‘Time out’ call on Time Out bar complex plan for Spitalfields

Spitalfields Headborough David Donoghue

Spitalfields Headborough David Donoghue - Credit: Archant

Communities in London’s East End won a battle last night to stop an historic building once used as Victorian omnibus stables into a food court of 17 restaurants and four bars in a neighbourhood already filled with “drinking dens”.

Protesters packed the public gallery at Tower Hamlets Council’s licensing committee which rejected proposals to turn 106 Commercial Street—in the middle of the Spitalfields’ historic Conservation Area—into a massive 500 seat restaurant and bar complex.

The application from Time Out Markets faced a record 70 objections from neighbours, conservation trusts and local groups fearing the unique character of the area was in danger from “a mass proliferation of drinking establishments”.

It was unanimously rejected to cheers from the gallery.

“It would have led to rising crime and anti-social behaviour,” the area’s new village Headborough David Donoghue told the East London Advertiser.

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“This is a landmark decision the council has made in refusing the licensing application outright and unanimously—the first time this has ever happened in Spitalfields which is already chock full of pubs, bars and drinking dens.

“We had 70 individuals and groups representing 1,000 people, all fed up with nightly disturbances and street violence.”

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One of the organisations is the newly-recognised Spitalfields Neighbourhood Forum—David is its Headborough, a post last used in the 18th century.

Time Out Markets wanted to turn the old stables that once housed London Omnibus Company horses into a food court of 17 restaurants and four bars, in spite of being surrounded on all sides by historic 18th century Huguenot silkweavers’ houses.

The council’s refusal for a full-on bar licence was for not complying with the terms of the Cumulative Impact Zone that covers Spitalfields.

But Time Out Markets isn’t resting and intends to appeal.

A company spokesman told the Advertiser: “We are disappointed that our application was rejected at the first hearing. We have listened to the community since our initial application and intend to appeal the decision. We will continue to liaise with residents and businesses in the area.”

Neighbourhood Headborough Donoghue, however, insists: “We are not Nimbys—but this Victorian building just isn’t suitable for 500 revellers at a time. There are other, more suitable places with more open facilities.”

Time Out Markets points out it was successful with a planning and zoning application in the US to apply for a building permit in an historic area of Miami South Beach to “keep us on track to open a new market in 2018”.

But that’s not the same for Spitalfields, where the neighbourhood forum intends to “resist the conversion of the whole neighbourhood into one massive drinking den”. This follows years of rising crime and anti-social behaviour that families complain they’ve had to put up with from having so many licensed venues on their doorstep.

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