I haven’t got involved in the current battle to Save Brick Lane because I couldn’t figure out where the proposed development of the Truman Hanbury & Buxton site is going to be and exactly the nature of the damage it will cause. So, I went to look this morning.
It looks like a classic battle between big-time property development and the local community. Brick Lane has been gradually changing in character because of changing property values. Now, whoever owns the Truman Hanbury & Buxton site immediately opposite the historic site of the eighteenth-century brewery plans to develop it. Since it’s currently just a car park, it’s not surprising that it is viewed as a site for development. The question is: will what is built pay any attention to the character of the surrounding neighbourhood ? The answer is surely no, to judge from available illustrations.
The Tower Hamlets Planning Committee meets tomorrow. Can they not request that the developer works with an architect who has some interest and sensitivity to the surrounding neighbourhood ?
It happens that Assemble, the Turner-prize-winning architectural practice are working in the neighbourhood. Could the developers not be required to hold an architectural competition ?
Development always seems to be as big as can be, without regard for character, which is rapidly eating away at Spitalfields, a neighbourhood of extraordinary historical and architectural importance. The ecology is fragile. Tower Hamlets seems spineless. So is Historic England. It is not just depressing, but tragic.
This is the car park:-
This is what is planned for the site:-