Council uses former buildings to rehouse Hackney Wick’s creative community

Hackney Baths. Pic: Peter O’Connor

Small creative businesses which are being forced to move out because of redevelopment in the Hackney Wick area are to be re-housed in  former Council properties.

Hackney Council plans to refurbish and let two buildings – the Old Baths on Eastway and the Trowbridge Centre on Trowbridge Road.

Phillip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney said: “The creative community is the heart of Hackney Wick, and it’s important that we do all we can to protect the industries, makers and artists who make the area the unique and exciting place it is.”

The Council has appointed affordable workspace experts Stour Space and Arbeit, who already manage similar schemes in the area, to manage the new workspaces on its behalf, with some of existing traders given the opportunity to remain.

Stour Space. Pic: Stour Space

Directors from Stour Space said: “We are so excited to win this tender for The Old Baths, delivering what we think is a groundbreaking project involving many local partnerships.

“It’s massively encouraging that Hackney Council has prioritised the important role that grassroots cultural facilities like Stour Space have in sustaining communities and London’s cultural offering.

“With the security of another seven years in Hackney Wick, Stour Space is delighted to continue to support our community and promote the value of arts, culture and enterprise as a catalyst for socio-economic development in this rapidly changing city.”

Stour Space Interior. Pic: Stour Space

Hajni Semsei , from the Arbeit Project said: “The council have selected Arbeit Project as the organisation to manage the Trowbridge Centre. It is a great opportunity and we are very proud to be part of it. In the last 1-2 years we mostly experienced the closing of studio and gallery sites in the area, and with these new sites we are excited that there is a long term thinking and solution.

“The Centre will provide workshops, work experience and artistic events along with the studios so it will be more than just a physical space, hopefully it will become and a meeting point and a creative island in Hackney Wick.”

Mayor Glanville said: “While regeneration will bring new opportunities, it’s vital that long-established small traders are given the chance to take advantage of them. We also want to ensure that this new partnership increases the real opportunities available to existing Hackney Wick residents.”

The Council’s plan aims to allow the existing creative businesses to remain in Hackney Wick whilst works are ongoing and move back into new affordable workspaces built as part of regeneration plans once they are ready.

Glanville said: “Opening up our own cut-price workspace in the meantime will mean more businesses can stay and grow in the area they call home – creating new jobs and contributing to our local economy.”

Hackney Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation set up rigid rules last year to safeguard affordable workspace and cap rent increases in new largely private developments around Hackney Wick Station.

The rules will protect around 8,500sqm of existing creative workspace in new developments, alongside hundreds of new homes, modern retail and community facilities, and better public spaces.

But as some existing buildings are demolished, existing traders have raised concerns that they will be forced to leave the area before the replacement workspace is completed.

Refurbishment work will take place over the summer, with spaces expected to be available later this year.

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