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Disused garages transformed into ‘breathtaking’ space for Edmonton entrepreneurs

Angel Yard was officially opened during Open House Festival and offers 35 affordable units for local businesses, reports James Cracknell

Chinelo Anyanwu cuts the ribbon on Angel Yard
Chinelo Anyanwu cuts the ribbon on Angel Yard

A new hub for young entrepreneurs has been officially launched on a housing estate in Angel Edmonton – after being created from the shells of disused garages.

Angel Yard, sited between Joyce Avenue and Snells Park estates, comprises 35 adaptable workspaces designed for businesspeople aged 18-30 who can access training and support to help develop their ideas. Several of the units have been operating since June, with entrepreneurs including an illustrator, wig-maker and aquaponics educator now trading there.

The eye-catching design for Angel Yard, by Jan Kattein Architects, incorporates lattice timber frames supporting a translucent canopy through two connected ‘streets’, while barrel-vaulted roofs adorn each of the former garages now being let as business units.

A launch event on Saturday (16th) took place during a series of Open House Festival events around Angel Edmonton showcasing new street art, a poetry trail, and the recent refurbishment of Fore Street Library.

Chinelo Anyanwu, Enfield Council’s cabinet member for public spaces, culture and local economy, cut the ribbon on Angel Yard after giving an emotional speech about the project. Explaining she could “never imagine” something like this when she was a girl growing up in the area, Cllr Anyanwu said: “What is happening here is close to my heart, because it has been much needed.

“As Enfield Council we invest in places and people so they can thrive and they have more life choices. Although there will be a massive regeneration here, we cannot wait for that, it needs to happen now for everyone in the community, and I am so joyous to see people here and the units fully open.

“The design is absolutely breathtaking.”

Angel Yard cost £1.4million to build and was funded through the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund. Charity Launch It is now managing the space and is supporting each of the entrepreneurs that take up residence, with 50% rental discounts offered for the first two years.

Launch It chief executive Pat Shelly said: “We want to create a legacy of young people who become inspirational for other young people who visit this site.”


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On Saturday the Dispatch spoke to two of the entrepreneurs who have already moved into Angel Yard. Both had previously been running businesses from their homes in Edmonton.

Warren Campbell runs a wig-making company, Meili Hair, which he set up after returning from China where he established links with hair suppliers. The firm offers bespoke wigs and fitting, while there are also now chairs for hair stylists to rent at his unit in Angel Yard.

Warren, who lives on Snells Park Estate, said: “When I came back from China, I had so much stock, but I had nothing to do with it during the [Covid-19] lockdown, so I started making wigs and I became quite competent – I sort of went viral online.

“It got hard because we were using the spare room as a hair salon, but then my niece came to live with us, and we were doing it in the living room or the garden because it became so overcrowded.

“I was gagging for this opportunity [at Angel Yard], I was so grateful to get it.

“I believe this area is now a place to come to, there is a feel-good factor about it.”

Another Edmonton entrepreneur is Jyotsna Shelley, who finished a masters in character animation earlier this year. The former Edmonton County School student had been running her illustrations business Jyots TV from her bedroom – before the opportunity arose at Angel Yard.

Jyotsna Shelley (left) and Warren Campbell (right) both now run their businesses from Angel Yard

“You can’t get this type of space in London,” she said. “There is a great community and help available for your business. For me it is both and office and studio space. I sell stuff here and have meetings with clients.

“It is great to have this in the area. I volunteer at local schools as well and it is so deprived. The young people here are just looking for ways to make money.”

Jyotsna explained that an art studio anywhere else in London would cost £600 per month before bills, but she was able to let her unit at Angel Yard at the introductory rate of £200 including bills, giving her time to establish her business.

Celina Momodu, director of social enterprise Fore Street for All, added: “The concept of having this space has been a yearning for transformation – the idea started during the Olympics and, ten years later, we have been able to change the way this area is seen.”

For more information about Angel Yard and to enquire about hiring space:
Visit
www.launchit.org.uk/angel-yard


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