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High Court gives permission for judicial review over impact of development on diversity and character of Brick Lane area

Campaigners have secured permission for a judicial review challenge over Tower Hamlets Council's grant of planning permission for a new office building on Brick Lane.

The group, named Save Brick Lane, said the plan jeopardises the street's diversity and character and claimed the council did not properly consider the letters of objection which were submitted.

The development at 140 Brick Lane was granted permission in November of last year and will see the construction of a five-storey office with accompanying commercial units, alongside a two-storey expansion of an adjoining building.

On its CrowdJustice page, Save Brick Lane said: "[If] this scheme goes ahead Brick Lane as a place of diversity and character and a home for the Bangladeshi community will disappear.

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"This area is one that is rich in history and its physical character should be protected by the planning system against large, insensitive development.”

According to the group, the planning application received 7,487 letters of objection, a letter of opposition signed by 140 Brick Lane traders and a letter of objection signed by 556 local residents.

"Despite this overwhelming public rejection of the scheme, two councillors approved the application at a planning committee of only three people," it said.

On its CrowdJustice Page, Save Brick Lane said the proposals:

  • "offer nothing to local residents whose needs are for homes and affordable work spaces;
  • are far too tall and bulky and will ruin the Brick Lane and Fournier Street Conservation Area;
  • will undermine the authentic cultural quality of Brick Lane;
  • are for vast new offices, not needed in this post-Covid world;
  • cause 60% loss of light to residents opposite on Woodseer Street.”

The group added: “Instead of this arbitrary scheme we need a plan for the entire brewery site that reflects the needs of the community."

A council committee report published in September 2021 recommended that permission be granted as long as the development included increased provision and duration of affordable workspace, prioritisation of local businesses, and a "selection of occupiers that reinforce the unique character of the area".

Just over £10,000 has been donated to the group via CrowdJustice. According to an update posted by the group, a further £20,000 is needed to fund the judicial review hearing.

A Tower Hamlets Council spokesperson said: “The scheme approved by the Development Committee would provide affordable workspace at 45% market discount, as set out in the draft Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan. There wouldn’t be a new large open plan office space, or loss of existing shops, restaurants or other businesses.

“The building is proposed on the site of what is currently an open car park and it will also be lower in height than the neighbouring buildings on the Truman’s brewery. It is also estimated that the scheme on completion will provide over 700 jobs.

“We await the outcome of the judicial review.”

Adam Carey

Sponsored Editorial

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