Home East London Voters to go to polls on Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan

Voters to go to polls on Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan


4:29 PM November 9, 2021

Voters go to the polls on November 11 in a referendum to decide on the proposed Spitalfields Neighbourhood Plan, which campaigners say would protect the district from encroaching over-development.  

Two polling stations are being set up — families and businesses west of Brick Lane can vote at Hanbury Hall in Hanbury Street, while those living eastward can vote at the Montefiore Centre in Deal Street.  

London Assembly's Unmesh Desai (left) tours Brick Lane with Spitalfields Forum members

London Assembly’s Unmesh Desai (left) tours Brick Lane with Spitalfields Forum members

– Credit: Mike Brooke

The Neighbourhood Plan aims to influence all future planning decisions and could be formally adopted by Tower Hamlets Council next year, if it is approved at this vote. 

It has been put together by Spitalfields Planning Forum, which was set up in 2014 and was itself officially recognised by the town hall in 2016.  

Forum secretary David Donoghue... developers

Forum secretary David Donoghue… developers “turning our neighbourhood into soulless streets”.

– Credit: Mike Brooke

“The referendum is a one-off chance to have a real say in the future of Spitalfields,” the forum’s secretary David Donoghue told the East London Advertiser.

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He claimed developers “want to turn our neighbourhood into soulless streets with high-rise buildings at high rents that nobody can pay”. 

“Only a neighbourhood plan can prevent big offices pushing out small businesses and making it harder for families to live here,” David added.  

The move follows a similar neighbourhood plan adopted in May for the Isle of Dogs after a successful local referendum. 

Protest march in the summer over redevelopment scheme in Brick Lane

Protest march in the summer over redevelopment scheme in Brick Lane

– Credit: Mike Brooke

But the proposed Spitalfields plan comes too late to influence Brick Lane’s biggest redevelopment in decades at the Old Truman Brewery, that led to protests and marches in the summer. The scheme was delayed by the campaigners — but eventually got planning approval.

It could be in time, however, to stop the Holland Estate near Petticoat Lane “from ever being knocked down”, which protesters say faces City encroachment on its doorstep.  

Area of neighbourhood plan

Area of neighbourhood plan

– Credit: Google

The Spitalfields plan stretches from Wentworth Street in the south to Cheshire Street in the north and from Bishopsgate in the west to Deal Street and Allen Gardens in the east.

It aims to stop developers “nibbling away at the edges” by defining legal boundaries that would protect Allen Gardens, Spitalfields City Farm, Elder Gardens, Christ Church Gardens and the Chicksand open space.   

Neighbourhood plan for Spitalfields

Neighbourhood plan for Spitalfields

– Credit: Lucinda Rogers

Historic features would be protected because new structures would be restricted to the same height, scale and size as surrounding buildings.

New schemes would follow traditional street and alley alignments in keeping with the neighbourhood.