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Now you have your say on the draft Spitalfields neighbourhood plan for the next 15 years

PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 July 2020

David Donoghue the night his Spitalfields Planning Forum got Tower Hamlets recognition. Picture: Mike Brooke

David Donoghue the night his Spitalfields Planning Forum got Tower Hamlets recognition. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Five years of “haggling” have now ended in a deal ready for the public to decide the whole future of Spitalfields with its own draft neighbourhood plan now completed.

James Frankcom (left) and Spitalfields Forum chairman David Donoghue haggling details of draft neighbourhood plan. Picture: Mike BrookeJames Frankcom (left) and Spitalfields Forum chairman David Donoghue haggling details of draft neighbourhood plan. Picture: Mike Brooke

This will be the East End’s second neighbourhood plan after Tower Hamlets Council formally adopted the Isle of Dogs scheme earlier this year — which is subject to a public referendum that has been delayed by the coronavirus emergency.

Now the Spitalfields Planning Forum has completed its own plan for public perusal over the next eight weeks before it can be formalised with a referendum next year.

“We’ve gone through five years of haggling,” the forum’s secretary James Frankom told the East London Advertiser.

“We must now carry out a public consultation by law, get council approval and have a referendum to be legally adopted.”

Commercial Street... former Godfrey Phillips' art deco complex at the heart of Spitalfields neighbourhood. Picture: Mike BrookeCommercial Street... former Godfrey Phillips' art deco complex at the heart of Spitalfields neighbourhood. Picture: Mike Brooke

Many groups put their oars into the shifting current and finally worked out the draft plan. They include the East End Trades Guild, Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust, the Old Truman Brewery, Spitalfields Community Group, Spitalfields City Farm and Spitalfields Society.

The society’s chairman David Donoghue said: “This draft plan recognises the heritage of the area and aims to protect a complex and important historic neighbourhood.”

Small businesses hold the key to its future. The area has Commercial Street and Brick Lane at its heart with a thriving local trade and night-time economy on the fringe of the City, from Bishopsgate and Petticoat Lane in the west to Allen Gardens in the east, stretching south to Wentworth Street and north to Cheshire Street. It has two of London’s most famous street markets.

Tayo Abimbola, boss of Franceskka Fabrics in Wentworth Street and Brick Lane, said: “We must do more to get people to come to Brick Lane — this plan will do good things for the community.”

Brick Lane... protecting night-time economy on the City Fringe. Picture: Mike BrookeBrick Lane... protecting night-time economy on the City Fringe. Picture: Mike Brooke

The forum has spent five years drumming up support to use planning law to keep a check on encroachment from the City and safeguard whatever green space is left.

The next bit after the eight-week consultation is to get an independent inspector to give the plan the once-over. This can be a hurdle, which already delayed the Isle of Dogs plan when an inspector turned it down in 2018 on a technicality, before finally giving the green light last year.

The Spitalfields plan has rules that would affect all planning applications until 2035, including “urban heritage” to protect historic buildings and “environment” to safeguard green space against being “nibbled away” at the edges. There would also be help for small businesses to survive on the City Fringe to stop big chains scooping everything up.

Consultations run till September 14 with the plan on Spitalfields Forum website.


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