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The Good News & The Bad News

April 22, 2021
by the gentle author

The GOOD NEWS is we have only £3,168 left to raise of the £10,000 we need to pay for a top QC and barrister to represent us at the High Court on 5th & 6th May in our fight to save the 500-year-old Bethnal Green Mulberry. We are offering big pots of our homemade Mulberry sorbet or rooted cuttings of Shakespeare’s Mulberry in appreciation to our supporters. Click here to support us

The BAD NEWS is that – despite a record 7,057 individual letters of objection to the application to build an ugly shopping mall with corporate offices on top at the Truman Brewery – Tower Hamlets Planning Department is recommending approval. There is still time to object. Find instructions at

Today I announce a new webinar, next Monday 26th April, focussing on the challenges for the Brick Lane traders in the light of the threat of the Truman Brewery development. Below you can also watch the film of this week’s webinar, Voices from Brick Lane’s Jewish Past.




Monday 26th April 7:00pm

Members of East End Trades Guild and Bangla Restaurants Association discuss their fight for affordable rent on Brick Lane.

Curry restaurants in Brick Lane have decreased by 62% in the past fifteen years and the drop in footfall due to the pandemic is crippling businesses that were already struggling.

The proposed Truman Brewery development would compound this crisis, extracting wealth out of the community by increasing the land value and displacing East End cultural heritage. It will be the end of small independent businesses on Brick Lane.

GULJAR KHAN is chair of Brick Lane Bangla Restaurants Association and has been fighting for fair rents and rates for seven years. He owns four restaurants on Brick Lane including Masala and Gram Bangla.

RHEANNA LINGHAM is a co-founder of Luna & Curious. The shop opened on Brick Lane in 2006 before moving to Calvert Avenue. Rheanna is part of the East End Trades Guild, launching a new EETG Council Tenant’s Group to address the challenge of escalating rents.

The recent Runnymede Trust report highlights shocking levels of economic and racial inequality in which British Bangladeshi households have ten times less wealth than White British households.

In a joint survey conducted by Extended Ventures and Your Startup Your Story on the impact of COVID-19 upon ethnic minority businesses, 48% of respondents stated that they did not access or expect to qualify for any government support scheme.

Click here to register for free for THE CURRY HOUSES OF BRICK LANE





Professor Nadia Valman and Rachel Lichtenstein investigate the Jewish history of Brick Lane.

From the late nineteenth century until the Second World War, Brick Lane and the surrounding streets were home to Britain’s largest Jewish population. Originating from towns and villages in Russian and Eastern Europe, Jews came to London in search of freedom and a better life. Crowded into dilapidated eighteenth-century houses, they built a rich and complex subculture over generations.




Louis Schulz of Assemble introduces Annetta’s House, a new centre for campaigning and resistance against exploitative development.

25 Princelet St in Spitalfields was the home of the architect, cybernetician, conservationist, builder, beekeeper, and campaigner Annetta Pedretti until her death in 2018. An obsessive polymath, her work has been all but forgotten.

8 Responses leave one →
  1. Jill Wilson permalink
    April 22, 2021

    I can’t believe that the Tower Hamlets planning department are recommending approval for the horrendous shopping mall and office development proposed for the Truman Brewery site…

    It is wrong, wrong, WRONG in every way!!

    Not only because of the devastating effect it will have on the existing businesses in Brick Lane, the detrimental effect it will have on the residents of Woodseer Street, and the destruction of the unique local heritage (this has already started with the ripping up of the wonderful old cobbles – substantial harm indeed!)

    But it is also WRONG because it will be totally out of character for the area. Visitors and tourists come to Brick Lane because it is different, unique, gritty and quirky, not to visit yet another bland shopping mall. One only has to look at the empty shops in what used to be the Fruit and Wool Exchange to see that big corporate chains do NOT work in Spitalfields…

    And as for building yet more offices – what a ridiculously misguided idea!

    Please add your objections to the scheme if you haven’t done so already, and help save the character and life of the East End.

  2. Linda Granfield permalink
    April 22, 2021

    Perhaps I’ve missed one of your communications.

    Was a final decision made about the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry?

    So much destruction!

  3. the gentle author permalink*
    April 22, 2021

    THe decision will come in May

  4. Saba permalink
    April 22, 2021

    Even though I do not live in England, I deeply appreciate the efforts of everyone who works to preserve cultural heritage. The videos bring Spitalfields Life to even more vibrant life! Saba

  5. mlaiuppa permalink
    April 22, 2021

    What is it with Tower Hamlets?

    Are they in the pocket of developers?

    How is the composition of Tower Hamlets done? Are they voted in by the community, appointed by elected representatives or what? Because it seems to me they do not represent the community, do not have the communities best interests as their focus and in some cases are downright corrupt, violating laws and ignoring protections.

    I’ll say it again. The root of the problem is those sitting on the Tower Hamlets board who are making these decisions. They need to be replaced, no matter how they got there. Either petition your representatives to replace them with your chosen candidates or run your candidates in an election and get them elected. Once you’ve cleaned the Tower Hamlets house you won’t be fighting as many of these battles.

    BTW what is going on with the bell foundry?

  6. April 22, 2021

    Very sad to hear of the attitude of Tower Hamlet’s Council. They are probably after higher rents to pay for services, including health and social services but the irony is that the rising rents are creating mental stress and contributing to the gutting of cultural communities. To say nothing of blocking out the light with ridiculous tall buildings.

    On the building front, perhaps the preservation society should get Prince Charles on side?

    Quite depressing really.

  7. April 23, 2021

    This isn’t the only horrible development in the area which could be about to go ahead. There’s a massive 56m building about to get approval on the north side of Bethnal Green Rd right behind the Owl and the Pussycat and Redchurch Street conservation zone. The impact on light and heritage in the conservation zone will be horrible. The development is outwith the council policy for tall buildings. Somehow it snuck through to planning meeting during first wave of the pandemic. I hope people start hearing about this and objecting before the decision (I think in May). The heritage of this corner of the east end is being swamped by commercial interests and no consideration of what is being lost and can’t get replaced.

  8. Lizebeth permalink
    April 23, 2021

    Having already written twice to Tower Hamlets (no reply!), I can only assume, like many of your correspondents, that the Council is in the pockets of developers. This is wrong in every way — ruining your local area with huge buildings that are a glut on the market now, should not be tolerated. Unfortunately there is no way to recall these representatives before they presumably will pass this new development proposal. Get ready for yet another hideous bloc of mostly empty office space, and the same chain shops as everywhere else.

    Very sad…

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