Hackney residents are rejecting a planning application to build Hackney Fashion Hub with £2m from the GLA regeneration fund.
Petitioners claim the project seeks only to “cosmetically restore Hackney’s post-rioting image” rather than investing in and serving the local community.
The development, on Morning Lane and Chatham Place will include 20,505 sq ft of new retail space, a café, a restaurant and design studios where up-and-coming local designers can showcase and sell their products.
However, one of the campaigners Ellen Grace Jones, said the “gentrification of Hackney” was out-pricing the young creatives it claimed to help.
She said: “The development will increase rents for existing residents including the struggling young fashion designers the Hackney Fashion Hub project said it will help. Many are being evicted from their warehouses being sold to upmarket developers for luxury flat conversion, like Stephen House on Darnley Road. The hub will only further marginalise them.”
The area is already home to temporary Pringle and Aquascutum stores, having recently opened on the development site adjacent to the long established Burberry store.
Harry Handelsman, chief executive of one of the developers Manhattan Loft Corporation, said: “This is the next step to delivering a truly inspirational permanent fashion development in the heart of Hackney. We’ll continue working closely with local residents and retailers to make sure the Fashion Hub is a national, international and – most importantly – local success.”
Developers highlighted a consultation that ran from July 2012 to May 2013, which found a “groundswell” of local support for the plans, with more than two-thirds of consultees in favour of the proposals.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Hackney Council’s role is to ensure local residents and local businesses benefit from the Fashion Hub development in Hackney Central. To date 25 out of the 40 jobs that have been created have gone to local people. It is projected that up to 400 jobs could be created once the scheme is fully completed.
He added: “A condition of public funding is that 50% of the jobs created are awarded to local residents.”
Plans for the Hackney Fashion Hub were submitted at the end of last month and if they are approved construction will begin in early 2014.
Members of the public have until July 3 to request Hackney Council reject the planning application.