An insurance company’s Hoxton expansion plan has taken another step forward after Hackney Council approved its latest development at a planning meeting on Monday.
The plans will see insurance company Aviva convert 43-44 Hoxton Square, a former light industrial site, into company offices. But locals and campaigners say Aviva’s “corporate presence” will harm the Square’s unique character.
“What Aviva are doing is divide and conquer,” says Nick Perry, Chair of the Hackney Society.
“They want to be part of Hoxton, but they will displace the small-scale creative industries with a corporate presence and hipster pretensions.”
The Square sits inside a conservation area designed to protect its galleries, restaurants and small businesses.
Aviva first set-up its ‘digital garage’, a dedicated space for technical specialists, in the square in 2015. Since then the company has acquired another 4 properties in the area and now owns the majority of the east side of Hoxton Square.
Alan Weaver, a resident of the Square, says it is a “fantastic place” with “a wonderful mix of people and venues”.
“But we are concerned that in one or two years’ time the properties will be joined up into one big unit.”
Stuart Wright, properties manager for Aviva, commented in the Hackney Council planning meeting that the company had “no intention” of joining its offices in the Square and the plans sought to “represent the character of the Square”.
The latest planning proposals were approved by all councillors present.