Hackney Council urges move away from fashion to bring Hackney Walk back to life

The Hackney Walk luxury retail outlet in Morning Lane. Many of the units have never been occupied, i

The Hackney Walk luxury retail outlet in Morning Lane. Many of the units have never been occupied, including the large building at the far end of the photo. Picture: Emma Bartholomew - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

Hackney Council is seeking to bring railway arches in the struggling Hackney Walk fashion district back into use.

Three years after its launch, most of the railway arches at the luxury fashion village - which was developed with millions of pounds of public money earmarked for regenerating Hackney Central following the 2011 London riots - are standing empty.

The Town Hall is now hoping to convince new managers Intermediate Capital Group (ICG) at a crunch meeting on Monday to put forward new plans to widen out who can trade there, with the scheme currently specifically restricted to uses related to fashion.

The council's business chief, Cllr Guy Nicholson (Lab, Homerton), admitted his "frustration" at the failure of the scheme when asked what could have been done differently with hindsight at a meeting on Monday.

He said: "As the council doesn't own the land at Hackney Walk, our role is to continue to engage and encourage the owners of the site to progress with a scheme to diversify the uses on the site and ensure that the vacant units are occupied as soon as possible with a mix of uses.

"All I would say is from our council's perspective, what we have is an effective area regeneration team that can hopefully set about squaring the circle down on Morning Lane.

"I think it's a struggle.

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"What could have made it easier, perhaps if the council owned the land, it would put it into a very different category."

Cllr Polly Billington (Lab, De Beauvoir) responded: "I'd be a fabulous unicorn, Cllr Nicholson, and I never could be a fabulous unicorn, so unless we're going to buy it, we need to think what the realities are that we're working with."

Cllr Nicholson had written to former owners of Hackney Walk, LabTech, to ask "what is holding them back" from bringing the vacants on the site back to life, and according to council officers, the company was planning to put in an application to diversify the site into workspace, cafes, and leisure uses.

However, it was revealed at the meeting that LabTech is now "out of the picture", with management now falling to new players ICG.

ICG were approached for comment, but had not responded by time of going to press.

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