diamond geezer

 Tuesday, February 21, 2023

After I left Sutton House I walked round the corner and noticed that the Nike outlet store on Morning Lane had closed. I blogged about the house and tweeted about the shops. I may have got these the wrong way round.

diamond geezer @diamondgeezer · Feb 19
Now Nike's gone, every single outlet at
Hackney Walk (the doomed fashion hub paid
for with £1.5m of public money) is now empty
🗨️68 🔁354 ❤️1749

This has become my third most popular tweet of all time, which is going some in 24 hours.

I'm not sure if that's because it was edgy urban commentary, because people despair about wasted public money or just because the photo was good. It may also be because I didn't add any wider context so people were free to add their own or perhaps jump to all sorts of conclusions.

For the record I've written about Hackney Walk twice before, once in 2017 when it was new and quiet and once in 2020 when it was failed and moribund. Also, as pointed out in certain replies, other parties have written about the scandal of Hackney Walk in far more accurate detail.

So today I thought I'd crowdsource a post out of responses to my tweet, because that's probably more illuminating than me writing all the same stuff again.

This is the reply that got the most likes.
It’s been empty 70% since 2013, the money was given to help restore hackney after the riots but went to waste. So many locals in that area could’ve used that space but it was sat dormant for the last 7 years. Pathetic. ❤️235
Hackney Walk wasn't open in 2013, indeed I'd say the "70% empty" threshold was probably only reached in 2019. But the riot funding bit is true.

Here are three other tweets based on incorrect information.
• Other side of the road is well-occupied. Why can’t they put together a use for the empty space?
• There is just no footfall, great pre existing infrastructure, terrible location.
• Hackney Walk was supposed to be a blended outlet, maker centre and hang out spot. Now it's likely to be replaced with new homes, with locals very unhappy about how this unfolded and concerned about future plans.
In contrast, these tweets offered excellent background information.
• Council used three quarters of the funding given by Mayor of London to build an overpriced "global fashion hub" but tried to make the commercial rent so high that brands couldn't/didn't want to pay. A complete & utter balls up.
• We pitched to do their advertising years ago and they were totally confused by everything. Aiming at the kinds of tourists that go to Bicester, but not with the brands that would bring them or the parking for them.
• I used to work near here and would often go for a mooch round at lunch. Often I'd go into Aquascutum and be the only customer in there and the streets were almost deserted. I have no idea why but the footfall was woeful. This place was always baffling
• I worked at that Nike. The space opposite has been empty since it opened in 2016… it’s now 2023
• Not only is it all empty, but they employ security guards with angry dogs to sit about all day and night near here so nobody breaks in to the empty unused space.
See also these exchanges...
• I grew up in Hackney lived there for 30 years but haven’t been back for a while. Is this where all the old car repair garages used to be?
• Yes. They were kicked out for this development which has been an epic fail.

• Burberry, the seed for the whole idea, are still around the corner.
• Agreed. Burberry has been there for ever & we young ‘uns back in the day got tons of bargains from there when it was just a factory shop with sample clothes all over the floor stacked in big brown boxes!
Some people were surprised Hackney Walk had imploded.
• rah they got rid of Nike wow
• no way they closed hackney nike outlet?????
• Not even a vape shop, or a phone covers trader? Sheeesh
• It’s got cycle infrastructure. No more than 15 minutes active travel for >0.5 million people. How on Earth has it failed?
But most weren't.
• I never understood the architecture and the cheap ass gold and the whole thing really - it looks lame and no-one ever went there
• What happens when you frame regeneration and placemaking around the property sector rather than people.
• These sides were in desperate need of youth clubs and community projects esp after the riots but noooOooOOo let's do up bicester village under the railway, pricks
• It was always empty, think they were only marketing it to visitors going to Burberry? Mostly Chinese or Japanese etc. locals were not the target and it was unsustainable
• Have you tried to drive and park in Hackney? Businesses are doomed due to the ridiculous traffic schemes
• With Westfield Stratford not too far Hackney Walk had no chance.
• An instructive omnishambles for just how bad "regeneration" can get.
• Its what they deserve for catering to yuppies
Some people were keen to point out they'd never have allowed this to happen.
• I thought that this was going to be an utter disaster when it was built 10 years ago and I’ve been proven correct. So typical of a totally discredited approach to regeneration.
• Every time I walk past this failed gentrification project it confirms everything I thought about it at the start. A colossal waste of money
• An absolute waste. When they were building this I remember those of us actually from the area were very vocal about how much of a bad idea this was. Gentrification sucks.
• This was an utter waste of money from the start. Locals told them it'd flop but they wouldn't listen. This is what happens when you disregard the community and try force something without doing any proper leg work
• The tragic Bronze Elephant. I remember the petition requesting the GLA money to go to youth clubs and to businesses damaged by the riots instead. So then its a given that this is what happens; when regeneration is done *to* the community rather than *for*.
Several people applied their business acumen to propose businesses that would have done better in this location.
• Put the right thing there and they will come. I used to work in the area and remember Dark Arts coffee roasters, just around the corner, being packed every weekend. It seems a stretch to expect a cluster of shops alone to be a strong enough draw to an area with low footfall.
• Just a bit further up from there are a bunch of great brewery taprooms and a vegan market. So much potential to make this a food/drinks space as well. Outlet stores always seemed so weird there.
• Local councils should start offering 6 month free rent to start ups or community organisations. Invest in the local community to see if they can make a success.
• Perfect example of underutilised, well located + connected space that could be offered at low-rent to cargo bike firms.
• My votes on turning it into a community hub with free arts programmes, cheap hot good food, reading spaces etc.
• So many amazing small British clothes makers that would probably love a space there if the rent was cheap!
• Maybe @hackneycouncil should give free rent to local marginalised businesses
• How about letting @vagina_museum into one? Much better use than no use
• open some decent queer late-night venues there for the love of god
• They should turn these spaces into youth clubs
• Time for an American candy store
• We should squat it
A few people were tediously snarky.
• Browsing boutique clothing shops while inhaling idling car fumes always makes for an enjoyable shopping experience. I’ve no idea how this could have ever failed
• I wonder what the fancy bike stands cost compared to normal ones
• Put an LTN in, that will drive business back.
Some people are always over-happy to sneer at politicians.
• Labour party stronghold Hackney a bit like Newham. I am not surprised at all that it is Empty.
• Another of Boris Johnson’s vanity projects alongside that eyesore outside West Hams ground.
• Wonder if it got a mention at the shindig the Council hosted on urban regeneration!
• Hackney Council gave us fruit statues rather than actually helping our community
• Councils shouldn’t run shops
• I hate our council jesus
• Labour cllrs to blame
• more govvy fraud?
Some people paraded their prejudices.
• #ActiveTravel cycle lane anti-trade anti-bus user devastation by @tfl cycle Bloomberg puppet @MayorofLondon funded by @transportgovuk and backed by @RishiSunak and central government. Dystopia and destruction of cities at thw behest of lycra clad lunatics. Bravo.
• from 2012 onwards Hackney has just been violently sacrificing its Working Class to appease the whyte middle class residents flooding in. The amount of working class families that got shifted for this is unsettling but this is where Ldns famously working class towns are heading
This being Twitter there were some short sharp responses.
• “You’ll see no-one…, doing the Hackney Walk.”
• Those plants in the foreground tell a story.
• Can’t polish a turd
And ultimately the Mayor of Hackney chipped in with some truth.
• These are all really gd ideas, but sadly the Council don't own the Arches nor manage them, @thearchcompany are in process of resolving ownership, & through @hackneycouncil's successful Levelling Up bid we're exploring how we can bring them back into use in an inclusive way.
It's just a shame hardly anyone who left a comment will have seen it.

Whatever the underlying reasons and potential mitigations, Hackney Walk is plainly a regeneration disaster area. Let's hope the council can ultimately sort the mess out.

And I'd like to apologise to the 150 people who followed me on Twitter yesterday because they will not be enjoying an exclusive stream of #Hackney-based content.

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