The creative arts industry in Hackney is the borough’s second fastest growing sector and is the largest of all the ELL boroughs.
The business structure of Hackney has changed significantly since 2001, with a general decline in manufacturing and wholesale industries. Between 2000 and 2003, Hackney experienced the third highest loss of warehouse space in London, decreasing by almost 18 per cent.
However, the decline in traditional manual industries was mirrored by a steep rise in the numbers of arts, tech and property businesses, which rose by 38 per cent between 2007 and 2012.
The creative arts industry is now the fourth biggest sector in the borough, accounting for almost 10 per cent of all businesses in Hackney, but only 2.9 per cent of employment. This disparity is a common pattern across London, as the majority of arts businesses tend to be small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs), employing fewer than 250 people.
In Hackney, 755 of 845 arts businesses in 2012 were SMEs.
The property industry is also thriving in Hackney: the borough had the highest number of real estate businesses of the ELL boroughs in 2012, at 775, followed by Tower Hamlets with 550 and by Croydon with 420. Lewisham had the least, with 210.
Claudine Morgan, Director at the Hackney branch of Winkworth estate agents, attributes the success of the property sector to recent changes in the borough: “After the riots there was a great community spirit and programme of regeneration based in Hackney and the area around Morning Lane and the Fashion Hub. And the Olympics really put Hackney on the map. A lot of people came to the area and were surprised by the architecture and the properties and the potential that the area has.”
Morgan says that the growth of the property market is a trend that is set to continue. New branches of Foxtons, Kings, and Atkinson McLeod have recently opened in the area, as well as a few independent agents.
“It has caused a bit of a stir and a bit more competition” Morgan says, “but it’s good, healthy competition.”
Hackney also has a strong startup culture and was the second most popular location for new businesses in the ELL boroughs last year. In 2012, 16 per cent of businesses were new start-ups, most of which were concentrated around Shoreditch, Hoxton, Dalston, Stoke Newington and Hackney Wick.
Morgan explains the attraction of the area for start-ups and residents alike: “There’s quite a lot in the area, with growing markets, cafes and entertainment facilities. It’s close to the city, with the new transport links at Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction. And it just had a great cultural vibe.”