Hackney Council tells Network Rail: ‘Stop charging Shoreditch rents across the borough’

Hackney mayor Philip Glanville has hit out at Network Rail

Hackney mayor Philip Glanville has hit out at Network Rail

Hackney Council has blasted Network Rail for forcing independent businesses to close with its astronomical rent hikes.

Some firms were left with no choice but to shut after being hit with 200 per cent increases at short notice. The town hall says it’s because the transport body has started slapping businesses across the borough with Shoreditch-level rates.

Mayor Philip Glanville and business boss Guy Nicholson have now written to chairman Sir Peter Hendy telling him to be more reasonable and have requested a meeting with him.

The letter, seen by the Gazette, said the huge hikes made the upcoming business rate increase of 43pc look “positively conservative”.

It said: “The rent Network Rail now wishes to charge its commercial tenants in the borough, all of whom make a significant contribution to Hackney’s reputation as a vibrant, diverse and entrepreneurial economy, is so far removed from the commercial realities of the market it is having a negative impact on the borough’s economic viability.

“A rate of £56 per sq ft for a shell in say Hackney Central matches that of the cost of a serviced office in Shoreditch. The two areas bear no resemblance when it comes to the local economy and yet Network Rail’s approach is to assume that it does. The value of Shoreditch is not reflected across the borough.”

It goes on to say that Network Rail’s commercial decisions are working “to the detriment” of the mayor’s objectives of creating a thriving economy in Hackney.

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Cllr Nicholson said: “For many of the independent traders which have made the borough’s railway arches the vibrant and desirable venues they are today, this is simply unaffordable and will force them to close.

“We understand the pressures on Network Rail to generate more revenue from its land. However, its current broad-brush approach which treats Shoreditch the same as Hackney Central undermines the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of Hackney’s economy which makes it such a popular borough to do businesses.

“A more strategic and collaborative approach could strike a better balance between the long-term needs of Network Rail, its tenants and Hackney’s economy, and we urge Network Rail to sit down with us to discuss how we could make this happen.”

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “We are required by the government to manage the estate in a way that delivers a return for the taxpayer.

“All of the income generated by the management of the estate is reinvested into the running of the railway, benefitting the taxpayer and travelling public. We do not operate solely to produce a profit and we place value at the heart of what we do.”

Have you been forced to close your business as a result of rent hikes from Network Rail? Call Sam on 020 7433 0104 or email sam.gelder@archant.co.uk.