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The Save Brick Lane Protest

June 14, 2021
by the gentle author

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

Contributing Photographers Sarah Ainslie and David Hoffman were there to document the triumphant protest yesterday organised by Nijjor Manush, East End Preservation Society, Bengali East End Heritage Society, East End Trades Guild and London Renters’ Union to challenge the Truman Brewery’s plan for a shopping mall with four floors of corporate offices on top as the overture to the redevelopment of the entire brewery site.

The local community gathered in Altab Ali Park, before marching up Brick Lane to the Brewery gates where speeches were given by residents, councillors, curry house owners and Dan Cruickshank on behalf of Spitalfields Trust. I publish a transcript of Tasnima Uddin’s rousing speech on behalf of Nijjor Manush.

“Today we show the Truman Brewery and Tower Hamlets Council that we will not stop until this development is rejected.

The choice before us could not be starker, 98.9% of the public consultation oppose the development plan that the council is seeking to push through.

Truman Brewery shame on you!

Today we stand for the 7000 and more people who condemn the Truman Brewery proposal.

We stand for the local residents struggling against chronic indifference from Tower Hamlets Council and creeping displacement by the City of London.

We stand for the people of Tower Hamlets who have made it a hot bed of activism, radical heritage and resistance for generations.

We stand in the proudest traditions of the East End and we stand against all those who seek to condemn those traditions to distant history.

The challenge before is a class issue and therefore necessarily a race issue as well. Tower Hamlets has one of the longest housing waiting lists in the country.

This proposal that the council is gearing up to approve will only push up rents, push out the local community and deepen the housing crisis.

Truman Brewery shame on you!

During the pandemic office blocks became empty, while council housing lists are overflowing.

Tower Hamlets Council where are you?

Tower Hamlets has already been identified as one of the most gentrified boroughs in London in the past decade. If this development goes through, Brick Lane’s Bangladeshi community will find themselves priced out and exiled from the place they call home. 

We need a proper process of local decision making that is shaped by the needs of local communities, not the greed of large companies.

Truman Brewery shame on you!

This protest was planned for the eve of the council decision meeting, but they have delayed it. They will keep delaying it until public interest dies down, but we will be back again with another rally.

We will not let this development go through.

Truman Brewery shame on you!”


(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by David Hoffman)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by David Hoffman)

(Photo by David Hoffman)

(Photo by David Hoffman)

(Photo by David Hoffman)

(Photo by David Hoffman)

(Photo by Sarah Ainslie)

(Photo by David Hoffman)

Photographs copyright © Sarah Ainslie © David Hoffman

You may also like to read about

Trouble at the Truman Brewery

The Battle for Brick Lane

10 Responses leave one →
  1. June 14, 2021

    I really hope that the protests will make the responsible people wake up. You have already lost if you do not fight before!

    Love & Peace

  2. Jill Wilson permalink
    June 14, 2021

    It was great to be involved in such a good natured and yet passionate protest in the BATTLE FOR BRICK LANE.

    There was a brilliant mix of people of all ages, colours and ethnicities, all united in the common grassroots campaign to SAVE BRICK LANE.

    The proposed development is wrong in so many ways – community, heritage, intention, and design – that it must be stopped!! BRICK LANE DESERVES BETTER!

    The various speeches highlighted different aspects of the campaign but they were all united in the common cause to RECLAIM BRICK LANE.

    Over 7000 people can’t be wrong!! PEOPLE BEFORE PROFIT!!!

    Wonderful to see the colourful banners and improvised hats in action. Hopefully they can be used again to support any other grassroots campaign which favours the community rather than the greedy developers to help SAVE THE EAST END!

  3. Peter Hart permalink
    June 14, 2021

    Good luck everybody. Truman Brewery shame on you!

  4. Cherub permalink
    June 14, 2021

    I hope the people win this fight, they deserve better than the blot on the landscape planned on their doorstep. It will ruin the character of this vibrant part of East London for a start.

  5. June 14, 2021

    Congratulations! You are on the right side of history…..with felt banners flying.
    Thanks for shining a light, GA.

  6. Brenda Winter permalink
    June 14, 2021

    I am so impressed with all the support to save Brick Lane – you will win!
    Shame on you Truman Brewery!
    Brenda, Ontario, Canada

  7. Poyntz Pauline permalink
    June 14, 2021

    Just so moved to read this blog today, and to see such colour and enthusiasm.
    I pray for the demise of corporate greed.
    What a rousing speech for a desperate cause . The culture , of the East End must be preserved at all costs . The Bell Foundry, The Mulberry tree , Brick Lane , including the Truman Brewery site, – all are sacrosanct .
    May all the appeals for a more compassionate planning strategy prevail.
    People before profit every time.

  8. AMANDA permalink
    June 15, 2021

    Planning need to catch up with this new era:
    We are working online from home, not in the offices which closed down, many permanently.
    Who will need an expensive office anymore?

    We are shopping online, conveniently getting everything delivered, not in the deserted malls with surplus stock of unwanted goods due to the halt in socialising.

    It is even prohibited to try on garments in shopping malls.

    Tourists are unable come to shop in them.

    The Planning Department will realise as they attempt to prepare a list of good reasons to warrant this development, that malls and office blocks have suddenly become outdated and not viable.

    This unkind and overwhelming proposal is obviously not aimed at benefitting local consumers or businesses or the community the Council serves.

  9. June 17, 2021

    Great demo. Wish I could have been there!

  10. Mitch Herbert permalink
    April 4, 2022

    Why do Council’s up and down the land allow relentless developments?
    They have a legal duty to consider applications, it’s true, but there is also a financial element. They receive large amounts of money from developers in Section 106s. At the moment Councils are strapped for cash so the system – Liberal Economics – does not work. There is money out there, only a very few people have most of it. Fairer taxation, not Business Rates, would help Councils reduce the ‘need’ for these developments. I also understand the need not to alienate investment.
    Apart from changing the whole face and feel of an area developments leave behind a financial legacy that usually means increased rents etc. This prohibits poorer people getting involved. This in turn becomes divisive. We have seen this with residential developments everywhere, where i work in Vyner st it has been a disaster. I worked with artists who had their studios there, but now due to relentless developments they all moved out due to rent increases.
    This country has one of the weakest rent controls in Europe, in fact there are no controls, the property market is allowed to run riot, turning areas into homogenised, dull activities, with no difference or character. This character is what tourists used to come to the East End for. They used to visit Vyner st, they don’t now.
    With the current funding issues by the present government Councils are in dire need of resources to provide needed services. So the pressure is on them to allow developments and gain substantial funds from Section 106.
    The system stinks.

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