Planning permission secured for £75m student accommodation scheme in Hackney Wick


The Piano Works

Developer Southern Grove has secured permission to create a £75million mixed-use student accommodation scheme that will complete the transformation of Hackney Wick into one of the fastest growing educational and cultural centres in London.

Most importantly, the project will house two organisations of huge importance to the local community, on a peppercorn rent for 150 years.

The Piano Works, on the site of the former Broadwood piano factory in Fish Island, will house 204 student beds in two six and seven-storey blocks.

The ground floor of both buildings will host incubator space for the London College of Fashion (University of the Arts London). This is the first time UAL has been provided with a facility like this, which promises to transform the prospects of the next-generation of fashion industry leaders.

A third five-storey building will contain 840m2 of commercial floorspace, which will be entirely given over to community organisation, the Stour Trust, which nurtures local commercial, artistic and industrial enterprises.

With these two important organisations embedded in the scheme, the development will create a new centre of gravity in the cultural life of Hackney Wick.

Students will enjoy co-working facilities, and space for pop-ups and creative workshops. Southern Grove hopes to exceed a planning requirement that 35% of the student accommodation is affordable, providing a discount on market rents of more than 50% in some cases.

The Piano Works, on Stour Rd, will help Hackney Wick complete its evolution into one of the most vibrant off-campus student communities in London — a journey in which the Southern Grove team had already played a prominent role.

Southern Grove’s joint venture sister company, the PBSA specialist Future Generation, was responsible for creating The Vogue, a 330-bed mixed-use student scheme which sits on the adjacent site.

The area is fast becoming a crossroads for students across east London, being only a short walk from five world-famous institutions. The site is less than five minutes’ stroll from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP).

Just the other side of the park is the University of East London (UEL) campus in Stratford, while Queen Mary University of London sits just to the south-west of Fish Island in Mile End.

Even closer are Loughborough University London’s postgraduate campus and UCL’s East Campus, which are sited within the Olympic Park. That’s also where the London College of Fashion (University of the Arts London) will be moving.

Its new campus at Stratford Waterfront, currently under development, will bring together its six existing sites in one place for the first time in its 120-year history.

The Piano Works was designed by architects Henley Halebrown. Southern Grove was also assisted by planning consultants Knight Frank and townscape consultants Montagu Evans. Development agent Tom Brain, of Hillstone Group, represented the developer in securing the site.

Tom Slingsby, CEO of Southern Grove Group, commented:

“Hackney Wick will soon be one of the most vibrant and exciting places to be in the capital and we’re tremendously proud that we’ve played a huge role in making that happen.

The Piano Works will be yet another design-led, landmark development helping to make Fish Island a magnet for young people, students, entrepreneurs and the businesses that want to reach them.

The presence of Stour Trust and the London School of Fashion will present no end of opportunities for local people and residents.

This is the kind of scheme that suddenly puts an area on the map, creating a wave of inward investment that we’re sure will last for decades.”