Crunch time for Brick Lane: decision on future of Old Truman Brewery deferred

Iconic Grade II-listed Truman's chimney dominates Brick Lane... it's future now up in the air

Iconic Grade II-listed Truman chimney dominates Brick Lane... its future now up in the air - Credit: Google

Controversial plans for the future of Brick Lane's famous Old Truman Brewery have been put back after Tower Hamlets Council members were unhappy with the owners' assurances about protecting community interests. 

The planning application heard at the council's development committee tonight (April 27) will now be re-examined.

Town hall planning officers will hold further talks with the Zeloof family, who have owned the Spitalfields complex for 26 years since the closure of the brewery, which was established in 1666 and was once the world's biggest.

The owners want to put up a five-storey commercial building on the corner of Woodseer Street at the south end of the site, but councillors tonight felt this would impact badly on families in the terrace of houses along the narrow turning.

The proposal raised 7,000 objections from East End heritage groups, traders and the public.

One objector who has lived in Woodseer Street for 40 years where she raised her family, Marian Goodridge, fears losing 40 per cent daylight in her home from the proposed building.

"This would make us suffer," she told councillors. "My living room has always depended on daylight from the street. We'll be overpowered by five-storey towers either end of the street.

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"This should be refused."  

Annual Shrove Tuesday pancake race at Old Truman's Brewery... one of many community events

Annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Race at Dray Walk in Old Truman Brewery... one of many community events - Credit: Alternative Arts

Old Truman Brewery currently hosts community events such as art shows, food festivals and the annual Pancake Race. It also offers low rent to market stalls and restaurants. 

Jason Zeloof, one of three brothers who own the Truman site, assured the meeting that these would continue, along with expanded commercial space for small and micro-businesses. 

Council members accepted this, but said there were no details "set in stone" in his application. 

Typical weekend street food stall at Old Truman Brewery 

Typical weekend street food stall at Old Truman Brewery - Credit: Mike Brooke

Deferring the application would clear things up, Cllr Kevin Brady proposed. He was backed by both the planning committee and its chair to overturn the council planning officers' recommendation to accept.

Thriving market place at Old Truman's Brewery... but what of its future? 

Thriving market place at Old Truman Brewery... but what of its future? - Credit: Mike Brooke

Plans include two new restaurants, one housed across the famous Truman's bridge looking down on Brick Lane that linked the two halves of the brewery.

Developers said the proposals have been in the pipeline for over four years and there has been “extensive consultation” with the council, residents, local workers and businesses.

“This gradual and responsive approach to the application and design process has resulted in a well-considered contextual and high quality design with appropriate uses which will improve and enhance the Brick Lane town centre,” Old Truman Brewery said in documents submitted to the council.

Brick Lane festival December 2017 when historic images were beamed onto the Truman Brewery bridge

Brick Lane festival December 2017 when historic images were beamed onto the Truman Brewery bridge - Credit: Jeremy Freedman