Tracey Emin facing battle over plans to demolish 1920s architecture at Spitalfiields

Tracy Emin at a car boot fair maning her stall in Brick Lane

Tracy Emin at a car boot fair maning her stall in Brick Lane - Credit: Archant

Artist Tracey Emin’s plans to knock down a listed 1920s building to erect a modern five-storey studio complex in London’s East End is facing rejection tonight at a local authority planning meeting.

Tracy Emin at a car boot fair maning her stall in Brick Lane

Tracy Emin at a car boot fair maning her stall in Brick Lane - Credit: Archant

The Turner Prize nominee’s proposal at Spitalfields—next to where once stood the historic Shepherd’s Arch destroyed in the Second World War—faces 58 objections when it goes before Tower Hamlets planning committee.

Her plan involves demolishing numbers 66 to 88 Bell Lane to be replaced by a single-dwelling house with an artist studio linked to her home next door in Tenter Ground where the archway once stood.

The application has attracted 69 written representations, all but 11 against.

Reasons cited by objectors include the “wholesale demolition of a heritage asset of considerable architectural and local historic value” while the design proposed would be “unsympathetic” to the historic character of the neighbourhood.

Tracy Emin at a car boot fair maning her stall in Brick Lane

Tracy Emin at a car boot fair maning her stall in Brick Lane - Credit: Archant


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One objector said it would be an “ugly eyesore and a triumph for money over the preservation of local history”.

Critics include the East End Preservation Society.

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The scheme is being recommended by council officers to be rejected.

The design by David Chipperfield architects had considerable architectural merit, they acknowledge, but was not exceptional enough to overcome the loss of the existing building.

Emin’s scheme would fail to meet statutory requirements to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Artillery Passage conservation area.

But Emin’s supporters argue that the design would bring cultural and economic benefit to the area.

Emin, 52, spent a reported £4m in 2008 buying part of Tenter Ground to use as a studio and said she wanted to maintain the area’s heritage.

But she has already submitted an appeal ahead of tonight’s meeting to the government’s Planning Inspectorate to decide the application, it is understood.

Save Britain’s Heritage accused Emin of “riding roughshod” over local opposition with her decision to appeal.

“We have to treasure all historic buildings in the area,” its director Clem Cecil said. “We hope Tower Hamlets does the right thing—it’s a locally listed building in a conservation area.”

The proposal would follow the controversial demolition in Spitalfields of the London Fruit & Wool Exchange next to Bell Lane last year, called in by London Mayor Boris Johnson who gave developers the go-ahead, despite public opposition.

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