New London Architecture

Wick Workspace: How Hackney Council offered a lifeline to businesses being pushed out of the area

Thursday 22 October 2020

Mathieu Rogers

Mathieu Rogers

Area Regeneration Manager
Hackney Wick & Upper Lee Valley

Hackney Wick is a part of London quite unlike any other. Vibrant and artistic, it is home to a world class creative quarter, whilst also rich with the legacy of the 2012 London Olympics.
 
Over 4,500 new homes are anticipated to have been built in the Hackney Wick and Fish Island area over the next 15 years. As the Area Regeneration Manager for Hackney Wick, I have seen first-hand how the demolition of many existing buildings has affected the local community and although the larger re-development will deliver much needed homes and business space, there is a risk that the area will lose its charm and uniqueness. 
 
We are clear that its rapid evolution must resolve in a better place for everyone. That means making sure that no one gets cast aside in the tailwind of our improvements; that creatives still have a home, and the 1 in 10 jobs in the creative and cultural sector in Hackney continue to be filled by the finest free thinkers and creative pioneers in London, that residents views and needs are reflected, and that independent businesses can still thrive, not just survive.
 
That’s where my team comes in.
 
Whilst we have always been honest that we as a Council cannot control all change, we are committed to ensuring that regeneration and development benefits local businesses and residents alike and Hackney Council has decided to intervene directly to address these challenges. 
Our innovative Wick Workspace programme was possible through the transformation of three council-owned buildings - The Depot, which was little more than a scrap yard and is due to become a thriving hub of social enterprise, repairing and bringing back into use the Old Baths building and associated sports pitch, and the creation of a new business and community space at the Trowbridge Centre, previously a vacant Council property. 

The Wick Workspace programme creates new affordable workspace, prioritising those faced with eviction and around 30 small and medium enterprises have already been helped to remain in the area. We have also created new community floorspace, which has been made available at little to no cost to use for community groups including a brand new youth sports facility which is due to open in 2021.

One of our tenants in the Trowbridge Centre, Boulevard Catering are an independent multi-award winning event catering family business who have been in Hackney Wick for over 20 years and are much-loved and have become a local institution. When the Trowbidge centre became vacant, they faced the risk of being pushed out of the area if the building was sold or repurposed, which would’ve been a blow for the area and one I could not let happen. Fortunately, we managed to help them remain locally as part of the Wick Workspace programme.
 
Creativity is not only the lifeblood of Hackney Wick, but also holds the answer to many of the challenges facing the area today. By not being afraid to think differently, and collaboratively,  we, in public sector organisations can move quickly and create more efficient solutions that prioritise the needs of local businesses and community groups and safeguards their valuable contributions to the area.


Mathieu Rogers

Mathieu Rogers

Area Regeneration Manager
Hackney Wick & Upper Lee Valley


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