Plans to redevelop Hackney’s town centre have been unveiled, with the aim of transforming the area and creating over 400 jobs. All jobs are earmarked for local residents.
44 independent shops in the Narrow Way, Clarence Road and Mare Street area will benefit from improvements including new signage, facades, access and lighting. Furthermore, 12 empty railway arches in Morning Lane are being developed into a fashion retail hub.
The Narrow Way will undergo a trial part-pedestrianisation which will mean several bus routes will be rerouted along Dalston Lane and Amhurst Road. The council is hoping this will make the area more consumer friendly. In addition to this, there are plans to build a footbridge to connect Hackney Central Station with Hackney Downs Station, in an attempt to increase visitor numbers. Construction on this project will begin in 2014.
The first stage of the work is set to be completed by September of this year and the entire project will be finished by Christmas in time for the holiday season.
The work is being funded by the Greater London Authority and is aimed at supporting long term solutions to improve town centres affected by the 2011 riots. The fund was announced in August 2011 and amounts to £70 million which is to be invested in a number of areas across the capital. £2 million is being allocated to redeveloping Hackney town centre. A further £3.3 million will be spent by Network Rail on its arches part of the scheme.
The fund is financing a number of initiatives to aid the redevelopment. Firstly, a scheme has been launched which aims to teach businesses how to improve their image and profitability. Over half of the small businesses in Hackney Town Centre attended the seminars about merchandising, marketing and how to work together to ensure the area is more profitable.
The reaction to these seminars has been positive, with many owners stating it has enabled them to increase sales. Nikul Patel from Unlocked and Linked said ‘We learned some great skills, it has given us a real boost, sales are definitely increasing’.
The redevelopment fund is also working in partnership with with Hackney Council’s Ways into Work initiative, which is aimed at helping local residents find work by providing training schemes to teach them new skills. 25 positions have been allocated in the area so far.