An innovative project to create studios and spaces for small businesses and artists in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park near Hackney Wick is planned to open in spring 2019.
The proposed project is called Clarnico Quay and aims to boost small businesses, raise employability, and provide locals with a multi-purpose area.
The proposed plan would transform the empty 6,110 sqm site into an area of affordable workspaces for small businesses, artists, and makers.
The designs for the site include 12 workshop units for small businesses, 22 studios for designers and artists, two event spaces and multiple retail units for independent food and drink businesses, including two restaurants, a pub, and food hall with 13 small street food kiosks. Public indoor and outdoor spaces and communal facilities were also introduced in the proposal.
The organisation behind the project is Make Shift. The company designs, builds and manages public spaces, accommodating communities of local, independent businesses.
The planning application for Clarnico Quay was submitted on April 5, which marked the start of a 13-week consultation period. If the application goes through, construction is scheduled to start in August and the site will be launched to the public in April 2019.
According to Make Shift, everyone is invited to apply for the spaces through an application process, which is planned to open later this summer.
Make Shift has had other successful projects in the past, such as Pop Brixton.
Yokichi Seno set up his Japanese knife shop, Kataba, in Pop Brixton over a year ago: “The experience has been good. It was a good opportunity for me to get this space.”
“This place is good for starter businesses. It’s much better than finding a site on the high street. For more than one year, I was looking for a space everywhere in London, but they are expensive. This is definitely good for us. I want to grow my business and get another site if possible.”
Make Shift has been working on Clarnico Quay for over a year with East Wick & Sweetwater Projects and the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).
The project began in March 2017, when LLDC and East Wick & Sweetwater commissioned Make Shift to conduct a Research and Design Study that would determine the view of local people and come up with proposals for the use of the land between now and 2025 when the site is scheduled to be used for housing.
The project development is currently being funded by Make Shift, but if the planning application is approved external funds are going to be sourced from other investors.
James Leay, Managing Director at Make Shift, told Eastlondonlines: “As always with projects like this the response has been varied, but on the whole, it has been very positive.”
“We have been working in the area and speaking with local residents and business owners for more than a year now, connecting with well over 300 people throughout the process. The longer we’ve been around and the more we’ve been able to involve people in the process, the better our proposals have become, and therefore the better the responses have been.”
“Local residents have been excited by the new facilities and features that the project could bring, and their opportunity to shape it with their ideas including a skatepark, growing space and space for local community groups to meet being incorporated into the scheme. In addition, many small businesses from the area have already expressed their interest in taking space.”
“I hope Clarnico Quay becomes a place, where hundreds of small businesses, social organisations, and creative workers find the space and support they need to grow.”
Make Shift has worked with Carl Turner Architects to create a set of designs for the site, which were included in the planning application.
Margit Kraft, a project architect for Carl Turner Architects, told Eastlondonlines: “We are still working on the project with Make Shift and we’re waiting to hear back after submitting the planning application. The project was invented with the council and us to activate the site since it’s going to take seven years before it’s set up for housing. In London space is so precious.”
“The design process itself has been very close with the community. We worked out a brief with the people that attended consultations, which was used for the application. I think generally it’s very exciting. It’s something to give back to the people in the community and it’s not the kind of project that makes a win. The park is starting to come to life, which is exciting to see.”