Spitalfields ‘enhancement’ plans rejected by Tower Hamlets Council in face of public objections

Tower Hamlets councillors have rejected Foster + Partners’ plans for ‘enhancements’ to its controversial redevelopment of Spitalfields Market in east London

The architecture practice was behind the overhaul of the Grade II-listed wholesale market, completed in 2005 despite fierce local opposition.

The latest proposed ‘enhancements’ include the removal of the roof from one of the main thoroughfares and a new two-storey building with retail units and a gym.

Planners had recommended the scheme for approval but councillors disagreed and rejected the proposals at a planning meeting last Wednesday 18 April.

The proposals included removing the canopy on Market Street – which connects Old Spitalfields Market to Bishops Square – to offer a clear view of the listed Christ Church on Commercial Street.

In documents sent to the council, Fosters described the canopy as contributing to a ‘corporate and arcade-like character’ that is out of date with current retail trends.

In addition to being open to the sky, the new passageway would have included shop front extensions, awnings and street furniture to create a more ‘intimate’ colonnade-style walkway.

The proposals also included the narrowing of Lamb Street and a new two-storey building with an exposed structural frame, coated in dark red iron oxide, which would be home to nine retail units and a gym.

Additionally, the scheme would have removed approximately 200m² of floorspace from the Bishops Square offices to meet demand for retail units.

But residents complained that the proposed new building was ’garish’ and that the movement of cyclists and pedestrians would be affected if Lamb Street was narrowed.

There were also objections to the removal of the canopy, which residents argued would reduce the ‘flexibility’ of the market and leave shoppers unprotected from bad weather.

The councillors rejected the proposals by five votes to zero with one abstention.

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