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The Threat is from Within …

Posted August 11, 2014

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The threat is from within  … Hatton Garden, an area that was heavily bombed during WWII but escaped much of the brutalist re-developmentof the ’60’s and ’70’s – until now!  Despite conservation orders on this area, designed to protect the numerous small studios and workshops, work has begun to knock down a building in Baldwins Gardens that housed many workshops and studios.  The old Central St. Martin’s annexe in Back Hill has also been sold for re-evelopment and is about to be demolished.  It is the threat from within – from our own government  – that has forced through changes in planning regulation to speed up the process and clear buildings that are being used by small businesses so that they can be replaced with new blocks of flats.   Many of the tenants cannot find suitable space in or around Hatton Garden and have been forced to move from the area.

Many of these flats  are sold off-plan to non-resident investors driving up prices of both residential and business property and creating  – in Chelsea and Kensington – ghost towns.  The mystery is why this highly unpopular policy has been created.  The flats are rarely even offered to the local community.   As the sale has taken place overseas the government does not benefit from  tax or other  revenue and the people who purchase these properties have no interest in their maintenance as they have no plans to live in them.  Its just a safe place to make their money work for them.

In the meantime, the workshops and studios in Hatton Garden – and in many others parts of London such as Cork Street, Saville Row and even Old Street – are being driven away.  An industry that has survived two world wars and two depressions could be driven away and the clusters of expertise that has brought economic prosperity to the area will go with it.

So do we accept it as a fact of life?  Progress?  Or do we fight?