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Well Street: Traders say building work above shops in wake of rent hikes is 'killing the street'

PUBLISHED: 17:49 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:49 24 July 2019

Well Street. Picture: Helin Tezcanli

Well Street. Picture: Helin Tezcanli

Archant

Traders in Hackney's historic Well Street say disruptive building works have left them struggling to make ends meet - and they have to put up with it for another 18 months.

Well Street. Picture: Helin TezcanliWell Street. Picture: Helin Tezcanli

Shopkeepers say work to the flats above their businesses could be the final straw after rent increases over the last few years from their charity landlord Hackney Joint Estate Charity (HJEC).

What's more, they claim they were given next to no notice about the work before it began in April.

The construction includes an extension to the first floor apartments and an additional third storey on top of the existing flats. But retailers say that these works are chasing customers away and leading shops to close.

Three shops have closed so far, with others due to close because of struggling business.

Well Street. Picture: Helin TezcanliWell Street. Picture: Helin Tezcanli

One retailer said: "I remember 20 or 25 years ago when the market was full of people."

Well Street is one of Hackney's oldest market streets and is known for being home to Jack Cohen's first market stall. Mr Cohen went on to found Tesco.

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Erdil Ahmet, owner of Well Street Fish and Chips for 25 years, spoke to the Gazette about how these changes have affected his business.

Well Street. Picture: Helin TezcanliWell Street. Picture: Helin Tezcanli

He said Well Street used to be "the biggest market there was," but that higher rents "are killing the street".

"The agency is messing up too much," he said. "They make people run away. They put the rent so high that no one can afford to pay. Nobody."

He added his shop might close by the end of the year due to ongoing struggles.

Clerk of the HJEC, Ben Janes, told the Gazette how "unfortunate" and "really frustrating" the complaints have been.

Well Street. Picture: Helin TezcanliWell Street. Picture: Helin Tezcanli

He said the trustees of the HJEC are "very open" to talk with tenants and that he understood "the frustration of the development", but insisted the work to flats was for the benefit of the community.

On the lack of notice for traders, he added: "Contractor Abbey Builders London confirm they did complete a letter drop to all tenants in the 10 days preceding the commencement of works."

He explained that the estate is required to charge market rates and to manage assets in a commercial context to uphold charitable obligations.

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