Businesses angry at slow progress of Dalston redevelopment

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"They know what they want to do and are just going to do it." Gillett Square. Credit: James Bickerton

Small businesses on Dalston’s Gillett Square don’t know when they will be provided with alternative premises during an upcoming £1.5 million redevelopment despite a promise from developers.

The work is organised by Hackney Co-operative Developments (HCD), a community interest company which rents parts of Gillett Square from landlords Hackney Borough Council. Nine traders based in small ‘pods’ will have to vacate Gillett Square for around a year.

This is to allow the construction of additional office space and a glass façade on a building adjacent to the Square.

HCD say they have offered alternative trading premises and logistical support during any redevelopment, but business owners say no progress has been made. 

The owner of Ethiopian coffee shop Kaffa Coffee, who asked not to be named, that he’s “very very worried” and “doesn’t know what’s going to happen”.

The owner said that the Square “is like a community” and he’s worried this could be lost. He added that he’d already had to relocate his business from Camden once before and is concerned that he may have to do so again.

Similar sentiments were expressed by the owner of Chicago Barbers, another business operating from the Square, who also asked us not to reveal his name. He said they “know what they want to do and are just going to do it” before noting that HCD had raised the possibility of moving his business to an alternative site but nothing has been confirmed yet.

Speaking to the Hackney Post, Edward Quigley, HCD’s Chief Executive Officer, stated “We have committed to providing our tenants with continuity of business during any proposed works, and we recognise in particular how important it is for our ‘pod’ tenants to continue to trade in Gillett Square, and have reassurance that this is happening.

“We want to emphasise how important our tenants are to HCD, and recognise their patience and understanding as we work hard to make arrangements for their continued trading, and confirm this to them ASAP.

“We have many unique businesses that would not exist or be able to grow without our support. This is something we are extremely proud of, and will not change.

“As part of our support for tenants, we have committed to; providing alternative trading premises and supporting businesses logistically during any moves, providing rent-free periods during works, freezing the already extremely low rents as they are or, if we do increase, by no more than 10% and holding rents at that level for 24 months.”

In addition to Kaffe Coffee and Chicago Barbers, small businesses on Gillett Square include a Jamaican Jerk Chicken stand, a computer repair stall and another coffee shop.