I admire the writing of Brice Stratford in The Critic (see below). He manages to be both immensely well informed about local politics and absolutely brutal in describing how it operates – the lack of any care for the communities represented, its arbitrariness, and the long-term consequences of the developments they facilitate. The Council may feel that allowing a shopping mall is a one-off development and will bring jobs to the area, but it is part of a pattern of new development which risks changing the character of Spitalfields forever, losing its individuality and making it much blander. Of course, people say that the area has always been subject to change – the arrival of new communities, and has been being gentrified since the 1980s at least. This is true. But it is surely worth trying to retain the historic character of Spitalfields, especially small businesses, rather than just turning it into a tourist mall.
2 thoughts on “Saving Spitalfields (3)”
I entirely agree. I began exploring Spitalfields in the late 1960s as a teenager after reading several books by the artist/topographer Geoffrey Fletcher. When I discovered Fournier Street and Flower and Dean Street I coveted one of the early Georgian houses there when they were dirt cheap. Thank goodness these are now protected, but Brick Lane, though lacking Georgian facades, has a character of its own and has managed to remain a proper working street for the most part. So I ask, where exactly is this proposed shopping mall to be built ?
Dear Rob, It’s at the south end of the Truman’s Brewery site, currently a car park. The anxieties are about it being full of chain stores in an area which is so much about independent stores which won’t be able to afford the rent – and the loss of the Indian restaurants and local Bangladeshi community. Charles