In a small part of East London, nestled between Tower Hamlets, Newham and Hackney, a community group is working hard to fight the tide of negative development and ensure inclusive growth: The Hackney Wick and Fish Island Community Development Trust (CDT).

Formed in 2017 by residents and organisations of the area, determined to ensure inclusive growth, including coming up with innovative solutions to increasing economic inequality, the displacement of local people and businesses due to sky-high rents and ensuring the property development incorporates with the heritage and culture of the local area included.

For context, the CDT operates within the Olympic Park area, in and around a heavily deprived part of London which had lacked the investment needed for far too long. It is that area I’m proud to have grown up in and call home. Through the well overdue, the investment of the 2012 Olympics saw nine billion pounds invested in developing the site for the games and has since seen many billions more over the past decade.

The aim of the CDT is clear; securing ownership of buildings and spaces in Hackney Wick and Fish Island (HWFI) or the benefit of the community, with a dual focus of affordable housing and affordable workspaces in the local area.

The CDT is committed to working with the community, landlords, public authorities and developers to ensure that the identity and social fabric of the Hackney Wick and Fish Island community is retained, enterprise is supported, and change benefits all local people.

At the heart of this model sits Co-operative values. The fundamental principles of sharing power and wealth are embedded throughout the CDT. From housing and transport through to culture, economy and community wealth building.

One exciting example includes securing funding and delivering a reimagined local high street in Hackney Wick. Funded by the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority, the CDT is leading the way in coming up with solutions for the future of our high street, specifically focusing on coordinating a grassroots response to climate change by creating a circular economy strategy for the area, and Co-Op values run throughout it. While the CDT is leading the work, it is only successful because many local businesses, circular economy organisations and local community groups are collaborating and sharing skills and insight to develop and implement the strategy. We expect a Co-operative style governance model to emerge from the work on this strategy. The values of the project are genuinely co-operative – from co-operative local political leadership, engaging anchor institutions, right through to local investment and genuine engagement with all parts of the community.

As local residents and NED of the CDT, I’m truly proud we are delivering a green, clean and equitable approach that will contribute to the delivery of inclusive economic growth for all.

The Olympic legacy is evident to many; we should all be thrilled the former east London site hasn’t turned into a white elephant, which many understandably feared, myself included. Instead, it’s ignited a new cultural and entrepreneurial quarter – full of new, exciting and diverse opportunities. That said, we must continually safeguard against local communities being left behind. Not just a one off exercise, but ongoing engagement and re-engagement to ensure it really does deliver benefits for local people now and into the future – that is the proud role the HFWI CDT is playing.

The HWFI CDT is one of many examples of co-operative policies being implemented locally. Progressive ideas seen through by local people. While the national government, under the reckless Tories, lurches from one disaster to another, local projects like the CDT under progressive leadership deliver truly bold and progressive projects. Anchor organisations and local community assets like the CDT need to be nurtured and supported to enable them to deliver impact at scale and on an ongoing basis. We are currently seeking further support for the delivery of the circular economy strategy and I encourage anyone interested in this agenda to get in touch with us.

I know we can all be proud that many local organisations like the CDT are implementing co-op policies – long may it continue.