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Revamp plans put East End shops’ future in doubt

January 17, 2010

From the East London Advertiser

EAST End shopkeepers who fear they are being forced out by plans to redevelop Tower Hamlets biggest estate held a press conference today after receiving backing from MP George Galloway.

They are also planning to hand in a petition to Tower Hamlets against plans to knock down their shopping parade on Stepney’s Ben Jonson Road, as part of plans to redevelop the Ocean Estate.

The traders say they sought support from their local Respect MP and councillor Abjol Miah, who attended the meeting at the back of a sari fabric shop, after the council failed to clarify their future.

Shopkeeper and secretary of the Ocean Business Association, Ahbab Miah, said: “It’s affecting us, our staff and their families morally and mentally because we don’t know if we will be offered alternative shop premises and whether we will be able to move back in once the new shop units have been built. We cannot plan our business future because of this uncertainty.” He said around 15 shops with up to 75 owners and workers were affected.

The traders also said they are unsure whether they will receive compensation if having to vacate their shops.

Their petition is calling for the block of shops to be renovated instead of demolished. If this is not possible they are demanding clarification over compensation and whether they can return to their shops. They also want assurances that any rent increases once the new block is built are reasonable and are calling for greater transparency over the development plans.

Under the redevelopment plans the shopkeepers say they would have to vacate their shops by 2011 and don’t believe the new shop units would be ready until five years later.

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