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Cromwell’s George Tavern defeats Swan in battle over noise

PUBLISHED: 10:20 03 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:24 05 October 2010

A STAR-studded campaign to preserve the future of an historic East End pub scored a victory last night when councillors turned down an application to build a block of flats next door. Campaigners including pop stars, actors and MPs won the fight to save The George Tavern in Stepney. Tower Hamlets councillors voted five-to-one to reject an application by Swan housing to demolish disused Stepney’s nightclub next to the pub

Ted Jeory

A STAR-studded campaign to preserve the future of an historic pub in London’s East End dating back to Cromwell’s time scored a famous victory last night (Wednesday) night when councillors turned down a planning application to build a block of flats next door.

Campaigners including Kate Moss, Amy Winehouse, Sir Ian McKellen and MP George Galloway won their fight to save The George tavern in Stepney.

Tower Hamlets councillors voted five-to-one to reject an application by Swan housing association to demolish the disused Stepney’s nightclub which adjoins The George to build a five-storey block of flats.

Pub landlady and artist Pauline Forster claimed the block would ruin the nature of her home and livelihood’—a haven for creative types and music lovers across London.

She also uses the airy and light floors above her pub as a photoshoot for top fashion models.

Legend has it that the listed tavern in the Commercial Road was a staging post of Oliver Cromwell in the 17th century.

Pauline mobilised a high profile publicity campaign involving celebrities at her pub wearing Save The George T-shirts.

Kate Moss was among the first to sign up last year during a fashion shoot there.

Swan told a Wednesday’s Tower Hamlets planning committee that they had been “disappointed” the campaign had been launched while they were trying to negotiate.

Their planning consultant Simon Dunn-Lwin said: “We thought we had an agreement with Ms Forster about the development.

“So it was a disappointment when the media campaign started.”

But council planning chief Mike Kiely denied suggestions the publicity had influenced his recommendation to reject the application.

“It doesn’t matter if we receive one objection or thousands,” he said.

“The matter is considered not on the weight of the objection, but on the nature of it.”

Councillors agreed the pub’s daylight would be ruined by the proposed flats.

They also accepted claims that there would be too much noise for new residents if the development went ahead, breaching planning law.

Pauline Forster was proud and delighted’ her campaign had succeeded, she said after the Town Hall meeting, and accepted the publicity had helped.

“At the end of the day, it’s all about public opinion and democracy,” she told the East London Advertiser.

“We managed to show people that our arguments were right.”

But she now has to prepare for the next stage, trying to buy the nightclub from Swan and run it as a community centre.

Swan are thought to be preparing a revised planning application, but declined to comment last night.

Some of Pauline’s neighbours on the nearby Exmouth housing estate were furious.

One, Ann Ahern, said: “She ran a vicious media campaign.”

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