Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs has called for the imminent demolition of artists’ studios at Vittoria Wharf to be halted.
The building is due to be knocked down as part of plans to build a footbridge and new road bridge between Fish Island and the Olympic Park.
It is a project by the Mayor’s London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) which said the new routes will serve the growing communities and help avoid congestion on White Post Lane.
But campaigners from Save Hackney Wick say the development will push out the artistic community and clog up the rare low-traffic neighbourhood.
Supporter Simon Munk from London Cycling Campaign said: “This is a thriving area full of creative businesses and residents.
“The proposed road bridge goes directly against the Mayor’s new Transport Strategy and would turn a growing, popular liveable neighbourhood into a ratrun.”
Their concerns have now been backed by Mayor Biggs who joins Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali and London Assembly members such as Caroline Pidgeon and Navin Shah in opposing the scheme.
The mayor has written to London’s Deputy Mayor Planning Regeneration And Skills Jules Pipe asking for an “urgent” meeting to discuss the project.
He wrote: “I am fundamentally concerned at the apparent lack of consideration that the LLDC has given to genuine local representations against the wisdom of this bridge and the need for additional crossings.”
Poor air quality in the borough, failure by LLDC to provide traffic impact reports and lack of commitment from TfL to provide a corresponding bus route were the objections he listed to the project.
He also pointed out Fish Island is already connected to the park via pedestrian bridges and upgrades of bridges to provide quicker access to Hackney Wick station were the “most urgent” along with a safe crossing over the A12.
He said: “I still believe the LLDC can review this decision and pause construction while my position is considered.”
His request has been welcomed by the campaigners who are fighting to retain Vittoria Wharf as it provides low cost studios to creatives.
A Save Hackney Wick spokesperson said: “The LLDC’s attack on an Asset of Community Value ignores the Mayor of London’s community-focused Good Growth, a vision for London based around sound urban design expertise to build a London where no community feels left behind.
“With the new chair of the LLDC, Sadiq must halt demolition and review these out-of-date plans so that we can retain this vital place for the long term.”
Supporter and founder of creative workspace provider The Trampery Charles Armstrong said: “The low level of traffic in Hackney Wick and Fish Island has been a key factor in the neighbourhood’s success as a creative cluster.
“Creative businesses thrive in this village environment where it’s possible to walk from studio to studio without encountering traffic.
“This is exactly the kind of liveable neighbourhood the Mayor is working to promote.
“Creating a through road in Fish Island would split the neighbourhood in two and reduce its appeal to creative businesses and residents alike, with the risk of lost jobs and skills.
“I urge the Mayor to reconsider this damaging scheme.”
The two bridges date from the earliest Olympic plans in 2003 when car access was seen as a pressing priority.
At the time Vittoria Wharf, an industrial building built in 1898, was empty and abandoned.
But since then Hackney Wick has grown into one of London’s most successful creative quarters but artists say the development across the Olympics area means they are being forced to move on.
The LLDC says the roads and bridges are a requirement of Sweetwater, a new neighbourhood on the Olympic park being jointly developed with Balfour Beatty.
A spokesperson said: “We do understand the concerns of some local residents and we have been at pains to listen to their comments and arguments. However, this is a long standing issue that was first discussed as long ago as 2004.”
Planning permission for the bridges was granted in 2012 and detailed plans for a 6.5 metre road with 20mph speed limit were approved in April 2017
The spokesperson added: “The bridges meet a current and future need serving growing communities on both Fish Island and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
“They will help deliver the Mayor’s Healthy Streets approach by creating new routes for public transport and encouraging walking and cycling.
“Without the bridges, congestion will build on White Post Lane making the air quality worse.”
Keep up to date with all our articles on Facebook