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Inspector looks at controversial bid for flats next to historic tavern

PUBLISHED: 17:07 17 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:46 05 October 2010

A TOP Government planning inspector has been down to London’s East End to see for himself how a controversial new block of flats might affect the famous George Tavern. It follows a campaign earlier this year by pub landlady Pauline Forster which saw off’ the proposal for the five-storey bock s on the old Stepney’s Nightclub site next to her tavern in Commercial Road

Mike Brooke

A TOP Government planning inspector has been down to London’s East End to see for himself how a controversial new block of flats might affect the famous George Tavern.

It follows a campaign earlier this year by pub landlady Pauline Forster which saw off’ the proposal for the five-storey bock s on the old Stepney’s Nightclub site next to her tavern in Commercial Road.

The plans were thrown out by Tower Hamlets council in the summer.

But Swan Housing association which bought the site lodged an appeal last month, resulting in Friday’s site visit to The George by the inspector with the town hall’s conservation officer and Swan Housing’s chief.

“I allowed them into my home to see from the bedroom window the light would be affected by the five-storey block,” Pauline told the East London Advertiser.

“The inspector wanted to see for himself its impact. I’m keeping fingers tightly crossed.

“The council turned down the planning application on valid legal grounds, but Swan Housing has resubmitted it again on appeal.”

Her Save The George’ campaign brought in streams showbiz personalities to protect the venue which is used for fashion photo-shoots and live entertainment.

The Georgian Grade II-listed tavern is on the site of an earlier half way house’ which is shown on 17th century maps predating the Commercial Road and believed to go back to Medieval times.

Campaigners have already uncovered a hidden tunnel deep underground leading from the cellar of The George which still has its 18th century brick arches and alcoves. Pauline fears this would all be lost by the redevelopment.

The Government inspector is expected to make his final recommendation to the Secretary of State next month.

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