Local view: will developers cost Hackney Wick its soul?

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Graffitit on Fish Island Hackney Wick. Image: Julian Osley
Graffitit on Fish Island Hackney Wick. Image: Julian Osley

What do local residents think of artists’ concerns over soaring rent prices? Would Hackney Wick really become a “soulless residential area” if developers moved in? The Hackney Post took to the streets of Europe’s most concentrated area of artists to find out…

Rodrigo Raffazzi Hackney Wick Vox Pop
Rodrigo Raffazzi

Rodrigo Raffazzi, 26, Videographer, Dalston.

“Hackney Wick is a very vibrant core of artists. It differs from other areas of London because it’s still a very underground place. There are a few investments flooding in the area and this will definitely change the vibe, but I’m pretty sure they can’t wipe of the whole artistic current. It’s getting more and more populated and it’s one of the most artistic places in London.”

Edward Lamo, 27. Production Assistant, Greenwich.

“It would be a shame if the artists had to leave, but it’s inevitable in London because the population is increasing and it keeps expanding out. Although it means that artists are going to have to look for somewhere else, a new community will start somewhere else and perhaps rejuvenate another area of London like it has in other areas of the east like Brick Lane. It’s nice to have a vibrant scene around and on your doorstep with a creative output.”

Hackney Post James Walters
James Walters

James Walters, 28, Content writer, Fish Island.

“They’re going to ruin an area that is already so unique, vibrant and very energetic and make it in to something that is stock standard London. I think the conservation area is a great idea, it will at least slow the prices, and mean artists can stay in this area. The area is so unique, it’s all old warehouses, it’s half the charm, and if they can keep that they can keep the creative flair. I know a lot of artists who are thinking about moving out towards Clapton, but that’s also pretty pricey. They’re slowly being pushed out.”

Chris Gray, 25, Wholesale manager at Crate Brewery, Fish Island.

“I’ve lived here for just over a year and a half. It’s busier now, but I love the community. Everyone knows each other, if you need a hand with anything you can always knock on someone’s door. The whole warehouse and studio space ethos will be lost, because people won’t be able to afford it. Artists and designers don’t make a huge fortune.”

Hajni Semesei
Hajni Semesei

Hajni Semesei, 38, Director at Arbeit art gallery, Stratford.

“I can not say it shouldn’t be changed. It’s happening, I understand that it’s sad but at the same time Hackney Wick is not the only place where change is happening, it’s everywhere. If the location is good, close to the centre, there is good transport then obviously it is a good business opportunity, then they make it residential. People will move here, you need more residential space but the question is who will be able to pay it and that will probably be nobody who is here at the moment. Hopefully it will never get into the Shoreditch situation, it’s not nice there. People need to work together to create something that is still artistic, not like what happened in Shoreditch.”

Lara Bell, 28, Hackney Wick, Freelance Producer.

“I am worried about it, I‘ve been in touch with the council over some of the plans to preserve the land around here. But I also think that’s one of the things in London, you can’t really stop change. It may meant hat we need to move out at some point but then we’ll move onto somewhere else and that always happens so I don’t think you can stop a machine like London from doing that. But actually the rents are still quite cheap in comparison to some other places so we can’t really worry about it until it’s happened. We can try and hope that we have a few more years until we have to think about it.”