Having now visited the exhibition about ‘Save Brick Lane’ at 25, Princelet Street, I have a better sense of the campaign to stop the big new building on the south side of the Truman, Hanbury and Buxton site, which as a whole occupies a big chunk of land on both sides of Brick Lane half way up. The whole 12-acre site was apparently sold by the Truman family in 1989 to Grand Metropolitan who had acquired the brewery in the era of corporate mergers. The site was subsequently acquired at a discount by a family of developers.
Up until now, what they have done has been in character with the area, bringing in big corporate tenants into the big buildings on either side of the street, including date processing and the headquarters of Anthropologie, but, at the same time, developing the Old Dray Walk with cafés and alternative shops, keeping the spirit of the area, which is now packed with people on a Sunday morning. But they are now planning to build a shopping mall on the corner of the site. It looks pretty bland in design, characterless and certain to be occupied by big chains. Rents will rise and the character of the area will be anaesthetised. There seems to be no overarching plan for the site as a whole and how best to maintain and develop its character. Tower Hamlets are – surprise, surprise – doing nothing to conserve the area.
This is Princelet Street:-
This is a conceptual model of the brewery site (the vacant site is on Woodseer Street):-
The brewery in action:-