Preservation Society set up to stop City ‘invading’ London’s traditional East End

Packed audience at East End Preservation Society launch

Packed audience at East End Preservation Society launch - Credit: Archant

A new battle front has opened in a war against City developers encroaching further into London’s traditional East End with the launch of a preservation alliance.

Packed audience at East End Preservation Society launch

Packed audience at East End Preservation Society launch - Credit: Archant

The new East End Preservation Society was born at a packed meeting at the Bishopsgate Institute to bring community groups together and throw down the gauntlet to Boris Johnson.

Packed audience at East End Preservation Society launch

Packed audience at East End Preservation Society launch - Credit: Archant

Several campaigns have now joined up to protect heritage buildings—some being won, others already lost.

These include lost battles over the historic London Fruit & Wool Exchange in Spitalfields and the Queen Elizabeth Children’s Hospital in Hackney Road where redevelopment threatens to overshadow Hackney City Farm.

But one group buoyed by Tower Hamlets council last week rejecting controversial plans for skyscrapers in Bethnal Green, close to the historic ‘Jago’ Boundary Estate, are now setting up east London’s first people’s forum with powers to make developers adhere to an agreed planning guidance.

The East Shoreditch Planning Forum being ratified next month is to have legal authority under new legislation to put the breaks on massive developments that threaten traditional neighbourhoods, the Preservation Society launch heard.

“This is straight out of the gates and steaming ahead,” said the Shoreditch forum’s coordinator Brad Lochore.

Most Read

“We’re getting our acts together and going to take on the Mayor of London to stop this insane City development process destroying neighbourhoods.”

But it’s just one of the battle fronts the new Preservation Society is mounting. Other groups are fighting rearguard actions despite losing the fight to save the Fruit & Wool Exchange.

TV historian Dan Cruickshank said: “London is being Philistine about its heritage with forces at work undermining local democracy.

“The Mayor of London intervenes and overturns democratically-reached decisions and acts as judge and jury against the opinions of the people and locally-elected politicians. It’s the death of local democracy.”

The Preservation Society would give a voice to the people “to fight those forces which undermine and destroy the great East End of London,” Cruickshank added.

Another battle lost is the disused Queen Elizabeth children’s hospital in Hackney Road, soon to be bulldozed despite petition with 3,000 names.

Yet campaigner Lucy Rogers is determined the fight continues.

“We can still lobby Boris Johnson before he hands over the building,” she said. “The Mayor may have given planning permission, but City Hall is still the owner, so we will lobby them.”

The Preservation launch was backed by Save Britain’s Heritage, whose president Marcus Binney admitted it was too late to save many architecturally historical buildings like the Fruit & Wool Exchange, but losing such a landmark battle “will swing public opinion into action” to protect the rest of the East End.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter