‘I was raised here’ – New Era Estate businesses on being forced out ahead of demolition

PUBLISHED: 10:24 11 November 2019 | UPDATED: 10:24 11 November 2019

Mahmut Dogan outside his salon. Picture: Freya Pickford

Mahmut Dogan outside his salon. Picture: Freya Pickford


Business owners on Hoxton’s New Era Estate have spoken of their sadness at being forced out of their units ahead of demolition work.

Elif Zarani in her alterations shop. Picture: Freya PickfordElif Zarani in her alterations shop. Picture: Freya Pickford

Charity landlord Dolphin Living has submitted a planning application to rebuild the estate with 199 new homes, including new retail units replacing the existing ones in Whitmore Road.

Families on the 96-home estate, who pay means-tested rent, have backed the plans. They will be moved into properties currently being built above Kingsland Fire Station before having the option to return under the same rent agreement.

But business owners are devastated about the demolition as they now have to find new units. Dolphin says it is helping them find new spaces and promised them the chance to return, but both are easier said than done.

Elif Zarani, 52 from Peckham, opened her tailor's Quality Alterations in 2002. She said Dolphin has offered her money to help with her move but it's not enough.

Barry Jones outside his cleaning supply shop. Picture: Freya PickfordBarry Jones outside his cleaning supply shop. Picture: Freya Pickford

She said: "I have a depression because I've been constantly worrying about what will happen and I can't find another place because it's too expensive. I don't want to lose all my customers who are like family to me."

Zainul Rassul opened Mulla's butchers shop 15 years ago.

He said: "I feel awful. They're supposed to organise a place for us but they've given us no help. I'm 62 now and no one will give me a job. I don't know what will happen."

Barry Jones opened his cleaning supplies shop nearly 10 years ago and was born in the flats opposite the estate.

Jenni Gwiazdowski of London Bike Kitchen.Jenni Gwiazdowski of London Bike Kitchen.

Barry said: "I was raised here. It's really sad because we've been here for years. It's been a stressful time and we're panicking."London Bike Kitchen Director Jenni Gwiazdowski opened her non-profit DIY bike workshop in 2011. She contacted Hackney Council, which has helped her with an application for a new space.

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She said: "This is the second eviction notice we've been given and it's really stressful. This time it seems like the residents were looked after but the shopkeepers weren't and we've been kept in the dark about a lot of stuff."

Mahmut Dogan has owned Ozan salon for twenty years. He has also found a space to relocate to but said his neighbours have not been so lucky.

"I feel very sad," he told the Gazette. "The little boys whose hair I cut I once cut now bring their own kids to my salon and this will all change.

"We need more help to find another place from the council. The estimated bills for the renovation of my new shop are very high and I don't have the money right now," he said.

Bike Kitchen employee Amy Gibson added: "All of these shops are community based. It's not just the moving process that's stressful; it's also the last two years of the threat of eviction."

In January last year Dolphin CEO Olivia Harris told the Gazette the estate hadn't been "particularly well looked after", leaving no choice but to demolish it.

She also said the plan was to build as much "genuinely affordable" housing as possible - that is, social rent, shared ownership or London living rent, which is based on average incomes in the area

But the plans submitted in July include no social rent homes and only 35 per cent affordable housing - below Hackney's 50pc policy. Of those, 30pc will be living rent and 70pc will be 80pc of market rent - the old "affordable" definition coined by Boris Johnson when he was London mayor.

A spokesperson from Dolphin said they kept shopkeepers updated through regular newsletters and meetings.

They said: "In these five years, Dolphin Living has ensured that there have been no increases in commercial rents meaning they continue remain amongst the lowest in the area. However, we understand the impact these improvement works will have on the shopkeepers.

"We will continue to work with Hackney Council to help these tenants find suitable premises within the area, and are committed to allowing current tenants the opportunity to return to the rebuilt estate. We have also ensured the provision of flexible notice periods and rent free periods at the end of their leases so that they are not paying rent on multiple premises," they added.

"Dolphin Living's offer of financial assistance to the commercial tenants reflects the fact that there have been no rent increases since 2014 and the three months' rent free period coupled to the flexible notice period. This is significantly above and beyond what would normally be the case with the end of a commercial lease."

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