Seven-figure funding from Unity Trust Bank helps to boost business opportunities
A £1.8m funding package from Unity Trust Bank will help breathe new life into a unique public space in East London with the improvement and creation of new affordable business units and employment opportunities.
Hackney Cooperative Developments CIC (HCD), a local community development organisation, is using the loans from Unity Trust Bank, Trust for London, London Borough of Hackney and funding from Greater London Authority to expand its Bradbury Street premises overlooking Gillett Square in Dalston.
Once complete, it will provide 23 newly-refurbished office spaces, 10 new retail spaces and 457 square metres of new affordable workspace, safeguarding 265 jobs and creating 69 new ones.
Gillett Square is a public open space in Dalston with jazz bars and food outlets and is a popular meeting place for a diverse range of people.
Anthonia Onigbode, chief operations and financial officer at HCD said: “The support we have had from organisations such as Unity have been the bedrock of this redevelopment, which will enhance the overall facilities in Gillett Square.
“Unity is an ethical bank so perfectly fits our remit. Our relationship manager Andy Ledger understands what we are trying to achieve and I really like his personal touch and the fact that he responds to you within 24 hours. I’ve recommended Unity to lots of other organisations.”
HCD obtained funding in 2018 to improve facilities at HCD’s Woodberry Down premises where existing Bradbury Street tenants have relocated until the project is completed in spring 2022.
HCD owns seven properties and provides affordable rents for start-ups and support for hundreds of co-operatives and social enterprises. It is an accredited training provider, delivering skills programmes for more than 500 people every year, and plays a key role in co-ordinating community events in Gillett Square, including outdoor play equipment.
Anthonia said: “While our primary function is to provide affordable workspaces, the income we generate is reinvested back into the community through business support, training and initiatives.
“Gillett Square is a very vibrant place which attracts people of all ages, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.
“In recent years the area has suffered from anti-social behaviour, which is being addressed by the authorities, and when the redevelopment is complete Gillett Square will do what it does best again – providing a vital support network for the community.”
Andy Ledger, relationship manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “Dalston is in the 10% most deprived wards in the UK and we are delighted to support the redevelopment in Gillett Square as it will create much-needed business and employment opportunities.
“By providing affordable workspace below market rate, into-work training courses and funding community and business activities, HCD not only help boost the local economy but they enhance the well-being of people who live in the area.”