Conservationists have failed in their attempt to prevent offices and shops being built on a car park in a corner of the Old Truman Brewery complex on Brick Lane in Tower Hamlets.
The plans became a cause celebre for activists opposed to development in the area, who have variously claimed they will damage its historic character and force out Bengali Londoners through “gentrification”.
Permission for the scheme was granted by Tower Hamlets Council in September 2021 following lengthy negotiations with the site’s owners about the detail of the project, including the provision of affordable workspace for small businesses.
An application for a judicial review of the decision was made by the Spitalfields Historic Building Trust (SHBT) earlier this year, but a High Court planning judge has rejected it on all three grounds submitted.
The 64-page judgement, dated 31 August 2022, found that the council did not break its own rules over which councillors could vote at the key meeting, following the deferral of the decision at an earlier one.
The judgement also turned down claims that members of the public were wrongly prevented from speaking at the meeting, and that the council had wrongly failed to take into account the policies of the emerging Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan. It is not yet known if the SHBT will seek to appeal against the judgement.
Tower Hamlets approved the scheme before the change of borough Mayor and council control that took took place at May’s borough elections. When campaigning, the new Mayor, Lutfur Rahman, responded to media coverage of the former brewery plans by pledging to “protect important cultural sites in our borough from predatory developers”.
However, the developers in this case have had ownership connections with the site since brewing ceased there around 30 years ago and have made no major structural changes to it, instead letting its various buildings, which stand on both sides of Brick Lane, to a variety of businesses including a nightclub, vintage fashion emporia, and art gallery, cafés, the European headquarters of Urban Outfitters and other firms needing office space.
In-depth coverage of the Old Truman Brewery story will be provided by On London soon.
On London strives to provide more of the kind of journalism the capital city needs. Become a supporter for just £5 a month. You will even get things for your money. Details here.