Transport and accessibility improvements in Hackney Wick reached a major milestone today, as a bridge linking Hackney Wick and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park opened to the public, as well as a much-needed pedestrian underpass route from Wallis Road to Hackney Wick Overground station to benefit those who live and work in the area.
Gainsborough Bridge opened to pedestrians and cyclists after more than 80% of residents and businesses expressed their support for opening up the route and the Council received approval from the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) to go ahead with the plan earlier this year. This will improve routes in the area, reduce the use of private motor vehicles and encourage sustainable, healthier, greener and environmentally friendly transport to and from the park.
The bridge was previously only used by Gainsborough Primary School, providing students with direct access to the sports facilities on QEOP. On the western side of the canal, local residents created a garden area with planters. This land, which is owned by the Council, will be made fully publicly accessible once the bridge opens. The Council wants to work with local residents to activate the space for the local community and held a community day on 25 October to meet residents for gardening and planting activities.
Rebecca Mackenzie, interim headteacher at Gainsborough Primary School, said: “We are really looking forward to welcoming families to Gainsborough Primary School via the bridge. It 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 bridge will also provide families with the opportunity to take a scenic route home, enjoying the community gardens and walks along the canal.”
In addition to Gainsborough Bridge, an agreement between the Council and the LLDC has ensured those who live and work around Hackney Wick Overground station will be able to access the station from Wallis Road earlier than planned via the station underpass which is now able to be opened and managed by the Council on an interim basis.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing Supply, Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy, said: “In a fast changing area, the Council is determined to ensure Hackney Wick continues to be a place that inspires and supports creativity, while taking opportunities to improve amenities for new and existing residents in a part of Hackney that’s previously been disconnected from other parts of the borough and suffered a relative lack of facilities in the town centre.
“Hackney Wick is known around the world for the creativity of its businesses and its popularity has grown significantly since the 2012 Olympics. While this brings many economic benefits, the Council is aware this also makes the area susceptible to change, which we are determined the local community will also benefit from. These changes will provide opportunities for pedestrians, cyclists and commuters to get around more easily, bring benefits to the businesses which operate here and reduce pollution in the area, allowing people to lead healthier lives.”
Rosanna Lawes, Executive Director of Development at the London Legacy Development Corporation, said: “These improvements will make Hackney Wick and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park even more accessible for local residents, businesses and visitors. The area has excellent transport links – like the upgraded and award winning Hackney Wick Overground Station – and these latest projects are examples of the work we do with partners to invest in Hackney Wick providing new affordable workspace, homes and jobs.”
Gavin du Preez, Estate Director at Here East, the innovation and technology campus to the north of the station, said: “We are constantly working to make Here East and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park more accessible and integrated to the wider Hackney community and, so we are very pleased we will now have this direct pedestrian connection between Hackney Wick and the campus.
“Hackney Wick is one of the most vibrant and exciting areas in the whole of London, home to an impressive array of creative businesses and hospitality venues with a core community focus. We hope this new route encourages more families and young people to explore Here East and Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and opens the door for greater co-operation in key areas such as sustainable transport, community initiatives, and business collaborations.”
Jordanna Greaves, co-founder of Hackney Wick independent creative enterprise Grow, who originally pushed for a temporary route to the station, said: “The opening of the new underpass leading to and from Hackney Wick Overground is music to our ears. Since the entrance on Wallis Road closed over two years ago, we've seen a decrease in footfall on our side of Hackney Wick and the sole entrance and exit made the walk from the station a longer one. 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.”
Gainsborough Bridge was built in 2014 and passes over the Lee Navigation canal between Wick Village and Gainsborough Primary School and Here East on the QEOP. In 2018, Hackney Wick Overground station benefitted from a multimillion pound upgrade, part-funded by the Council, which has provided a new underpass, lifts and overall improved access to the station.
For more information on Hackney Wick, visit https://hackney.gov.uk/regeneration-hackney-wick