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Brick Lane to be transformed to continental ‘piazza’ during summer trial

PUBLISHED: 17:38 05 August 2013 | UPDATED: 17:38 05 August 2013

Brick Lane houses the Curry Capital of London, in Bangla town ward.

Brick Lane houses the Curry Capital of London, in Bangla town ward.

Archant

The East End’s iconic Brick Lane is being pedestrianised for a trial period this summer in the hope of bringing a continental “piazza” to the East End.

In a move which has divided opinion, a section of the lane will be closed to traffic for four weekends this month.

Announcing the plan, a Tower Hamlets Council spokesman said: “Our vision is to create an area that is safe and attractive for visitors travelling by foot, with a thriving day time and night time economy and we hope that the pedestrianisation will provide a ‘piazza’ style environment.”

The trial will see the area, which runs from Shoreditch to Whitechapel, close to traffic from 2pm on three Saturdays, before a two day celebration is staged on the weekend of August 31.

The council insists the pedestrianisation will not lead to longer opening times for the area’s restaurants and bars.

But residents’ groups have expressed fears that the move will increase levels of anti-social behaviour in an area already recognised by authorities as problematic.

In a letter to deputy Mayor Cllr Ohid Ahmed, vice chair of the Spitalfields Community Group Jon Shapiro accused the council of an “infatuation” with promoting the area’s evening economy.

“It seems to me that the plan to have a trial in August of making parts of Brick Lane a pedestrian precinct is just another example of pandering to one small section of the community to the exclusion of the vast majority of local residents and other Brick Lane businesses,” he wrote.

While Tower Hamlets Council admitted feedback on the proposal from residents and businesses has so far been “mixed”, it hopes the trial will provide a clear idea of how the whole area may benefit.

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