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London has plans to create affordable housing for artists

The city’s Mayor and Head of Culture revealed further plans to create ‘artist zones’ to combat high rents

London’s known for its resilient, multi-faceted creative scenes, but that’s all been under serious threat. We’re closing our cultural spaces, wages are at their lowest in years and renting hikes are pushing artists out of the capital. However, a new plan set out by the London mayor and the mayoral team hopes to create “Creative Enterprise Zones” to combat this.

Recently appointed Deputy Mayor for Culture Justine Simons explained the initial plans to the Evening Standard, detailing that the ‘zones’ would be set up in parts of London where a lot of artists already work, like Hackney Wick and Peckham. During his campaign for mayor, Sadiq Khan asserted that subsidized working spaces for people within the creative industries, like arts and fashion, would be created.

Simons suggested that assistance could also be given to artists who want to buy their own studios, something that could help a demographic that sometimes deal with various income routes and irregular payment.

As reported by Mental Floss, another option could be buying up studio space to keep residential developers from taking over the area.

Simons said: “The property market moves so quickly that by the time people have put grants together and applied for sponsorship the property is off the market, so it’s the kind of intervention that is about accessing finance to allow creative people to put down roots and buy infrastructure and create ownership.

“At the moment artists and creative people are like the advance party — they find the stranger, weird places that no one sees much value in, they bring them to life, the area becomes valuable and then they are priced out of the market.

“What we want to create is an area where creative people can put down roots and that would be a creative enterprise zone. That’s working with local authorities, developers with the creative community and residents. It’s putting a spotlight and a ring around an area.”

Simons observed that 30 per cent of artist spaces in the next five years could be lost. Last year, two-thirds of artists based in the UK earned £10,000, while the average London property price sits at around £600,000.

Dazed has reached out to Sadiq Khan's office for comment.