Monday, 21 April 2008

Flats or Flair: what’s the priority for Hackney?

Priorities, priorities, priorities. This could soon be the buzz word for artists and homeless people in Hackney.

The Hackney Gazette reports that a group of artists are against plans for high rise developments because they fear the place will become a ghetto.

The paper claims that artists including Tracey Emin and Dinos Chapman have expressed their concerns in an open letter to the London mayor, Ken Livingstone.

With all due respect, Shoreditch (and Bethnal Green Road) already seems to have traits of a ghetto, nevertheless …

Have these artists considered that for an area currently experiencing serious levels of overcrowding, these very ‘detestable’ tall towers may house several families and homeless people?

According to Team Hackney, overcrowding in Hackney in the social rented sector is serious and worsening.

But on the other hand, maybe the artists are right. The towers could look ugly in trendy Shoreditch - and who knows what their presence would bring?

This is where the ‘priority’ word comes in: is housing or recreation a priority for Hackney at this point in time?

Whose cry will matter most to Ken Livingston or his colleagues at Hackney Council: artists or those in need of accommodation?

Interestingly others in the area, like supporters of the Hackney Independent, believe such high rise buildings will not benefit ordinary working class families or the homeless.

They say such flats going up in the area are aimed at rich middle class professionals.

This ropes in the possibility that the need for new flats are actually a priority for another group: rich property/building companies with an aim to build flats for yuppies.

They are unlikely to help the many families in need of basic accommodation or the homeless. They may not even impress the angry artists.

At a time when Ken Livingston is trying to win the hearts (I think I mean votes here) of every Londoner – artists, homeless, rich property developers – we may not know whose voice will be heard for a long while.

Meanwhile, above is a video of other folk who decided they had another priority for high rise flats in Hackney: operating pirate radio stations.

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