A bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, which links Hackney Wick and Olympic Park, has opened to the public. The Hackney Gazette reports that access to Gainsborough Bridge was given after emphatic support from local residents and businesses. A new pedestrian underpass has also opened between Wallis Road and Hackney Wick Overground station.
Gainsborough Bridge was rebuilt in 2012 as part of the Olympic Park development, but it remained closed to the public because at the time, there was ongoing construction in the area.
The bridge crosses the Lea Navigation canal between Gainsborough School and Here East. Until recently, it was only used to allow students of the school access to the sports facilities at the Olympic Park. As part of Hackney Council’s Public Access Strategy, they applied to the London Legacy Development Corporation for planning approval for public access.
As part of the Council’s community engagement report, they consulted Hackney residents for their opinions. 81% of respondents approved of the bridge reopening. The main reasons for this include better access to amenities and green spaces, direct access to the Olympic Park facilities, and walking routes away from busy main roads.
Rebecca Mackenzie, interim headteacher at the Gainsborough School, said: “[The bridge] will make the school more accessible, shortening journey times for pupils who live on the other side of the canal and helping us visit the school playing fields, Olympic Park and Hackney Marshes easily.”
The public commented in the community engagement report that they wanted to preserve the public garden on the western side of the canal, which is used by the local community for gardening and planting activities.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, portfolio holder for planning, culture and inclusive economy, said: “The council is determined to ensure Hackney Wick continues to be a place that inspires and supports creativity, while taking opportunities to improve local amenities for both new and existing residents.”
It is hoped that the bridge, and also the new underpass, will reduce car use and air pollution in the area, by making it more convenient to get around the district by foot or bike. Among those residents who campaigned for the underpass was Jordanna Greaves, co-founder of Hackney Wick independent creative enterprise Grow.
Jordanna told the Gazette: “This underpass will help people move around the area more easily and businesses based here will be pleased to be able to welcome people again.”
Grow offers creative spaces for artists, craftspeople, and entrepreneurs to rent co working spaces or studios at affordable rates, or on a profit-share model. They are also a thriving arts venue and bar and restaurant. The main focus of the enterprise is social inclusion and sustainability rather than profit.
Wherever possible, they source ingredients and equipment from local and ethical businesses, and work with local community groups and charities, to offer free space, and to fundraise on their behalf. They began in 2014, but are part of a wider ecosystem of studios in London which was established in 2007.
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