Locals protest in Brick Lane | Photo: Carole Vincent Locals protest in Brick Lane | Photo: Carole Vincent

Brick Lane residents are campaigning hard to save their community from profiteering developers, reports Carole Vincent

What does Brick Lane conjure up in your mind? Truman Brewery with its iconic chimney, maybe Curry houses, beigel bakeries, or the market stalls, street food, the rich cultural history of London’s East End through the ages?

Perhaps all of the above. 

Today, the Save Brick Lane Campaign was ramped up a gear in its bid to save this internationally renowned area.

For the past few years, thousands of signatures, meetings and representation to Tower Hamlets Council have failed to succeed in halting the proposed plans by the current owners, the Leboof family, to redevelop the Truman Brewery site even further, destroying the character forever by building a huge shopping mall. 

The Leboof family acquired the land cheaply and want to sell it to make ‘a financial killing’ by selling it to developers. This is profit before people of the worst kind and must be halted through proper consultation with local people and businesses, which thus far has not happened. 

A rally – including speeches from local campaign groups, residents, small businesses and housing campaigns, a speech from renowned historian Dan Cruickshank and a message of support from local MP Apsana Begum – made for a strong show of solidarity. People from far and wide, like myself, filled Altab Ali Park to show support, before a march to the brewery site amd a gathering with food in Allen Gardens afterwards.

Brick Lane was full of people from all parts of the country and further afield, soaking up the sunshine and unique atmosphere, seemingly oblivious to the probable destruction of the area.  And for what – a shopping mall and unaffordable properties to be developed? 

I personally have a very soft spot for Brick Lane and the brewery site. It is where I was born and spent my formative years. I love it and it feels like home. The smell of the hops and bakeries, the curries and wonderful tapestry of changing cultures, faiths, languages and food throughout the centuries.

The Truman brewery site, and the land around it, is now owned by the Zeloof family. The area is gradually being gentrified and the local people, businesses and historical preservation societies have had to fight off developments of this historic site of significance several times over the past few decades.

The rally and march from Altab Ali Park to Brick Lane saw a large crowd gathering in support and solidarity, many going away with knowledge they didn’t have before. 

Visitors to the area were shocked and saddened that the character and history would be destroyed, because it was why they had chosen to come and visit the area.

It has been a difficult year for everyone, including the businesses in and around Brick Lane, and for those who live and work locally, many of whose families have been in the area for generations, like my own.

I spoke to people from all walks of life about the possible redevelopment and they were shocked that the Council were not listening to the community over such an important issue. The area needs social housing, not social cleansing. Save Brick Lane!

Please join the campaign here.

If you care about saving & preserving the history of Brick Lane & Spilalfiels please share. In solidarity.

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