Published: March 30, 2023
Unity Trust Bank-backed business development officially opens in East London
A five-year, multi-million pound development to drive new business and job opportunities in Hackney has finally opened its doors, thanks to funding from Unity Trust Bank.
The refurbishment of Bradbury Works in Gillett Square, Dalston was the brainchild of Hackney Co-Operative Developments CIC (HCD), and provides over 1,000 sqm of affordable office space to social enterprises and start-ups.
A £2.8m loan from Unity, which part-funded the project, has enabled HCD to safeguard 265 jobs and create 69 new ones.
At the official opening on March 17, Anthonia Onigbode, Chief Operating and Finance Officer at HCD, said: “It’s an honour to celebrate the opening of Bradbury Works after five years filled with challenges brought about by Brexit, the pandemic, lockdowns and project slippages. The project is a symbol of our determination and resilience.
“The pandemic has changed the way we work and interact with each other, making a comfortable and safe work environment more important than ever. This new space has been designed with the health and safety of our stakeholders in mind, and we are confident that it will help them feel comfortable and productive.
“Our heartfelt thanks to our funders for their support and for making this repurpose building a reality.”
Rod Campbell-Taylor is the Chair of HCD. He said: “This building would never have got off the ground without the unwavering support of our funders – our main funder Unity Trust Bank, Trust For London, Hackney Council and, where it all started, the Greater London Authority. We very much appreciate their commitment and staying with us through some difficult moments along the way.
“We should see this building as a community asset, part of the common good. Our company is not in the business of squeezing tenants to increase company profits. As a CIC, every penny of any surplus that we generate from this project will go to other projects.”
The Bradbury Works building has an improved carbon footprint through double glazed windows and new thermal insulation. It offers 30 workspaces and studios and 10 upgraded retail spaces.
The official opening was carried out by Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, who said providing affordable workspace for local people was a key priority for the council.
Andy Ledger is a Relationship Manager at Unity Trust Bank. Andy said: “I’ve worked closely with Anthonia and the team throughout this development. It’s testament to their hard work and commitment that it is finally ‘open for business’.
“At Unity, we only lend to organisations that create a positive difference to local communities. With Dalston being in the 10 per cent most deprived wards in the UK, this redevelopment will breathe new life into the area and create business and employment opportunities.”
HCD owns seven properties in East London. It 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. The company plays a key role in co-ordinating community events in Gillett Square, including outdoor play equipment.
Gillett Square itself is a public open space with jazz bars and food outlets. It is a popular meeting place for a diverse range of people.
HCD’s primary function is to provide affordable workspaces. Income that is generated is then reinvested back into the community through business support, training and initiatives.
Anthonia added: “Unity is an ethical bank so perfectly fits our remit. Our relationship manager Andy Ledger understood what we were trying to achieve. I really liked his personal touch and his fast response times. I’ve recommended Unity to lots of other organisations.”
For more information about how Unity Trust Bank can support your business, visit: www.unity.co.uk