Arts trust launches in threatened Upper Clapton tram depot

CAMPAIGNERS unveiled plans for a new cultural centre inside an old Upper Clapton depot at risk of demolition this week.

Artists, traders, residents and councillors launched Clapton Arts Trust (CAT) on Monday (October 4) with a tour of the premises in Upper Clapton Road known as Clapton tram sheds.

The move follow years of campaigning to protect the Victorian building, once used to store horse-drawn trams.

Developers planning to bulldoze businesses to make way for blocks of flats up to seven storeys high were sent back to the drawing board in August after town hall bosses failed to give permission for a community hall to be included in their schemes.

Critics feared up to 100 people risked losing their jobs under the building work, which could still go ahead.

Ian Rathbone, Leabridge ward councillor and chairman of CAT, said: “In recent years a major concern for the local community has been overdevelopment and the threat to the historic character and distinctiveness of our neighbourhoods.

“This has led to the forcing out of the very artists and craftsmen that make the area attractive and provide employment for a whole network of local people.

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“We aim to change that with a new and positive move forward for everyone in the area which we hope will attract new businesses, jobs and visitors to Hackney.”

Among CAT’s supporters at the unveiling of its logo was Hackney’s London Assembly member Jennette Arnold and Hackney Council cabinet member for regeneration and the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Councillor Guy Nicholson, who originally backed the opposing redevelopment plans.

CAT secretary David White said: “The vision is to regenerate the unique old tram depot, make it accessible to everyone rich or poor by making space available where artists, crafts people, musicians, and others can come and perform.”

The charity will run community projects to promote heritage and historic buidlings including Clapton Cinematograph Theatre in Lower Clapton Road and the River Heritage and Arts Centre in Leabridge Road as well as the tram depot.

For further information, call Ian Rathbone on 07890 654 068 or email