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KERB Life Podcast : E05

Episode 5: The Regeneration Game

Regeneration, tactical urbanism and food as place-maker.

Podcast Summary (It's way better to listen)

Hackney Wick Regeneration – Is It Working?


00:00: The Sounds of Hackney Wick
01:00: Petra Barran, Founder KERB – clips from Tedx Talk – How Street Food Feeds the Soul
03:10: Mark Gervaux, The Ribman
07:12: Back to the Start of the Game, Scott McMahon
07:53: Neema Teranchi, Save Hackney Wick Group
11:13: Neil Mcdonald, Stour Space
14:24: Westfield, Stratford Shopping Centre
16:36: Here East, Gavin Poole, CEO
24:42: Theo-Lee Houston, Owner of Teala Tea Stall
28:41: Ian Dodds, Head of Communications and Markets at KERB
34:25: Who am I, Susana Silva

In this episode, KERB Podcaster Robin Leeburn weaves through the streets of Hackney Wick, east London, talking to people who have watched the neighbourhood change beyond recognition.

It never would have happened without the London 2012 Olympic Games, when a public injection of more than £9 billion poured into the area, followed by an even bigger private investment. The toxic soil and polluted canals were cleaned and mammoth new developments sprung up, including Westfield, one of the largest urban shopping malls in Europe, 5 world-class sports venues, and an entirely new village.

The Cultural and Education district is underway now, an ‘Olympicopolis’ with new venues for Sadler’s Wells Theatre, UAL’s London College of Fashion and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

On the other side of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is Here East, a gigantic work space for 5,300 tech innovators.

Robin spoke to Gavin Poole, CEO of Here East, who said “Here East doesn’t want to be seen as a sort of space age space ship, landing in someone’s backyard, completely unapproachable and disconnected from the community.” Here East wants the radicals, reformers, visionaries, industry heroes; the new space is billed as a ’habitat to call their own’.

But Hackney Wick was already a habitat that visionaries called their own, a cooperative community of artists that could turn a crumbling space into a hive of creative production. The character of the area is changing as these last affordable warehouses are demolished and wiped off the map.

For Neema Teranchi, who leads the Save Hackney Wick Group, the only word that comes to mind is ‘decimation’. “If we lose this, we lose one of London’s few breeding grounds for artists, artwork, development, careers, rising stars. That’s something that feeds into the city…If you’re going to have a balanced diet as a city, you need a little bit of this, it can’t all become residential mixed use buildings.”

The rapid transformation of the Olympic Park area, which spans four London boroughs, was driven by top-down town planning. It was a brutal clearing of grassroots communities, in exchange for shiny ultramodern workspaces, surrounded by carefully planted wildflowers. The organically grown communities of Hackney Wick are not easy transplanted into the new, manufactured spaces.

KERB helps bring new life into the shocked streets after a change. Paddington and Kings Cross have seen startling regeneration and are both buzzing venues for KERBs regular lunch markets.

Ian Dodds, Head of Markets at KERB said, “We see it as a bit of tactical urbanism. It’s a case of putting these fantastic small businesses into incredible, high footfall locations that give them a serious sense of viability and a realistic chance of making money.”

Working with KERB to hold space in the big city for grassroots entrepreneurship is a way to win the regeneration game. Small businesses thrive, local people get used to meeting up in the new space and London’s cheek by jowl social mix is preserved.

Everyone wins.




The KERB Life podcast has been produced, edited and hosted by Robin Leeburn, of Fairly
Executive Producer: Petra Barran

John Plaskett Blackfriars Bridge
Scott McMahon Hungerford Bridge
Just Joseph, Blackfriars Bridge
Giovanni Spadoni Camden High Street
Susana Silva, Hungerford Bridge

Nima Teranchi – Save Hackney Wick
Neil McDonald – Founding Director, Stour Space
Gavin Poole – CEO Here East
Ian Dodds – Head of Comms and Markets, KERB

Further Reading

From green park to theme park? Evolving legacy visions for London’s Olympic Park – Andrew Smith, Westminster University, Architectural Research Quarterly

Meet the traders in this story
The Rib Man – Mark Gevaux
Teala – Theo Lee Houston