A coalition of startups have warned proposed legislation may spell the end of Tech City in the next five years
The group have written an open letter to local government secretary Eric Pickles, lobbying the minister to allow Hackney Council to be exempt from the proposed Changes in Permitted Development Rights for commercial and residential use.
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The changes could mean many buildings across Shoreditch could be converted into residential apartments, squeezing out co-working spaces and many of the startups in the area. In other words, Shoreditch could become overrun with trendy loft apartments.
The group met at the Trampery to coordinate their response.
Not opposed to affordable homes
James Governor, co-founder of Shoreditch Works – a co-working space offering support to growing startups, was keen to make clear that the group is not opposed to the building of affordable homes:
“We’re absolutely for zoning which makes economic sense and encourage mixed usage space.”
There have so far been 60 signatories to the letter, from 33 firms including co-working companies, tech startups and other concerned organisations.
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They include: The Trampery, Tech Hub, Carbon Sharp, Planet Ivy and The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) – which lobby’s on behalf of tech startups and SMEs.
“The message we want to send out is about innovation and growth. This is economically important to the UK. Downing Street is behind Tech City but these measures would be bad for business and especially bad for small businesses.”
Many of those present suggested that if the local authority were not able to exempt themselves from these new regulations London would lose out to other innovation hubs in Dublin and Berlin. One entrepreneur jokingly suggested that they should all pack up and move to Berlin, due to the comparatively cheap rents available in the German capital.
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Charles Armstrong, co-founder of The Trampery, a co-working space in Shoreditch and one of the letter’s signatories said:
“I don’t think it’s excessively dramatic to suggest that if Hackney were not exempt from the policy it could mean the end of Tech City in five years.”