It appears last years riots in Hackney may have been a blessing to Hackney Council, high-end fashion houses and commercial real estate investors looking for new developments in East London.
OK, so I’m being a little facetious and should have mentioned gold linings under every dark cloud. The dark clouds being those that hung over the streets of Hackney, while shops and property were being looted and burned. Cash enabling Hackney Councils new venture has come from The Mayor of London’s £50 million regeneration fund, which was earmarked for areas badly affected by the summer riots of 2011. Hackney council bagged themselves £5.3 million and are hoping to attract big name fashion retailers to create a fashion outlet village in and around Morning Lane and Chatham Place, in Hackney Central.
With the Burberry Out-let in Chatham Place already attracting shoppers from all over the world, Hackney Council is hoping it will act as a magnet to other clothing and life-style retail companies
It is hoped it will create up to 200 jobs, with Hackney Council pledging that all jobs created will be advertised through a council run scheme, to ensure local people apply and succeed in getting jobs. They also plan to develop fashion and retail training programs within the borough to ensure applicants on all levels are better equipped.
While Pringle hasn’t confirmed this with Hackney Hive (why doesn’t their PR dept return phone calls or emails), a signage has already gone up on the former Duke of Wellington pub, indicating Pringle, the luxury high end knitwear brand will be the next outlet to open in Hackney. A recent recruitment ad for a store manager backs up their plan.
The Endless Possibilities
To further cement their commitment, Hackney Council are entering a partnership with the owners of the arches Network Rail, in the development of 12 empty railway arches.
Commercial landlords and other businesses are gearing up too, after all they will benefit from foot traffic from the retail village. One forward planning building owner, has been advertising his Morning Lane property that was last a Caribbean bar and eatery, on the popular advertising site, Gumtree, describing the surrounding area as a “soon to be East London Carnaby Street.” Obviously enticing prospective tenants with the possibilities, while cashing in on what has become Hackney’s undeniable cachet; It’s creativity, “edginess” and “trendy” spots.
Rumours are abound of local residents and business being approached by developers, wanting to buy property in the area. There is no doubt that this development on completion will change the look and feel of the area like nothing else and while I find myself getting giddy about the possibility of bagging a bargain at Brooks Brothers, Prada or The White Company (no indication that they will open shop here), I hope Julius Pipe and his band of merry men have thought out or working on the surrounding infrastructure. There will need to be ample parking and provision for shuttle buses, maybe coaches. Hackney, is not in the Oxfordshire countryside where the successful Bicester Village fashion out-let is located and parking will be at a premium, especially having a large Tesco nearby.
Having a fashionable out-let so close to central London is an added bonus and will draw tourists and others not wanting to go as far as Brighton, Ashford Kent or Oxfordshire to other out-lets.
All this is welcome, but will it be enough? Luke Muziwa who lives nearby commented on Hackney Citizen site; “The arches were occupied by hard working people who had provided valid services to the residents of Hackney for over 20 yrs and some worked with young people.
“I did my apprenticeship at the MOT station in Morning Lane when no one else was willing to give me a chance and it pains me to see how they were treated, They where all evicted without being offered a place to relocate to or any funding towards starting again elsewhere.
“How can people’s livelihoods be taken away because of shop fronts, especially in these economic times”.
Hackney’s Mayor Julius Pipe see it differently and has said: “Hackney Central has so much to offer in terms of culture, vibrancy and opportunity. This investment has the potential to create a unique attraction that can give the borough a significant economic boost, so I m pleased that our bid has been successful”.
Throwing money that will be used to bring in high end shops may not be the answer for everyone, it may however just create a wider divide, further alienating groups, who can’t afford the goods, even with the discounts out-lets offer. There will however be better quality gear being sold out of car trunks, next time the disenfranchised decide to burn and loot Hackney. We should be mindful that while the fires have all been put out on the streets of Hackney, there still lies warm ashes ready to ignite.