Ridley Road Shopping Village: Revised plans submitted by owners
- Credit: Archant
Amended plans for redeveloping Ridley Road Shopping Village will see vital storage units for street traders kept on site.
Owner Rainbow Properties also says there would be "no significant disturbance to traders" during work, and that the indoor market stallholders would be offered spaces in 20 new "individual retail units".
But Hackney Council has denied rumours a date has been set for a meeting to decide on the proposals, which now include transforming the building into five luxury flats instead of 10 and fewer office space, along with the retail and storage units.
The indoor market, which also has workshops for 60 artists upstairs, is at the heart of the Save Ridley Road campaign, which aims to protect the historic market street from gentrification.
One artist in the studio told the Gazette: "If this development plan is given planning permission the character and cultural diversity will be carved up and undermined to the point it will be unrecognisable as the incredible space is currently is.
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"The street with its niche minority ethnic shops is a complex and fragile ecosystem that represents a symbolic social space of shared collective cultural ownership that is intrinsic to identity.
"With this being the largest building on the street, granting planning permission will set a precedent for all other building on the north side of the market and will inevitably lead to a domino effect."
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Campaigners also argued the development of the shopping village would not just hit the traders inside, but also those on the market who use the building for storage. It is not yet known whether indoor traders would be moved elsewhere during the work, how much their rent would be on return, or where the street traders would store their gear while it takes place.
Rainbow, the UK agent of Virgin Islands firm Larochette Real Estate, which owns the freehold, submitted plans early last year to turn the building into 10 luxury flats with offices and shops below.
As a result, 20 existing stallholders and 60 artists in workshops upstairs were told they would be evicted at the end of the year.
But in October the management company gave traders two weeks' notice to leave, saying they couldn't afford to install security measures demanded by police, so were closing the market earlier than scheduled.
The news, revealed by the Gazette, sparked widespread outrage and protests from the community and council, leading bosses at Rainbow to take over the lease and install the measures themselves.
But traders were given new six-month licences that gave Rainbow the right to evict them with 15 days' notice. They replaced "informal licences" that some believed offered them more security of tenure.
After accusations of gentrification and social cleansing, Hackney mayor Phil Glanville told Rainbow to come back with new plans that benefited existing traders and locals.
The new plans also include 10 per cent affordable workspace, as per council policy.
A Rainbow spokesperson said: "Traders all have a right of first refusal to return once the building works are completed, and we are hopeful most of them will."