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Shopping mall planned for Brick Lane

Plans to build a five-storey complex with a shopping centre and corporate office space in Brick Lane have been given the green light, despite fierce opposition from local residents and businesses.

At a Tower Hamlets Development Committee meeting held on 14 September, councillors passed the planning application by two votes to one. Up until 2 September, 82 letters of support for the plans had been submitted, versus 7,476 letters of objection. The plans would involve converting the existing Old Truman Brewery site, which at present houses many small businesses, into a mixed-used site featuring office space, retail and restaurants.

Those objecting to the scheme said the plans would result in a shopping mall-type structure. They say this would be detrimental to the local Bangladeshi community, having a negative impact on the area’s identity, and would result in smaller businesses being forced out of the area, due to rising rents.

Saif Osmani, co-founder of Bengali East End Heritage Society, which forms part of the Save Brick Lane Coalition said: “The decision to ‘rubber stamp’ gentrification leads to social cleansing. Inevitably the embedded local communities like the British-Bangladeshi community would be most affected. The Coalition spent months collecting signatures from the homes and estates around Brick Lane, meeting young families in their 20s and 30s who were bringing their own families up but had seen no improvements to their local area. Where are these opportunities that planning and development promises?”

The Bengali East End Heritage Society has taken legal advice and is looking at the options available to challenge the Development Committee’s decision.

“We would like the future plans for the Truman Brewery site to include a mixture of truly affordable homes for local people and families,” added Osmani. “Successive previous master plans have said that this is possible and remains an important social need.”


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