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The Battle For Brick Lane

December 11, 2020
by the gentle author

Brick Lane 1978 by Dan Jones

Since September, I have been working behind the scenes to curate an exhibition for the Spitalfields Trust about the culture and history of Brick Lane and the Truman Brewery. It opens tomorrow at 25 Princelet St, E1 6QH, a breathtaking unrestored eighteenth century house and you are all invited to visit under socially-distanced conditions. Dan Cruickshank will cut a ribbon at noon. For those unable to make the journey, some of the contents can be viewed at

Exhibition opens noon – 6pm on Saturday 12th, Sunday 13th, Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th, Friday 18th, Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th December.

It includes a show of Phil Maxwell’s photographs of Brick Lane over the past thirty years, a specially-commissioned model of the Truman Brewery by Sebastian Harding and a diorama of Brick Lane from the Bishopsgate Institute collection.

This opening launches a campaign by the Spitalfields Trust to stop a proposal to build an ugly shopping mall with four floors of corporate offices on top at the Old Truman Brewery. Instead of this arbitrary scheme, the Trust seeks to raise a wide debate to create a plan for the whole brewery site.

Phil Maxwell has photographed Brick Lane for over thirty years

Part of Sebastian Harding’s model

Diorama of Brick Lane from Bishopsgate Institute collection

The ugly big block proposed for the corner of Brick Lane & Woodseer St


* This development will undermine the authentic cultural quality of Brick Lane.

* The generic architecture is too tall and too bulky, ruining the Brick Lane & Fournier St Conservation Area.

* It offers nothing to local residents whose needs are for genuinely affordable homes and workspaces.

* It is an approach that is irrelevant to a post-Covid world, with more people working from home and shopping locally or online.

* Where it meets the terraces of nineteenth century housing, the development is out of scale and causes up to 60% loss of light.

* Instead of this arbitrary scheme, we need a plan for the entire brewery site that reflects the needs and wishes of residents.


You can help us stop this bad proposal by writing a letter of objection to the council as soon as possible.

Please write in your own words and head it OBJECTION.

Quote Planning Application PA/20/00415/A1

Anyone can object wherever they live.

Members of one household can each write separately.

You must include your postal address.

Send your objection by email to

Or by post to Planning Department, Town Hall, Mulberry Place, 5 Clove Crescent, London, E14 2BG

14 Responses leave one →
  1. Ron Wilkinson permalink
    December 11, 2020

    Good luck! Fight the good fight for human scale and historic neighborhoods! From San Diego, CA.

  2. December 11, 2020

    The Battle for Brick Lane.
    Objection Submitted.
    Long live the Spitalfields Trust.

  3. Linda Granfield permalink
    December 11, 2020

    Another battle against the Building Blight.

    Will a final decision about the Whitechapel Bell Foundry be made in the new year?

    Thanks for your leadership, GA! And enjoy that gallery opening.

  4. Adele Lester permalink
    December 11, 2020

    We need more groups like The Spitalfields Trust to preserve our architectural heritage. Thank you GA for posting.

  5. Rachel Jowitt permalink
    December 11, 2020

    Objection left. This is a disgraceful proposal from Tower Hamlets who seem hell bent on ruining every creative and quirky space in this borough. Grrr

  6. December 11, 2020

    The local Bengali community proposed a viable plan for the Truman’s Brewery years ago but this was rejected because local council couldn’t see how the Bengali community we’re adding to the cultural capital in terms of the local economy and the community. It’s not surprising that there is an option for corporate take over the site on the table again.

    The same happened during the campaign to save the old spitalfields market.

    I wish you luck with #SaveBrickLane.

  7. Chris Ashby permalink
    December 12, 2020

    A strong objection sent.
    Thanks for telling us about it.
    All the best,
    Chris Ashby.

  8. Ros permalink
    December 12, 2020

    I’m afraid the situation is going to get worse and worse as local authorities appear to have no option but to invest, sell, make a profit, do anything to keep their statutory services going, as no, or not nearly enough, public money is going in to fund them. And with Brexit and Covid, many of the things they’ve invested in have lost a lot of money. It’s a tragedy for our heritage and doubtful whether these quickbuild characterless new monstrosities will meet people’s needs in any way in the years to come.

  9. Jill wilson permalink
    December 12, 2020

    This is a brilliant idea to draw attention to the threat to Brick Lane and I hope it will do a lot to increase awareness of how intrusive and ugly the proposed buildings would be. Not to mention how inappropriate the whole shopping mall/offices concept seems now!

    And as a fellow model maker I’m looking forward to seeing Sebastian’s handiwork.

    It is also wonderful that 25 Princelet Street is already being used as part of a grassroots campaign to save the East End. I’m sure it is exactly what Annetta would have wanted.

    See you there! x

  10. December 12, 2020

    Strong objection sent

  11. Philippa Bogle permalink
    December 17, 2020

    I have sent a letter of objection. I would also like to write an article about the wider development in the city in an effort to make people more aware of this issue. I returned from New York a couple of years ago and was very shocked by how many new high rises there are and how many listed buildings are being pulled down. From Primrose Hill at night it is 360 degree red crane lights. I don’t really understand how this has been allowed to happen as I thought we had a good preservation system in place. I also find it hard to find any Londoners who have actually noticed the changes or care – perhaps the frog in the pot of boiling water syndrome. Anyway thanks for the work you do to educate and draw attention to preservation issues.

  12. Muna permalink
    December 17, 2020

    My family and I have sent emails to object to the gentrification of Brick Lane – nijjormanush did a good job of raising awareness on social media otherwise many of us would have been unaware especially those of us who live on the other side of the capital.

  13. Dominic Pannell permalink
    December 19, 2020

    Brick Lane is an epic part of London. Its history should be preserved, as should the businesses that are based there.

  14. April 6, 2021

    I have been visiting London since 1974 and the East End is my favourite area! ‘Just love it there especially Brick Lane, the shops and markets. I hope that this horrible project never sees the light of day and that Brick Lane can proudly keep it’s beautiful heritage.
    Brenda Winter, Canada

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