Plans for the first phase of a £100m scheme to build a fashion retail hub in Hackney were submitted to the local council this week.
The design, by David Adjaye Associates (whose London work includes the Whitechapel Idea Store and theStephen Lawrence Centre), is for two eight-storey buildings on Chatham Place, near to the site of an existing Burberry outlet store best known for its popularity with coachloads of Chinese tourists. A second phase of the project will redevelop the railway arches along Morning Lane, converting them into retail units. The development will contain a mixture of shops, offices and restaurants, and it is expected to open in 2016. Hackney council claim that it will create 400 jobs for local people, and that local designers and small scale start-ups will be able to showcase their work against more established brands.
Plans for the shopping centre emerged in 2012 as Hackney council sought ways to address the borough’s economic and social problems, which played out during the riots of the previous summer. Whether a fashion hub is the best solution or one that might exacerbate the divide between the haves and have-nots is a risk the council seems willing to take, but a satirical website for the Hackney Haute Quarter, which described the area as a “sexy ghetto” with “anti-social capital”, neatly summed up many of the tensions inherent in this increasingly gentrified borough.