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The Petition...

"We want to see the unique character to the Spitalfields area preserved wherever possible and so we strongly oppose the destruction of three-fifths of the historic old covered market to make way for yet another office development. Given the changes to the City of London and Tower Hamlets over the last 15 years we say we need a new planning brief for this landmark site, with widespread consultation, for a new Millennium."
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Result of September 10th meeting: Councillors again vote to defer their decision.

Ballymore is still applying to build large glass blocks inside open market space, reducing the space for stalls and converting the market into a high-rent eating and drinking complex.

Since the deferred meeting of June 25th, Ballymore have been negotiating with the Council. Their plans have not changed in any way, but they have come up with the promise of a further £179,000 if the Councillors pass their plans. Ballymore have scrapped the legal obligation to provide subsidised local shops in the market stock market binary options, which was a specific measure designed to keep a local stake in the development.

In spite of wide opposition to the plans, Tower Hamlets planning officers recommend that Councillors pass all parts of Ballymore‚s scheme. At Wednesday‚ meeting, Councillors did not address why the local shops measure has been scrapped, or the value of Sunday market and why it brings people to the area, or the loss of the important and unique open public
space. Their reason to defer their decision is because there is still no final figure set for Ballymore‚s financial obligations. Planning officers tried to persuade the panel to pass the scheme in principle and leave the financial “detail” to be worked out afterwards but this idea was rejected by seven votes to four.

The Council‚s report can be seen at www. towerhamlets.gov.uk click on: Planning and
Development....Development Panel....Reports....September 10th

On June 25th Spitalfields was withdrawn from the meeting agenda

On Wednesday evening before the meeting began the Ballymore plans were withdrawn from the agenda by Council officers, following the receipt of letters from solicitor Richard Buxton on behalf of Spitalfields Market Residents' Association and from the Banglatown Restaurants Association.This meeting followed only two weeks after the last and was to have been the final decision on the plans, with Ballymore pushing for approval.

The letter from Richard Buxton was instrumental in the decision to withdraw, and included points relating to the impact of the development on the area, the abandonment of the local shops provision, the proposed 106 agreement, conservation and design. The Banglatown Restaurants Association urged the Council to reject the proposals because of the serious threat to the Brick Lane restaurant zone and consequent job losses.

Councillors must now address these issues fully. There is no date set for the next meeting and it could be back on the agenda at any time.

At the meeting on June 11th Councillors deferred a decision on the plans, saying they were unhappy with the offers of financial compensation to the community proposed by Ballymore (and approved by Council planners). Members of the panel were critical of the way in which the financial negociations between Ballymore and the Council had been carried out, and said the process should be “more transparent”.

The councillors agreed to hold a further informal meeting to work out new and better terms of the legal financial agreement (or section 106) which is tied to all parts of the Ballymore applications.

Councillor Doros Ullah noted that a 49-name petition from “local people” supporting Ballymore‚s applications contained many addresses of people not local to the area, who would not be affected by the plans in Spitalfields.

Before the decision to defer, residents of the Horner Buildings were pleased with the result of the vote taken on permission for Saturday trading. Not one councillor voted in favour of Saturday trading, which they saw as disruptive to residents. Councillor Ghulam Mortuza also said it would “change the local character for no good reason”.

The coming meeting will show whether the Council will further scrutinise and challenge Ballymore's plans or be swayed by financial "compensation".

In January demolition of the western end of the Market took place, despite SMUT's efforts to save it. See below for a statement.

NOW the remaining half of the Market - which the developers still say is "saved" - is in turn threatened by redevelopment by Ballymore.

Ballymore's plans for the 'saved' end of the Market (the Horner Buildings)


The plans mean halving the number of stalls to build glass blocks inside the space, and will change Spitalfields Market into a high-rent eating and drinking complex designed for City workers.

At January's planning meeting the council deferred their decision so that they could look more closely at the local effects of the development. Councillors suggested setting up a forum for this discussion, but have not done so - a further example of their failure
to stand up for local concerns in Spitalfields. The Council recommends passing all the current plans. See their responses below.

What the development means for traders and residents

  • The area for stalls will be reduced by over half because Ballymore want to build large permanent blocks of units for retail and restaurants inside the open space. These glass blocks will reduce the floor space
    by nearly 50%.
  • The Sunday market will be reduced from 300 to only 170 stalls. Over 130 Sunday stallholders will lose their pitches.
  • The new shop units will be permanent premises not Sunday pitches. They would in theory be available to stallholders but the rents will be much higher than current stall rents. There is no provision for local shops.
  • Ballymore say that they will retain 340 stalls. This is because they are planning to open a Saturday market - they have counted 170 stalls twice. This would introduce a two-tier system of Sunday traders and Saturday traders. Unlike Sunday, Saturday is not an established day for markets in the area.
  • The stalls area doubles as an "event space" - when there is an event there will be nowhere for the stalls to go.
  • More late-night drinking venues ignore concerns of residents in the Horner Buildings.
  • Ballymore‚s plans for the “Saved” Spitalfields Market will completely change the valued character, diversity and originality of the market as it is now. They will create a sanitised market dominated by large units, mainly restaurants and bars, at standard rents, with less opportunity for small enterprises. With the approved plans for the Foster office building that destroys the western half of the Market they will complete the City‚s takeover of Spitalfields instigated by the Corporation of London and its developers SDG for their financial gain and with the loss of local assets.

“Ken Livingstone claims to have ‘retained‚ the market but his backing for the disastrous Spitalfields Development plans will lead to the destruction of part of this thriving community market in favour of yet more office space. There was little question of whether the market was going to be retained. The real questions have always been in what form it would be retained, and who would benefit most.” Darren Johnson, Leader of the GLA Green Party, after the Mayor‚s approval of the Foster building, 23/10/02.

Issues raised with the Council (LBTH) about the Ballymore plans

Some of the points made by Spitalfields Community Association (SCA) and Spitalfields Market Residents' Association:

1. Suggested a list of groups to be invited to "CONSULTATIVE FORUM" AS SUGGESTED BY COUNCILLORS at 2003 January meeting. COUNCIL'S RESPONSE: no forum established. Instead they want a "Town Manager" for "the area".

2. Asked about discrepancy in increase in numbers of A3 (restaurant/bar) premises. At January meeting Ballymore claimed an increase of 4. SCA claims increase will be 21. RESULT: there now seem to be NO restrictions on the number of A3 premises - potentially all the new units could be restaurants and bars.

3. Asked for value of Section 106 relating to Horner Buildings (Section 106 = planning gain, ie a payback to the community, via the Council, for losses incurred by a development). Reminded them that 1997 S106 required a local shop provision on the site. RESULT: Ballymore's plans now leave out local shop provision and replace it with off-site financial incentives, common practice by developers.

4. Inform Council of THREE SEPARATE PETITIONS OPPOSING BALLYMORE'S PLANS: 35 residents (36 residencies in Horner Buildings), 51 businesses in and around Brick Lane, 54 traders in Petticoat Lane.

5. The unknown number of new bars and restaurants impacts directly on Brick Lane's restaurant trade. Invited LBTH and GVA Grimley (Ballymore's agent) to undertake more accurate Retail Impact Assessment of
the locality. (Retail Impact Assessment includes shops and restaurants) RESPONSE: LBTH have undertaken independent Retail Impact assessment which appears to concur with one from Grimley.

6. Intended blocks too high. Specifically, the first floor of one proposed glass block will overlook the first floor of some residents' flats. Point out that the air conditioning and emissions on roof of new
units will also abut residential premises. RESPONSE: no change to Ballymore plans.

7. Serious concerns about noise, nuisance, vibration, pollution and damage to residential amenity. RESPONSE: Ballymore have not adapted plans.

8. Point out importance of protection of floor cobbles as vital part of fabric of Horner Buildings. RESPONSE: no condition attached to this.

9. Suggest proposals not in keeping with conservation areas as will harm character and appearance of area and residential
amenity - in breach of original planning conditions. RESPONSE: none

COUNCIL'S OVERALL RESPONSE:
APPROVE ALL PLANS


A statement on the demolition


Proposed office buildings projected from Bishopsgate

The Corporation of London enacts the planning permission granted in November 2002. These plans rest on permission given by Tower Hamlets in 1997 for the LIFFE building, plans which Tower Hamlets stated they had a "binding obligation" to pass. While recognising the fact that the Corporation of London is the owner of the site, the campaign to prevent demolition of the Market questions the way in which the Corporation's plans took no account of the character of the surrounding area, the loss of much-needed open space and the threat to an economically diverse environment
that forms an integral part of the local
neighbourhood.

Opposition to the plans was wide and particularly emphasised by a petition of 40,000 collected by SMUT. Arguments for preserving the building as part of any redevelopment were supported in numerous urban planning policy documents written in the past three years.

We question the decision to demolish for the following reasons:

The principal reason for doing so was the "need for offices" by the Corporation of London. The Market's position on the border of the City and the East End makes it vulnerable. The proposed offices were speculative until recently, and office space in London is plentiful and empty.

The Corporation ignored all requests for a new approach to the site, and was disrespectful of the serious and widespread concerns.

We question the Mayor's ability to act independently of the Corporation in its planned agenda of office expansion "to rival Canary Wharf". Why is he presiding over a turf war and not thinking about the growth of London as a whole?

The Foster Building is the imposition of a
characterless corporate environment on a successful local diverse sustainable community that is of equal importance to the success of London as a "world city".

In spite of the arguments put forward for the need for proper consideration of the site in the context of the local area and its wider importance, none of the authorities was prepared to question the Corporation's
agenda for building offices . Tower Hamlets, the GLA, English Heritage, CABE, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow Oona King, the Government Office for London, the Minister for Planning AND Norman Foster have all
failed the campaign. Contesting the plans alone, we were up against considerable forces, not least the Corporation of London as landowner.

If this is the way the Mayor and the Corporation act to bring about change in London, we all have to be alert to where it will happen next.