Sixty artists who have studios on the upper floors of Ridley Road Shopping Village in Dalston have been served with eviction notices from the building’s owners.
The artists have been in Ridley Road Studios, which are in the famous Ridley Road market, for over fifteen years, but now the landlord has served them all eviction notices citing renovation plans. Ridley Road’s indoor shopping village is owned by offshore company Larochette Real Estate and UK based Rainbow Properties.
Local campaigners have tweeted that there is no clarity about the owner’s plans. A spokesperson from the Save Ridley Road campaign said they think the landlord wants to convert the upper floors to open plan office spaces.
Ridley Road Shopping Village has been amid controversy in the past due to the private owner’s previous planning application, which would’ve converted the shopping village into flats, office, and retail spaces.
Zoë Garbett, member of Save Ridley Road campaign and Green Party Candidate for Mayor of Hackney, told Eastlondonlines that they’ve been trying to support the artists to form a collective and stay in the buliding. The council, she said, has been helping the artists look for alternative locations.
The bottom floor of the shopping village is to be managed by Hackney Council, which also the recently started a £1 million redevelopment of the market.
When the campaigning group reached out to the council regarding the studios, they were told that, “The council doesn’t have the capacity to manage individual units.”
Garbett said: “We have immediate concern for the artists, many who need to be there to make money from their art.”
But she also fears for the future of the market. The possible eviction of the artists and replacement with office spaces will change the fabric of Ridley Road.
“We see Ridley Road as being made of the market, small shops, the shopping village which houses local black Caribbean businesses, and artists on the top floors.” Garbett said.
“It becomes kind of a different space. It’s going to take away from what the market is… If you bring people in who are going to complain about the market, you slowly take away blocks of what makes it what it is.”
There are long term implications as well, she said, “about gentrification of the area, and who and what is supported in this economy.”
Ridley Road Shopping Village, including the artists’ studios, was granted an asset of community value (ACV) status in 2019 by the council. The status recognizes its cultural and social uses and the shopping village’s importance to community interests and social wellbeing.
The building’s landlord offered to keep 10 per cent of the studios at 60 per cent market value due to this status.
Garbett said that the council needs to take that more in consideration.
Milliner and artist Noel Stewart, 46, has been in Ridley Road studios for 13 years. He told ELL that the landlord’s offer “makes mockery of the ACV status.”
He said: “How is that going to retain any community value… It’s too expensive for artists such as myself.”
Stewart said that the artists along with the market traders have formed a “nice little community of multi-disciplinary art… We look out for each other.”
He said: “I’m sad we will have to leave, that Ridley Road is going lose its studios, and we’re not going to be together, I think it’s shame for the community and for Hackney.”
He has built his business from the ground in Ridley Road studios, and lives in Hackney. With the pandemic and Brexit, the timing could not have been worse.
He said: “It seems to me that Hackney Council doesn’t value creative industries as it much values developers.”
“It’s a real shame, an opportunity to do something great for Hackney and for the community. It sums up where everything is going. If money is the winner, that’s another example of that.”
Hackney Council and Rainbow Properties have both been approached for comment but had not responded by time of publication.