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Die is cast as neighbourhood plan to protect Spitalfields’ heritage goes out to the people

PUBLISHED: 00:02 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:49 06 August 2020

Historic Spitalfields struggles to preserve its heritage, cheek-by-jowl with the City skyscrapers. Picture: Jeremy Freedman

Historic Spitalfields struggles to preserve its heritage, cheek-by-jowl with the City skyscrapers. Picture: Jeremy Freedman

Jeremy Freedman

Thousands of leaflets have been posted through letterboxes across Spitalfields by volunteers asking for public help on a neighbourhood plan being put to a referendum next year.

Outline plan to safeguard Spitalfields. Art: Lucinda RogersOutline plan to safeguard Spitalfields. Art: Lucinda Rogers

Every home and business is getting a leaflet and letters are going to anyone who would be affected by the proposed plan one way or another.

It comes from Spitalfdields Neighbourhood planning forum set up by Tower Hamlets Council in 2016 as a “people’s checklist” consultative body tackling development issues such as encroachment spilling over from the City.

“It’s not enough that people just know about our neighbourhood plan,” the forum’s chairman James Frankcom told the East London Advertiser.

“It’s vital that they tell us what they think. Every piece of feedback will be considered.”

Planning Forum chairman James Frankcom... Planning Forum chairman James Frankcom... "It's vital that the people of Spitalfields tell us what they see for our furture." Picture: Mike Brooke

The consultation runs six weeks until September 14 when an independent inspector goes through the plan to make sure it conforms in law, then to be sent to the town hall in the New Year for scrutiny by a planning inspector for every dot and comma and to be agreed by the council.

It’s back to the people of Spitalfields after that for a public referendum likely to be next May, on the same day as a similar local referendum on the Isle of Dogs which has its own plan.

The Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan influences decisions affecting the environment and heritage of this ancient patch on the City Fringe.

It aims to maintain limited green spaces by requiring developers to add green roofs and walls and plant trees to any new building, or pay towards greening projects elsewhere in Spitalfields by default. Gardens and other green spaces would be protected against developers “nibbling away at the edges” by defining legal boundaries. This would protect Allen Gardens, Spitalfields City Farm, Elder Gardens, Christ Church Gardens and the Chicksand Ghat.

Boundary of proposed Spitalfelds Neighbourhood Plan... west from Petticoat Lane and Bishopsgate, east to Allen Gardens, then north to Cheshire Street and south to Wentworth Street.Boundary of proposed Spitalfelds Neighbourhood Plan... west from Petticoat Lane and Bishopsgate, east to Allen Gardens, then north to Cheshire Street and south to Wentworth Street.

The plan proposes to quadruple the rent discount from new affordable workspaces from 10 per cent to 45pc in to help small independent businesses.

Historic features would be protected by new structures restricted to the same height, scale and size as surrounding buildings, unlike the domineering skyscrapers along Bishopsgate looking down on the historic Hugonault neighbourhood. New schemes would also follow historic layout of streets and alleys in keeping with the neighbourhood.

Historic drinking water fountains would be restored and lost cobbles once tarred over in the post-War years would be restored, all to make Spitalfields a unique heritage.

Comments can be added online or to info@spitalfieldsforum.org.uk


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