New plan for Shoreditch prioritises office space over housing

Pic: Julian Osley

A new plan for Shoreditch that prioritises office space over housing was approved for further consultation by Hackney council last Monday.

Hackney cabinet members have approved the Issues and Options document in the Future Shoreditch Area Action Plan for further consultation in a cabinet meeting.

The document states new possible actions of the Future Shoreditch plan which was already initiated this spring. Apart from suggesting new boundaries to the Shoreditch area, the document suggests some possible strategies in the sectors of housing, jobs, retail, night time economy, traffic, air quality and Shoreditch’s special character.

A key finding of the document details a prioritising office space over housing by Hackney Council. The document says: “Given Shoreditch’s current employment designation, existing policy prioritises the delivery of affordable workspace over affordable housing.”

Feedback from the local community at earlier stages of the Future Shoreditch plan indicates that the affordability of housing is a major issue in the area. The cost of renting in Hackney has increased by 34 per cent since 2011. With approximately 12,500 people living in the Shoreditch area today, 1,750 houses must be built in Hackney each year between now and 2033 to meet the housing need. At the moment, a total of 1850 dwellings are identified in the Site Allocations Local Plan across 14 individually identified development sites.

Shoreditch is the biggest sub-economy in Hackney and contains 43 per cent of employment in the entire borough. Especially since being part of the Tech City cluster, Shoreditch’s attractiveness as a workplace has been booming. The area hosts approximately 40,000 jobs in the hospitality, business and financial services, digital creative and corresponding supply chain sectors. The document responds to this by suggesting the possible option of requiring a minimum of 60 per cent of the overall new floorspace within the Shoreditch area to be offices. One option in the report goes as far as suggesting 80 per cent of new floorspace in certain parts of Shoreditch to be designated to office space.

With population numbers in Shoreditch on the rise, there could be expectations of efforts to be made in order to make affordable housing available, rather than turning the area into an office hub. The number of Shoreditch residents rose by 65 per cent since the 2001 census. This compares to growth rates of approximately 21 per cent in all of Hackney, 14 per cent in London and 8 per cent across England as a whole.

While the document prioritises office space, it does not completely ignore the issue of housing. Some possible options for improving the current situation are suggested. These include the requirement of 50 per cent of new homes built to be genuinely affordable, and identifying sites where affordable housing contributions could be possible.

The options in the report are mere suggestions and are open for commentary for the next two months.

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