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Battle to stop Spitalfields turning into London’s new music venue

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:44 05 October 2010

FAMILIES are fighting plans to turn East London’s famous Spitalfields market into a major concert and entertainment venue on their doorstep. The market hall opposite Hawkesmoor’s listed 18th century Spitalfields Church could become the new venue for live music shows, dance performances, symphony concerts, sporting events and even boxing and wrestling matches. Booze would be available until late in the evening. But the families—some with young children—living along Commercial Street are worried they would be kept awake at night and their lives ruined

Gemma Collins

FAMILIES are fighting plans to turn East London’s famous Spitalfields market into a major concert and entertainment venue on their doorstep.

The market hall opposite Hawkesmoor’s listed 18th century Spitalfields Church could become the new venue for live music shows, dance performances, symphony concerts, sporting events and even boxing and wrestling matches.

Booze would be available at every event until late in the evening.

But the families—some with young children—living along Commercial Street are worried they would be kept awake at night and their lives ruined.

They also fear more drunken revellers outside their front doors at all hours.

The listed 19th century market complex started life as the original Spitalfields wholesale fruit and veg market.

But more recently, after the wholesalers moved to Stratford more than 25 years ago, it has been the place to pick up antiques, records and fashion.

Now the market owners, Ballymore, hope to get the green light on Thursday night from Tower Hamlets licensing sub committee to stage live entertainment until 11.30pm every night, as well as selling alcohol until 11pm weekday and 11.30pm Saturdays.

So the residents have lodged a petition at the Town Hall against the move.

Spitalfields Market Residents’ Group chairman Michael Myers said: “The market isn’t an enclosed site—sounds generated from live entertainment will flood out into the surrounding area, much of which is also residential.

“The noise created by people leaving after a raucous event and fuelled by alcohol will cause further distress to families.”

One furious parent, Adam Stanhope, has written to Tower Hamlets council objecting to the music and booze license—worried that it would badly affect his seven-year-old daughter who is in bed by 7.30 each evening.

“We are terrified this application will destroy our lives completely,” he said in his letter.

“Like the other children whose homes adjoin and overlook this area, she will undoubtedly be harmed by this.”

But Ballymore insist its security contractors will keep an eye on the entertainment “to respect the public nature of the area and the needs of its community and residents.”

Their solicitor says Ballymore intends to “increase the market’s contribution to the cultural life of the capital” by creating a professionally-run venue for hosting world-class events in a stunning setting.

The market is already used twice a year for the Spitalfields Festival.

But the developers also have plans to stage a BBC Proms concert with the BBC Symphony orchestra, a four-day craft exhibition, a Pimms alcohol event and set the market hall up as a City Fringe’ venue to premier films.

Thursday’s Town Hall meeting looks set for a major confrontation with the Spitalfields residents determined to stop Ballymore’s application in its tracks.

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