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Borough by borough: Hackney
Despite regeneration Hackney has managed to retain its edgy and eclectic reputation. This largely reflects the active community involvement, with residents keen to protect the intrinsic character of the borough that makes it so special.
Over recent years Hackney has transformed its gritty reputation. While still viewed as edgy and eclectic, it is much more synonymous with affluence than it has been. Part of what has been driving Hackney forward is the increase in business; Hackney has seen 21% business growth since 2004 which is nearly double London’s rate. This new activity is concentrated primarily in media, technology and consulting and is based, for the most part, in Shoreditch.
At the same time, Hackney has seen major transport improvements in recent years, such as the new Dalston Junction and Dalston Kingsland Overground stations. There have also been improvements in Shoreditch and Hoxton, making the borough significantly more accessible. In addition, further infrastructure improvements are expected with multi-million-pound plans in place to improve Hackney Wick Overground station over the next three years. This investment will transform the area and make it a fitting hub destination that will offer business space, restaurants, new homes, shops and parklands, and a 6,000-seat multi-use venue.
This strengthening has fuelled population growth, with an 18% increase over the last decade. The population is expected to increase by a further 12% increase (or 31,000 extra people), the third highest expected growth in Inner London. As a result, there has been significant house price growth; Hackney has had the fifth highest average house price growth in London over the past decade at 125% and 15% growth over the last year alone. Current average house prices for the borough across the board currently sit at £606,005, the seventh highest in Inner London.
However, some areas have much higher prices. For example, average prices in Shoreditch are around £939,996. In contrast, more fringe areas, such as Dalston (£576,321), Stoke Newington (£540,532) and Clapton (£454,364), provide more opportunities for investors and first-time home buyers alike.
Hackney attracts a young and trendy population with its cafe culture, clubs, bars and cultural offering; at 32.6 years, it has one of the lowest average ages. Despite the resulting gentrification and pick up in underlying affluence, Hackney remains very much grounded in the local community, which is part of its charm. This is reflected in a number of local start-up businesses. In addition, community groups, such as Growing Spaces, Capital Growth and Growing Communities address local issues such as a lack of green space. Hackney is home to a number of rare bees, which are protected under the Hackney Biodiversity Action Plan. Local residents are also trying to protect the bees by planting a number of pockets of wild flowers across the area, this ‘River of Flowers’, is meant to make the bee’s journey back to the hive less arduous.