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Judge brings curtain down on east London theatre row

One of London's most bitter planning disputes has come to an end after a judge ruled against the local group campaigning to save Dalston's Circus Theatre in east London.

The long-running row centred on plans to replace the theatre - credited as the oldest circus theatre in Europe - and a series of unlisted Georgian houses with a residential scheme by Arup Associates ( pictured).

The council-backed project is part of a wider scheme by landowner Transport for London (TfL) to upgrade the area's transport facilities.

Open Dalston, a local campaign group, had been fighting a rearguard legal battle to get the development shelved.

But last night (4 December) the High Court threw out the group's latest bid to take the scheme's planning permission to a judicial review.

The move will gravely disappoint local residents, but will come as a relief to Hackney Council, TfL and Arup Associates.

Open Dalston spokesman Bill Parry-Davies said he was devastated by the decision, claiming that the buildings including the theatre - which was the site of reggae superstar Bob Marley's first British gig - could and should be retained.

He said: 'For 18 months Open Dalston has been urging the authorities to consider preserving something of Dalston's unique historic character to assist the regeneration of the area.'

'[But] the hundreds of legitimate objections from the local business and the residential community, and from national societies and trusts, have fallen on deaf ears.'

by Ed Dorrell

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