Some Hackney residents are opposing plans for an ambitious £100m new retail development in the centre of Hackney, helping to change the image of the borough from one of inner city deprivation to an upmarket shopping destination.
The initial plans which have been lodged with Hackney Council are for two eight-story buildings on Chatham Place and later plans to redevelop the railway arches along Morning Lane, with new retail, restaurant and office units. The 8,000 square metres of new shopping areas, along with the nearby existing factory outlet branches of Burberry, Pringle and Aquascutum, is intended to help transform the area into a fashion destination for shoppers.
But those opposed to the development fear the changes will create a social divide between the rich and poor in one of London’s most impoverished boroughs.
Hackney council however claims the development will create 400 new jobs for local people. Developers state that it will provide “space for local designers and entrepreneurs to thrive in” and that local businesses are excited “about the Hackney Fashion Hub bringing more people to the area and extra customers to their shops, restaurants and cafes.”
Harry Handelsman, chief executive of Manhattan Loft Corporation which is developing the site said: “This is the next step to delivering a truly inspirational fashion development at the heart of Hackney. We’ll continue working closely with local residents and retailers to make sure the Fashion Hub is a national, international and – most importantly – local success.”
However locals have organized an online petition, criticizing the development on a number of grounds including its use of £2m from the Greater London Association post-riot regeneration fund. The petition argues that this money should rather be spent on projects for Hackney residents; ‘arts and sports facilities, youth training schemes, investments in local businesses for apprenticeships and green community spaces would be far more beneficial and essential for the area’s regeneration and long-term improvement.’
The petition, which has attracted more than 130 signatures also claims that the development will increase rent prices and ironically force many of the creative people and aspiring fashion designers out of the borough. In addition to this some businesses are being forced out of sites in the Morning Lane railway arches to make way for the project. These issues mean many fear the development will further the gentrification of the borough.
Hackney Haute Quarter, a satirical website surrounding the new development, mockingly claims the development “is an opportunity for the most daring brands in fashion to build on the area’s anti-social capital.” The site maps out the emergence of several luxury brands that are set to open in the area around the Hackney Fashion Hub. Many people opposed to the development fear these changes will create a social divide between the rich and poor in one of London’s most impoverished boroughs.
The council is expected to make a decision upon the development in September and work could begin at the start of next year.
The online petition can be signed on the link below until July 3.