Friday, 23 July 2010

Hackney Mayor vs Westfield, worlds largest retail property group

This story from "The Wharf" reported the London Assembly's economic development committee's (July 20 2010) discussion about the Olympics legacy.

It included the negative views from a couple of guest speakers on the media centre. One of these speakers was John Burton, the director of Westfield Stratford, who has worked for Westfield for 14 years. Wikipedia's Westfield page describes the company as: "the largest retail property group in the world by equity market capitalisation".

The Wharf report on this discussion said: "The media centre looks to be the most troublesome to fill after the Games with Anna Harding of Space Studios calling it a "monstrosity that is an insult to the creative community of Hackney". She also believes that the centre will need a great deal of further financial investment to turn it into a viable location to house businesses or creative and media companies.

The Wharf also reports: "John Burton, the director of Westfield Stratford City also expressed his concerns over the future of the media centre as there was no obvious tenant to take on ownership. He said: "The centre doesn't have a logical next step. Whether it should be a media facility or not, it will take time to decide. I wouldn't comment on what it should be used for but the biggest problem for the media centre for a developer is accessibility."

Here is Burton on video describing how helpful it was to sign-up John Lewis for his Olympic Park store... so he may be he knows about filling up spaces.

But apparently he's wrong. The latest edition of the Economist says Jules Pipe is pining his hopes on the media centre: "His main longer-term hope lies with the broadcasting and media centres in the Olympic Park. Hackney is home to lots of small firms in “creative” industries, from post-production work for Hollywood studios to printing and advertising, for which the media centre could become a new base. That in turn would spawn work in nearby coffee shops and so forth."

With notoriously problematic projects like The Ocean and Clissold Leisure Centre on his CV, maybe the people of Hackney should ask if the Mayor's faith in the project is backed by research - and whether the borough has managed to put its Local Economic Assessment together yet: Hole in council's economic analysis. (I should confess that I wrote both of these pieces without asking for a response from Hackney Council. I asked them for one today (friday) hopefully everything I've written so far is rubbish and I owe an apology and correction).

(This Building Design piece suggests Space Studios could be under threat)

Hackney space cat

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