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Trouble At The Truman Brewery

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by the Gentle Author

In recent years, Spitalfields has faced a wave of soulless corporate development spreading from the west, inflicting ugly steel and glass blocks that are entirely at odds with the narrow streets of old brick buildings here. First it was the Spitalfields Market, then the Fruit & Wool Exchange and Norton Folgate, and now the wave has reached the historic Truman Brewery, where a massive shopping mall with offices on top is proposed.

So far, these developments have all served as extensions of the business culture of the City of London and offer little to the residents of the East End where the priorities are for housing and affordable workspace. The Truman Brewery is the largest undeveloped site in Spitalfields and it needs a planning brief created in consultation with the community which reflects the needs of local people, rather than more bland corporate offices, chain retail and bars.

I am publishing a statement below by the Spitalfields Trust and I hope readers will support this important campaign for the future of Spitalfields.

A big block on Brick Lane
A big block on Brick Lane
Shopping mall
Shopping mall
Corporate plaza
Corporate plaza


The vast Truman Brewery site needs a proper development brief from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

  • For this large site in such an important location, it is usual for the local council to create a development brief, providing guidance on the type of uses which the area actually needs. This is an important opportunity for LBTH to focus on housing and affordable work space.  They have the power to set parameters for the size, bulk and design of the buildings on this site. 

This proposal slices off the south-east corner of the Truman Brewery site for an ill-conceived development.

  • Large glass-walled corporate offices with double-height foyers onto Brick Lane, adopting the architectural language of the City which has no place in the Conservation Area.
  • A lamentable failure to address the pressing need for housing and affordable workspace in the  area. 
  • A shopping mall spilling out into the small surrounding streets, bringing more than a thousand extra people into the narrow streets at peak weekend hours.
  • Buildings that are too tall and bulky which will have a harmful impact on the character of Brick Lane and the characterful nineteenth-century terrace on the south side of Woodseer St, while obscuring views of the historic Truman Brewery chimney. 
  • Destroying the distinction between the vibrant, busy character of Brick Lane and Woodseer Street which is a quiet, residential backwater.
  • Breaching the local planning guidance that new retail and restaurants should be resisted in the residential side streets off Brick Lane.
  • This development focusses on commercial space at the expense of local residents interests, by overshadowing of local houses, creating up to 60% loss of light, and delivering a huge increase in the visitor numbers with all the associated noise and disturbance. 
  • Restaurants with open-air spaces and three terraces for corporate entertainment.
  • Very few residents have been consulted.

The Truman Brewery development is a short-sighted, poorly and insensitively designed scheme based on an antiquated business model.  Rather than providing much needed housing and affordable workspace, it seeks to introduce buildings inappropriate to the Conservation Area, which will destroy its appearance and character to the detriment of residents and the local community.

Click here to see the planning application.


  1. Quote Planning Application PA/20/00415/A1  (140 and 146 Brick Lane, and 25 Woodseer St, London E1).
  2. Please write in your own words your reasons for OBJECTION before Friday 26th June.
  3. Remember to include your postal address. Members of one household can each write separately. Anyone can object wherever they are in the world.

Send your objection to 

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Twitter @SpitalfieldsT / Facebook /thespitalfieldstrust / Instagram @spitalfields_trust

Words by the Gentle Author

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Image ©The Gentle Author

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