Hackney Wick which has the highest concentration of artists per square foot in all of Europe is again under threat from development. Home to the Chapman Brothers, Gavin Turk, Pam Hogg and Conrad Shawcross the area is a hotbed of creativity. However escalating rents and over-development is now forcing artists to leave. London is due to lose 3,500 artist studios over the next five years. This is a third of the capital’s studio workspaces.
Hackney Wick is one of the most innovative communities in London plans to demolish a warehouse that is home to more than 100 artists and small businesses are on the cards. The many residents of Vittoria Wharf, a former tyre factory, and auto storage units, have now launched a petition to save the artistic hub in northeast London. This is due to be bulldozed to make way for a pedestrian bridge across a canal. Artists are facing eviction on 5 September.
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) which owns half of Vittoria Wharf have plans that include “building many luxury homes on the adjacent side of the canal”,Over 2,800 people have now signed the petition to save Vittoria Wharf in Hackney Wick, the graffiti-covered maze of rented studios, galleries and independent businesses, which is home to one of the largest artistic communities in London.
The protest was born from the strong, vibrant and well-established community of Vittoria Wharf & Hackney Wick currently being demolished by the London Legacy Development Corporation in favour of unnecessary bridges and (even more) unaffordable housing. This protest states it is not just to help save our community but to help raise awareness to the general public of the incompetence, greed and woeful mismanagement of 100s of millions of pounds of the taxpayer’s money. The recent demonstration was a farcical pantomime re-enactment of the LLDC’s TRUE Legacy to the local area, city, and nation. They weren’t saying that everything to do with the Olympics was a complete failure, but this unelected and unaccountable organisation need to finally be held to account by the public for mismanaging a Legacy which has destroyed communities, drained public funds and only significantly benefited big business and corporate giants.
Campaigners have said that new developments will “change the soul” of Hackney Wick and “displace many of the people that work and create here”. According to the artists of Vittoria Wharf, the warehouse has been a “safe haven where people can enjoy the relatively small privilege of being able to get on with their work and collaborate with their neighbours without the fear of having to be moved on. That is until now”. LLDC have told campaigners that the proposed bridge will “benefit the community”, but artists argue that they are the community. “Our response is that… you will be deleting us in the process,” they say.
A spokesman for LLDC says: “This new bridge will significantly improve connections around Fish Island, Hackney Wick and into Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, helping the area properly benefit from the regeneration investment being made there. This bridge received planning consent in 2012 and we have undertaken extensive consultation on these proposals. We are keen to work with local people to ensure the bridge benefits everyone.”
Sign this petition today and become a part of the movement that stands firm in the face of unending gentrification and displacement. It’s a story that affects so many of us and we can do something about it.
Artists and residents @ Vittoria Wharf. Photo: Kirsten Allen