Creative Enterprise Zone in Hackney Wick and Fish Island shortlisted
Proposals to establish a Creative Enterprise Zone on the Hackney and Tower Hamlets border have been given a boost after they were shortlisted by the Mayor of London and awarded a grant of £50,000.
Hackney Council and Tower Hamlets Council submitted a joint bid in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation aimed at protecting and strengthening the established creative community around Fish Island and Hackney Wick.
The former industrial area has been given a new lease of life in recent years and is now home to some 250 artist studios and around 100 creative businesses. However, the community has faced significant pressure as a result of land development.
The trend is one that has been seen across the capital, with creatives being priced out of the communities which they have often helped to revive.
Last year, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced plans to support the establishment of three Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZ) in an effort to provide greater protection and security for those at-risk communities, allowing artists to put down roots and thrive for years to come.
The first phase of that initiative asked councils to submit initial bids outlining how those in their areas would benefit from a CEZ. In total 25 boroughs applied, demonstrating the level of interest in this new initiative.
The joint Tower Hamlets and Hackney bid, submitted in partnership with the London Legacy Development Corporation, was one of 10 to receive a £50,000 grant.
The Hackney Wick and Fish Island Creative Quarter is recognised as one of London's most successful and thriving creative communities.
Hackney Council is working hard to keep it that way - from refurbishing Council-owned buildings to provide affordable work spaces to strict planning rules that provide new affordable workspace and cap rent increases.
I want to ensure that Hackney Wick and Fish Island’s creative economy continues to thrive and grow without excluding the very people who made it happen or losing job opportunities for local residents.
Being shortlisted as a Creative Enterprise Zone takes us a step closer to having the support of the Mayor of London in realising that ambition, ensuring that Hackney Wick and Fish Island stays as a thriving creative community.
The funding is the latest step in Hackney Council's plan to protect affordable workspace in the area, following its announcement it would transform two underused Council buildings into temporary studios to help small creative businesses facing eviction.
The next phase will see the project teams from all three organisations working with the creative community and sector experts to put together the strongest possible proposals ahead of the final bidding round in July 2018.
I’m delighted that our joint bid has made the GLA’s final shortlist. The creative community in Fish Island and Hackney Wick is well established and has made a significant contribution to the cultural fabric of Tower Hamlets and Hackney. It is important that we do all we can to protect and enhance it.
Supporting the creative sector is one of Tower Hamlets Council’s enterprise priorities and our existing programmes are already making an impact in that area. The establishment of a Creative Enterprise Zone would allow us to do so much more.
We look forward to working with our partners, as well as residents and the existing creative community, as we use this grant to make the case for how we will support artists and creative businesses in our boroughs.
That proposal is expected to explore the provision of affordable workspace, business support to the cultural and creative industries as well as help for local people looking to access opportunities in the creative sector.
Later this year, the final three successful bids will be announced and the establishment of the Creative Enterprise Zones will formally begin.