Guardian Cities: how Hackney council let developers demolish the startups of "Silicon Roundabout"

I've written a guest editorial for the new Guardian Cities site about the way that the offices that house the startups of London's famed "Silicon Roundabout" are being systematically demolished by developers who are put up cheap, high-rise private student housing to take advantage of a foreign-student bubble.

(Note: this went up briefly last week by accident and came down again, apologies if you see this twice)

Within months of the unveiling of Silicon Way, Hackney council approved the demolition of all of the small office spaces in its vicinity: a two-square-block razing that saw Berg, and all those other plucky startups chucked out on their ears. Berg's new offices – a tumbledown building slated for demolition at the end of 2014 – are strictly temporary, and they say they're fearful they'll be priced out of Shoreditch for their next move. has already left the neighbourhood altogether.

The social media startup in the pub is also long gone – the freeholder, Truman Brewery, got fed up with not selling any beer there, and invoked the lease clause that requires the space to be tenanted by someone who'll sell their products. But almost immediately, they sold out to a property developer who boarded up the windows and moved in "live-in guardians".

Live-in guardians and builders are the two growth industries in Silicon Roundabout these days. Hackney council's planning department is quick to hand out permission to large developers with ambitious high-rise plans, and rumours circulate among planning consultants and architects about the supposed revolving door between jobs in planning and developers' offices.

How startups of Silicon Roundabout are gradually being flattened