Monday 29 October 2018

Ridley Road Shopping Village traders get a reprieve and an off-shore landlord

Last Friday 26th October was the day when traders in the Ridley Road Shopping Village were to be evicted. They had been given 14 days notice to get out, by the management company which collected the rents in the covered market. Many of the traders have been there for years. 

But, following an effective community campaign, instead of changing the locks that day the management company handed back its lease to the owners of the building  - Larochette Real Estate Inc, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. The Village traders now have an off-shore company landlord.

Larochette had bought the site for £6.5million in November 2016Little is known about Larochette itself but it's UK contact address is also the registered office of Rainbow Properties Limited. Rainbow's director, Guy Ziser, is also a director of two other companies (Neuva and Rosetree) which in 2015 appeared to have shareholdings in a British Virgin Islands company called Maple Ash limited.

Image of the planned redeveloped Ridley Road Shopping Village, designed by Jestico and Wyles, who also designed 57East - the tower next to Kingsland Station - which can be seen in the background of this image

Rainbow is seeking planning permission to turn the Ridley Road Shopping Village into offices and shops plus 10 "high quality duplex apartments"  ( AKA luxury flats - Ed.) on the 1st and 2nd floors and new third floor.  
Rainbow's Planning Statement describes the Ridley Road Shopping Village as already vacant. In fact the Village is occupied by about 20 traders on the ground floor, about 60 artists on the 1st and 2nd floors and provides storage for barrows and stock for the market's street traders.

Some traders panicked when they got the eviction notice and held a "fire sale" of their stock and left

Rainbow's redevelopment plans first came to public attention during the DalstonArts150 open studios event last September when the artists announced they had been asked to vacate by 31st December . Next there was a police raid, when drugs were found at one of the units. The management company then issued an eviction letter to all of the traders. Its letter referred to a discussion with Hackney and the police regarding a Closure Order, and a police notice being served on management, so that "We have no alternative but to any event our landlord's intention is to demolish the building shortly".

In fact there was no Closure Order  - the police had simply required the management company to meet conditions which would reduce local crime. Hackney Mayor Glanville was quick to express concern, describing the managers action as "misleading and a excuse to close the market early". But the managers did not meet the police requests nor withdraw the traders' eviction notices.  

When news of the 14 day eviction notice got out, there was a public outcry. Within days a petition had been signed by over 8,000 people expressing  disgust at the traders' treatment. A deputation of traders went to Rainbow's offices to complain about their treatment. 
The traders formed an Association and instructed solicitors who informed the management company and Rainbow of the traders legal right to a minimum 6 months notice and that they "are not required to and are unwilling to give up possession". A Court injunction application was threatened.
And so, instead of evicting the traders last Friday, the management company handed back its lease to the owner, Larochette Real Estate Inc., which has now become the new landlord of the traders remaining in business.

Image of the planned redeveloped Ridley Road Shopping Village with front ground floor shops and luxury flats above

One exception to business tenants security of tenure is where the landlord intends to redevelop the property and cannot reasonably do so with the tenants in occupation. Redevelopment requires planning permission and so the local planning policies for Ridley Road market, and whether planning permission will be granted, are critical to these traders' futures.

Image of the planned redeveloped Ridley Road Shopping Village with rear ground floor offices and luxury flats above

The Shopping Village is just one of the sites in Ridley Road which is potentially facing re-development.  We have already seen one planning application granted for luxury flats - although this was later overturned by the Courts. Other applications are in the pipeline.

Whilst many of the buildings in Ridley Road would benefit from refurbishment, it is quite a different thing to replace the small affordable units, and market traders’ storage facilities, with unaffordable offices and luxury flats

It wont be the first time Ridley Market traders have been told to "get out".  Our local community has battled for years to keep our street market .The community must remain vigilant and active if the type of affordable street market we currently have -"the beating heart of Dalston" -  is to continue.

UPDATE: 1st November 2018: This piece in the Hackney Gazette reports that Rainbow have now taken over management of the Ridley Road Shopping  village ,  that "Traders will now stay for another six months at least" and that Mayor Glanville has informed Rainbow to revise their planning application because "the renovation should benefit existing traders and local residents".