'Make your voice heard' plea as Spitalfields plan deadline approaches

Historic Spitalfields with City encroachment creeping ever closer

Historic Spitalfields with City encroachment creeping ever closer. - Credit: Jeremy Freedman

Campaigners are appealing this week for people to make their voices heard ahead of the final deadline for a draft Neighbourhood Plan protecting the future of Spitalfields.

The consultation ends on Thursday, February 18. The Neighbourhood Forum is urging residents and businesses to add their say online to Tower Hamlets Council in time for a local referendum later this year or next. 

The proposed Neighbourhood Plan, similar to one going ahead on the Isle of Dogs, would influence decisions affecting the environment and heritage of this ancient patch on the City Fringe. 

Neighbourhood plan to protect historic Spitalfields

Neighbourhood plan to protect historic Spitalfields - Credit: Lucinda Rogers

It would protect what limited green spaces there are and prevent “nibbling away at the edges” by defining legal boundaries and require developers to plant trees or pay towards greening projects by default. This would protect endangered areas like Allen Gardens, Spitalfields City Farm and historic Christ Church Gardens.  

Historic features would be respected by new buildings being restricted to the same height, scale and size as surrounding ones, unlike the domineering skyscrapers along Bishopsgate looking down on the historic Huguenot neighbourhood. New schemes would also follow historic layout of streets and alleys in keeping with the district.  

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Bigger rent discounts on affordable workspaces are also proposed from 10 per cent to 45pc to help small independent businesses.  

Spitalfields Neighbourhood Forum chairman James Frankcom

Spitalfields Neighbourhood Forum chairman James Frankcom addressing a Tower Hamlets Council cabinet meeting on the area's future - Credit: Mike Brooke

“We really need the people to do their bit on the council’s online consultation form,” the forum’s chairman James Frankcom told the East London Advertiser.  

“Consultations can be tedious because there are so many and so often they appear pointless. But this one is different.” 
The neighbourhood plan has been written by people in the area who have been working on it since 2014. 

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The February 18 deadline is the last time anything can be submitted before a local referendum public vote would be held. 

Boundary of proposed Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan

Boundary of proposed Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan - Credit: Google

The plan, once approved, forms legally enforceable local planning law for Spitalfields until 2035, which campaigners see as a safety net against encroachment from the City spreading into the East End. 

Comments on the council’s dedicated email address are being passed to the Independent Examiner to assess the plan before the referendum. The email is: neighbourhoodplanning@towerhamlets.gov.uk 

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