More than 10,000 people have signed a petition in a final bid to stop the demolition of a Victorian warehouse, which provided affordable workspace for artists in east London, to make way for two new bridges.
The Save Hackney Wick group has led a long campaign calling for a rethink of plans for new developments in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford which, according to developers, required the demolition of Vittoria Wharf.
The building was previously home to many writers and artists who were evicted over a year ago despite protests.
The campaigners’ petition was handed into City Hall last week. A number of London assembly members had written to the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which approved the bridges, urging that the decision be reviewed.
Two bridges are being planned: one is a footbridge, the other a road bridge. Both, say the LLDC, will provide a crucial link for 1,500 new homes, businesses and schools to be built at East Wick and Sweetwater, an area just over the canal from Vittoria Wharf.
A number of local politicians also say the plans now contradict Mayor Sadiq Khan’s key pledges to improve air quality and support the creative industries. Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs, Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali and five London Assembly members have also written to Khan’s deputy for planning calling for a review of the plans.
Artists and local residents continue to fight against the works which they say will increase the levels of pollution around the area, as well as being costly.
Lucinda Rogers, a resident and a petitioner, claims Vittoria Wharf is the last historic building on the canal, and is worth “much more” than two bridges.
Rogers said the wharf was not only a site for artists to meet up and share ideas but is more important, a landmark that represents London’s “living history”.
A spokesperson for the LLDC said: “These bridges will improve the quality of life for current and future residents. We do understand the concerns and we have been consulting the community for many years; this was first discussed in 2004.”