Local councilors defied months of campaigning, protests and thousands of appeal letters to approve plans for an office block and shopping complex on Brick Lane. London Region at the heart of England’s Bangladeshi diaspora.
Under the plan approved Tuesday night, the historic Old Truman Brewery buildings, which now house hundreds of small businesses, will be the foundation for a new “office-led mixed-use development” that includes retail and restaurants.
Critics of the plan say it will place a “multi-story mall” in the heart of the UK’s Bangladeshi community. “Local businesses and people will be fired because of rising rents,” said Apsana Begum, Labor MP from the neighboring Poplar and Limehouse constituency.
But backers insist the developers have assured Tower Hamlets council that small businesses won’t be priced out. They say any increased foot traffic it brings to the area will benefit neighboring independent businesses.
Since the cessation of brewing 25 years ago, the Old Truman Brewery has grown into a creative and cultural hub used mostly by 300 businesses, including 205 micro-businesses. It is managed by the Zeloof Partnership, which receives low rents that allow small traders to gain a foothold while reflecting the core character of the site.
according to planning documentOf the 103 retail businesses in the brewery, 102 and all 16 food and beverage businesses are independent. The site also includes 20 event spaces, five workshops and 225 market stall sites and is home to 160 workspace businesses predominantly in the creative industry.
But now Zeloof wants to raze part of the site and restructure and expand others, build a five-story office block and dig a two-story basement. Zeloof said it will continue to keep rents low, but is committed to discounting only 10% of its business units and reserving three retail spaces for independents without discounts.
Heloise Palin of the Spitalfields Trust said the plan is the latest in a series of redevelopments that have given people in the area a sense that “the City is moving east”.
The foundation pointed out that the market rate for proposed Class A office space is £70 per square foot – beyond the possibilities of most small businesses and more than double the market rate for “used business space”. is changing.
“There is a resonance here with ‘affordable’ housing, as opposed to social housing where the reduction in market price is not enough to make the ‘affordable’ units truly affordable for locals,” he said. council.
Nijjor Manush, a Bengali and Bangladeshi campaign group, collected hundreds of signatures from local residents and traders and helped organize more than 7,300 appeal letters, according to co-founder Dr Fatima Rajina. There were 82 letters supporting the plan.
However, on Tuesday, councilors accepted the motion by two votes to one. “This shows that residents are not really interested in what they have to say,” said Rajina.
Kevin Brady, a Labor Assembly member who approved the application, said his role was limited to deciding whether it complies with council planning policy. “It was clear that this was happening, and so there’s no reason to deny it,” Brady said. said in a statement Posted on Twitter.
“I appreciate a lot of people’s opposition, but that’s not in itself a financial planning consideration,” he said before closing comments on the post.