What the Creative Enterprise Zone means for Hackney Wick and Fish Island

Hackney Wick and Fish Island (HWFI ) have just been recognised as one of London’s most exciting creative communities – but for those of us lucky enough to have lived in Bow for a while, this won’t come as news.

Last December, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, designated HWFI as a ‘Creative Enterprise Zone’ (CEZ), following on from an initial award in 2018.

With about 250 artist studios and 100 creative businesses, it is vital that this area is nurtured and protected as there is so much pressure for former industrial space to be converted to residential property.

We want to see London’s development work for everyone and so this project is at the cutting edge of ensuring ‘inclusive economy.

The last decade has seen dramatic change around Fish Island and this change is set to speed up as developers start to build the homes which have received planning permission over the last few years.

While the former industrial spaces provided affordable studio space for artists and makers, one of the challenges for the area is to protect affordable workspace and encourage local businesses to benefit from this space. 

We already have fantastic community spaces such as Stour Space and The Yard theatre, which should be protected by planning policies and proposals into the future. But we also need to prepare and protect work space and job opportunities as they develop and the CEZ aims to do just that.

Local Planning policy requires that some of the new work space is affordable and this should help to protect some businesses but the CEZ project should go further by protecting a pipeline of affordable workspace and encouraging the take-up of this space by new and current businesses. Supporting this pipeline should mean that businesses are not forced to move out.

The cultural, creative, digital and tech sectors present amazing opportunities to Tower Hamlets residents and so we want to make sure that local residents have the skills to take up the new jobs. 

It’s only if we support residents’ skills development and link them to the new jobs, that we will make sure that everyone benefits from the growth of these sectors on our doorsteps.  The CEZ should make it easier for people to find their way into these types of jobs by supporting training and linking people into local jobs.

Another major challenge for the area is making sure that businesses have access to job-ready apprentices as well as business support services available from the Council. And so another element of the project is to set up a service for employers within the CEZ to ensure easy access to apprenticeships and internships.

As the project continues, we hope to see more residents securing work in one of these growing sectors as well as more local businesses able to take up new workspace, secured through planning policies and support from the CEZ team.

As soon as the team is set up and the training and workspace opportunities are confirmed, you will be able to get in touch with the CEZ team directly, but in the meantime, please do contact me for more information.

Councillor Rachel Blake
Phone: 020 7364 1378
Email: Cllr.Rachel.Blake@towerhamlets.gov.uk
Twitter: @RNBlake

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