TV's Dan Cruickshank in 'last stand' to stop Truman office block plan
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Protesters marched along Brick Lane to stop plans to replace part of the Truman Brewery site with an office block.
They converged on the corner of narrow Woodseer Street, where the offices are proposed, where TV historian Dan Cruickshank rallied opponents the scheme.
"What you don't need is West End shopping malls or City office blocks along Brick Lane," he told the crowd. "What's important is to protect local businesses, to have housing and workshops to encourage the area and keep what is special."
The Old Truman Brewery is currently home to 140 small businesses and enterprises and holds regular public events.
Jason Zeloof, one of the site's owners, has assured Tower Hamlets Council that these would continue.
The legacy of Truman's included company directors such as Hanbury and Buxton in the 18th century who ran soup kitchens for the East End's poor and campaigned in Parliament to abolish slavery.
Now rally organisers are fighting "to stop city interests destroying that heritage".
There were 7,000 objections to the five-storey scheme, which prompted groups like the Spitalfields Trust, East End Preservation Society and Bengali East End Heritage Society to take to the streets on July 18.
The preservation society's co-chair Jonathan Moberly told the rally that the community "will not leave quietly".
Jonathan said: "Spitalfields is under attack from all sides. We’ve seen the fruit exchange destroyed and rebuilt as corporate offices, a hollowed-out Spitalfields Market replaced with a corporate core and Bishopsgate ceded to the city.
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"Next, a huge office block in Whitechapel threatens to bury Canon Barnett Primary School from sunlight if it goes ahead."
Brick Lane's heritage is not about "bricks and mortar" but about the families he said had lived there for generations and "made it the place it is".
Truman's planning application was postponed in April by the council for lack of detail, but is set to be heard again on July 22.
The Zeloof brothers, who own the site, want to put up a five-storey building overlooking Woodseer Street's terraced houses.
The old brewery site currently stages art shows, food festivals, London's annual Shrove Tuesday pancake race and offers low rent to market stalls and small businesses.