Saturday, 20 March 2010

Brick Lane Cultural Trail: The signs are up

Tell us what you want?

Tower Hamlets council is asking for community feedback (via The Spitalfields Society) on how the £1.85m originally allocated for the Brick Lane arches might be better spent. Below are some suggestions that have been made. If you would like to add to the suggestions, please email us, or leave a message at that the bottom of this post.

- removal of the industrial waste bins from Brick Lane so we don't have to walk through/breathe in last night's curry as it leaks on to the pavement;

- repair/correction of the pavement so we don't sprain our ankles while walking down Brick Lane or have to walk on building pallets when it rains and floods and turns into a sewer;

- a town centre police team operating out of Brick Lane police station to deal with adverse consequences of the thriving night-time economy on Brick Lane, which is going to thrive all the more once an additional 10,000 visitors come to the area each weekend with the opening of Shoreditch High Street station (official estimate no less but no additional police resources to deal with it);

- toilets for the patrons of the night-time economy to befoul instead of our conservation areas and listed buildings;

- enforcement officers to regulate/monitor the market traders/purveyors of stolen goods on Brick Lane/Sclater Street and surrounding areas;

- some signage informing visitors how to get to Brick Lane from Columbia Road Flower Market/Spitalfields Market/Petticoat Lane (rather than having to tell them to look for the unsightly silver arches);

- perhaps the £750,000 that was meant to be spent on improving Allen Gardens, a most forlorn park, can now actually be spent on improving Allen Gardens.

You Decide!

At the meeting on the 6 March 2010, £415,000 was allocated to various projects in LAP1 (which includes Weavers Ward in which the Shoreditch part of Tower Hamlets is located). Local residents at the meeting decided the allocation by a surprisingly fair and democratic process in contrast to last year's meeting, which was widely criticised for the way in which decisions were made. 

Residents chose from a list of items in 6 different categories (public realm, education, youth, elderly, crime, health). The top 2 were then subject to a run-off vote.

Once projects from each of the categories had been selected, the remaining money was allocated on a free vote basis with a run off again between the top 2 choices.

The following projects received funding:

- community shrub and tree planting (£20,000);

- park improvement project (£50,000);

- better street lighting (£15,000);

- out-of-school study support (£30,000);

- early GSCE language tuition (£35,000);

- youth inclusion and support panel (£35,000);

- youth inclusion programme (£50,000);

- engaging young people in community events (£7,000);

- graduate placement programme (£11,000);

- disability and special needs employment project (£5,000);

- swimming lessons (£7,000);

- jobs fairs (£5,000);

- support for carers of the elderly (£10,000);

- older persons' handyperson (£10,000);

- targeted policing operations (£35,000);

- enhanced council enforcement operations (£35,000);

- healthy diet for children and youth programme (£55,000).

A project that would have been useful for all Shoreditch residents and businesses was enforcement activities in weekend markets (£30,000). Sadly this project received inadequate support among those in attendance at the meeting.

For more information on the You Decide! process, see

Rebuild or Refurbish? by Amanda Reynolds

The ‘debate,’ which took place at the Bishopsgate Institute on the 9 March, was in fact a presentation of views by four professionals, who work in the architecture and heritage sectors. While purporting to look at the potential impact of the City on inner east London, none of the speakers specifically addressed the issues we face in terms of the impact of future development.

Will Palin (of Save Britain’s Heritage) presented an entertaining and critical look at existing redevelopment such as that at at the site of the Spitalfields market, and what has now been permitted – the proposed Bishops Place towers around the retained ‘Light Bar’ building at 233 Shoreditch High Street. Giles Quarme (of Quarme Associates) talked about buildings he has refurbished nowhere near inner east London; while Paul Finch (of CABE) and Austin Williams (of Future Cities) made the case for varying degrees of redevelopment alongside more robust approaches to conservation.

Bishopsgate Goodsyard1,2 was mentioned only in passing. Although questions after the presentations put our major local development challenge firmly on the agenda, no specific or useful suggestions were made in relation to the site. Perhaps unsurprising given the title of the debate: as ‘rebuild’ is the only option, the important question for us is, How to rebuild?
A prominent local architect asked the panel whether better use could be made of planning regulations to control development and Paul Finch said no. However, this is clearly not the case, as the recently adopted Interim Planning Guidance for the site has no specific building envelope controls such as height, typology or location, all of which are much needed.

OPEN Shoreditch seeks much clearer development guidance. This would most effectively be expressed through a Master Plan for the site and surroundings, developed with the active participation of all stakeholders including the local community. OPEN Shoreditch is currently lobbying both Tower Hamlets and Hackney councils, and the developers, to set up and support this process, and then to adopt the result into the planning system.

2Tower Hamlets press release (12 Jan 2010) on the plans for Bishopsgate Goodsyard

Picture Credit: John Winfield, Spitalfields before redevelopment

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Brick Lane Arches: Council rethinks!


Residents in the Brick Lane area welcome the news that Tower Hamlets Council has withdrawn its plans to build two stainless steel arches on Brick Lane as part of a £1.85 million 'Cultural Trail'. 

Tower Hamlets Council chief executive Kevan Collins yesterday promised that the Council was now open to new suggestions as to how to spend this portion of 'planning gain' money arising from the redevelopment of Spitalfields Market competed 2005.   

Residents' associations the Spitalfields Society and North Brick Lane Residents' Association in a joint statement said:

"We are pleased that the Council has responded to the public's concerns about this scheme. It is the duty of the Council to use this public money for social and economic benefits to the community, not to impose their own plans, which in this case have been socially divisive.

We look forward to proposing new use of the money to improve Brick Lane for its businesses, visitors and local communities, putting decision-making back into the hands of all those who live and work here." 

Notes to editors:

There were 158 individual objections and 0 supporters to the Arches scheme according to the council’s planning officer’s report.

The Cultural Trail is part of the spending of £8.5 million generated by the Spitalfields Market redevelopment ‘Bishops Square’. This major financial contribution must be spent in accordance with a ‘Section 106’ legal agreement which states that it must go towards: “the promotion of projects for the economic and social benefit of the local community. Such projects may include training and employment initiatives and community improvement schemes to ensure that the community does not suffer loss as a result of the implementation of the Bishops Square Planning Permission and environmental improvement in the immediate locality of the Site.

  •  Use these links to find out what others said about the withdrawal of the Brick Lane arches planning application:

Tower Hamlets Council statement: Thursday 4 March

Evening Standard: Friday 5 March

East London Advertiser website: Friday 5 March