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Hatton Garden jewellery trade ‘under threat’

Warning over natural light as councillors give the go-ahead for two five-storey blocks to be built in gem district

29 June, 2018 — By Richard Osley

Hatton Garden. Photo: Wikipedia

ONE of the longest serving jewellers in Hatton Garden has warned council chiefs that London’s famous gem district is under threat.

David Hallperin said: “The trade has been in Hatton Garden for 400 years and it will be finished in the next 20 or 30 years at the rate its going.

“I don’t understand why Camden Council said it’s a conservation area when they are destroying it more rapidly than anybody.”

His colourful intervention came as he appeared at a planning meeting earlier this month at which councillors approved a major overhaul of properties in neighbouring Greville Street.

He added: “There are virtually no apprenticeships left and nobody is coming to the jewellery trade at all. I was an apprentice in the early 1950s and have worked all my life in Hatton Garden.”

Two new five-storey blocks are set to be built in Greville Street, both with four floors of new offices. Jewellers will operate from basement workshops and use a retail premises on the ground floor.

Mr Hallperin and others in the area have warned that jewellers need natural light rather than working in a basement, and said the size of the block would lead to existing jewellery businesses being overlooked.

“When they build this wall it’s very important the back wall, that you don’t put windows in it because it will face all the safes,” he added.

“There will be armed robberies. Not only are you going to permit windows, you are putting a balcony there. I suppose they can watch the robbers have tea and coffee and cake while they are doing the safes.”

Applicants Workspace say there will still be 357 square metres of jewellery workshops and they will offer the space at 20 per cent below market rate – part of the planning deal and an attempt to protect the area’s diamond reputation.

But Mr Hallperin, speaking on behalf of a row of freeholders in Hatton Garden, said: “This yarn about being 20 per cent below market prices. We have tenants who pay maybe £100 a week. There’s nowhere that you’ll get £100 a week rent anywhere. I’d like to see developers offer them this. The first time the rent review comes available prices will be vastly increased.”

Camden’s planners ruled the new development did not break any sunlight rules. Bryony Gregearda, development manager for Workspace, said jewellers were not being driven out.

“We also own a building around the corner which we recently redeveloped and has dedicated jewellery workshops, so we do have some experience of providing this type of space,” she said.

This included jewellers working using artificial light in basement work- shops. Ms Gregearda added: “The key point is that we are providing 357 square metres of jewellery workspace.”

The project was approved with six councillors voting in favour and one abstention.

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