George Tavern ready for second decade of war with developers in the Commercial Road
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Pub landlady Pauline Forster was staging a victory celebration gig in east London to mark the end of her 10-year war against developers threatening the future of Stepney’s historic George Tavern—only to be faced with another battle looming on a second front.
She won in the town hall, the High Court and even the Appeal Court to stop the old Stepney’s nightclub that once butted onto her nightspot venue in Commercial Road being turned into flats—which would have jeopardised her 3am music license.
Top rock names headlined Friday’s noisy celebration after Swan Housing finally threw in the towel on the scheme first lodged in 2007.
But now the mum-of-five faces other developers who have put in a planning bid to convert an empty office block in Jubilee Street at the back of her pub into 40 flats.
“We need work and office space in this area—not flats next to a music venue,” Pauline told the East London Advertiser.
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“But it’s been marketed as ‘residential’ and sold to developers. Each resident would have the right to complain about our noise.”
The three-storey building had been empty since 2008, with a suggestion from Pauline that it could be used as a charity health hub for the elderly being rejected.
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“It was occupied many times by squatters,” Pauline added. “There were several fires—it was a nightmare.”
Pauline has become a seasoned fighter from 2007 against developers’ encroachment. Her tavern, first recorded on the site in the 17th century, is regularly used for filming, including movies of The Krays and Sherlock Holmes, because of its original fittings.
Now other developers set their sights on the Jubilee Street building at the rear.
Pauline’s lawyer Harry Campbell said: “It’s going to be a hard fight, but we are in a strong position with the old nightclub refusal, because the council has to take into consideration for any new application involving The George. There’s a requirement for consistency.”
Audio engineers were in Jubilee Street on Friday to see what impact music at The George might have on any residential scheme.
Pauline and her lawyer were confident no-one would want to buy a flat with such a noisy venue on their doorstep.