Developers have been given the green light to build a multi-million pound retail complex for high end fashion lovers.
Brand names will rub shoulders with local designers in the eight storey ‘fashion hub’ in Morning Lane – branded a ‘supermodel development’ by critics.
Hackney Council’s planning subcommittee voted to approve the plans by Manhattan Loft Corporation and Chatham Works which will result in the demolition of the Duke of Wellington pub – now a Pringle clothing outlet.
Around £1.5million from the Greater London Authority’s post-riot fund – cash meant to help properties and businesses damaged during the 2011 riots – is being used as part of the scheme designed by architects Adjaye Associates.
Harry Handelsman, Chief Executive of the Manhattan Loft Corporation, said: “We are delighted that these visionary plans have been granted permission. We can now start delivering the plans that will create a new fashion destination that will provide new jobs in the area and extra footfall to existing local shops.”
Jack Basrawy of Chatham Works said: “The go-ahead for the Hackney Fashion Hub is great news for Hackney’s up-and-coming designers. We can now start to deliver on our promise of a new Stitching Academy and the Hackney Fashion Hub Trust. These plans will provide support for local designers and manufacturers with training, access to top range equipment and new apprenticeships for local people.”
However, Nick Perry, representing The Hackney Society and the Clapton Conservation Area Advisory Committee, told last night’s meeting that the project was “trying to shoehorn too much” into a small area of land and questioned whether the infrastructure in the surrounding area was sufficient to support the scheme.
He said: “The oppressive height and scale of the two buildings does not respect the visual integrity of the area on the fringe of Hackney’s first designated conservation area.”
In a letter to the sub-committee The Hackney Society wrote: “The Fashion Hub is ultimately a grand, exciting and innovative idea, but rapidly implanted in the wrong place and without major infrastructure changes needed to support it. We can ill afford to treat this as a ‘test’ concept because if it fails we will inevitably end up with residential conversions that will spin the fashion hub into a not-so-fashionable flat tyre.”
James Watson of the Churchwell Residents’ Group told councillors: “If this scheme goes ahead these guys [the developers] stand to make a lot of money on the back of Hackney being the coolest borough. Please on our behalf ensure that the impoverished and those who live locally see their slice of the design and fashion cake.”
Six of the seven councillors in attendance voted in favour, with the remaining councillor – Barry Buitekant – abstaining.
Plans for an illuminated external ‘media screen’ will be subject to further negotiation between the developers and the council.
The site was a gravel pit in the 1800s and is within an area that has been the subject of numerous regeneration schemes over the years, including proposals for a 13-storey residential development on the site of the nearby Tesco supermarket, which the council refused permission for in 2010.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “This decision marks the beginning of the next stage of work to bring The Hackney Fashion Hub to life. We are working with a range of partners who share our vision of bringing this world-class development to Hackney Central for local people.
“One of the key goals for us is that the Fashion Hub creates local jobs and opportunities for residents to create new business. It’s crucial that new developments like this benefit the whole community, including existing businesses and town centres.”