted Hackney council who swooped in and slammed a temporary preservation order on them. But there are concerns that the trees will be hacked again once the order expires. ‘The trees are not in a conservation area and the land is privately owned so the company is entitled to chop them down, but the order gives us a six month window to inspect the trees and see if they are healthy and worthy of putting a permanent preservation order on,’ said a spokesperson for Hackney Council.