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Time out for Spitalfields bar and restaurant scheme as Tower Hamlets rejects application

PUBLISHED: 22:33 10 May 2017 | UPDATED: 07:59 11 May 2017

Plan to turn this historic former stables in Spitalfields into restaurant complex for 500 diners. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Plan to turn this historic former stables in Spitalfields into restaurant complex for 500 diners. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Mike Brooke

Developers tonight have lost the “battle of the booze” in London’s East End to convert an historic building in Spitalfields once used as Victorian omnibus stables into a complex of 17 restaurants and four bars.

Susan Kay's plea to planners: Susan Kay's plea to planners: "I get woken up by drunks screaming and arguing in the street." Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Campaigners packing the town hall public gallery cheered as Tower Hamlets Council rejected Time Out Markets’ controversial scheme for an area that protesters say is already “filled with drinking dens”.

The authority’s development committee unanimously called “time out” on the company’s application to turn the listed building in Commercial Street into London’s latest eating attraction for up to 500 diners.

“The massive proliferation of clubs, pubs and licensed premises has already caused us all much distress,” Susan Kay who lives opposite the listed building told councillors.

Rejected... Time Out's plan for 500-seater eatery in Commercial Street. Picture: MIKE BROOKERejected... Time Out's plan for 500-seater eatery in Commercial Street. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

“I have been woken up well into the early hours by drunken people screaming, singing and arguing in the street making their way to Liverpool Street.

“Now we have this application to open 17 restaurants and four bars in a property locked on all four sides by residential properties, many having sleeping spaces adjoining.”

The council’s own planning department rather liked the scheme and recommended passing it, to the fury of objectors like architect Rupert Wheeler who designed the refurbishment of the Golden Heart pub next door.

Spitalfields architect Rupert Wheeler: “How is all this madness and chaos going to succeed as ‘a fine eating experience’?” Picture: MIKE BROOKESpitalfields architect Rupert Wheeler: “How is all this madness and chaos going to succeed as ‘a fine eating experience’?” Picture: MIKE BROOKE

He demanded to know why planning officers ignored the town centre manager’s warning that the scheme would mean more anti-social behaviour and increasing crime in what was already a hotspot.

Campaigners in the public gallery applauded when he asked: “How are 2,000 customers a day, or 3,500 at weekends, along with queues waiting to go in, all-day deliveries, people carrying food and drink, smokers popping in and out, going to fit into this 6ft-wide entrance?”

“How is all this madness, danger and chaos going to succeed as ‘a fine eating experience’?”

Rejected... Time Out's barrister Rupert Warren loses 'battle of the booze' at Tower Hamlets development committee. Picture: MIKE BROOKERejected... Time Out's barrister Rupert Warren loses 'battle of the booze' at Tower Hamlets development committee. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

Time Out Markets’ barrister Rupert Warren’s response was that the restaurant complex would not add to the street crowds or the acknowledged anti-social problems in the area. It would, instead, add to the East End’s thriving ‘eating out’ trade.

The development committee, however, would have none of it and called “time out” on the scheme with a unanimous rejection vote.

Campaigner David Donoghue who chairs the local Neighbourhood Forum told the East London Advertiser after the meeting: “Spitalfields is already chock full of pubs, bars and drinking dens—tonight’s decision was the right one.

Victory for Spitalfields campaigners David Donoghue (left), Susan Kay and Rupert Wheeler after Tower Hamlets throws out plan for 500-seater eatery. Picture: MIKE BROOKEVictory for Spitalfields campaigners David Donoghue (left), Susan Kay and Rupert Wheeler after Tower Hamlets throws out plan for 500-seater eatery. Picture: MIKE BROOKE

“We already have enough anti-social behaviour and street crime at night. This would have thrown oil onto the fire.”

The Time Out scheme had previously had its booze license application binned just two months ago after 70 objections from neighbours, conservation trusts and local groups.


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