The Turner Prize nominated YBA artist Tracey Emin has abandoned her plans to demolish a listed East End building in order to build a new studio and modern living space. The plans were highly controversial and caused protests from neighbours and business in the area in Spitalfields, east London.
Emin withdrew her appeal to planners in Tower Hamlets after the proposal was rejected at least once and the subject of conservation groups, who opposed the proposed knocking down the 1920s building on Bell Lane and replace it with a modern five-storey house connected to her studio, designed by David Chipperfield Architects. A council spokesperson said, “the only way to pursue the redevelopment would be to submit an entirely new application”. Emin said it was important to build a home adjoining her studio for “consolidating her way of living and working into one entity which is capable of adapting to new practices over the whole lifetime of the artist, enabling any artist occupier to live and work there for the whole of their working career”. The planning application had angered conservation societies and elicited almost 60 objections to the council, one of which described the design as “ugly, an eyesore and a triumph for money over the preservation of local history, style, and local aesthetics”. There were 11 submissions in favour of the project.
Henrietta Billings, director of Save Britain’s Heritage, said in a statement: “Great care was taken to design this delightful, modest building on Bell Lane to blend with the traditional scale of the narrow streets around it. Just a few hundred metres away from the office towers of the City, the historic streets in this area buzz with life thanks to their human scale – in spite of intense development pressures. We are delighted that the building has been reprieved.”
The group, which was supported by the Spitalfields Trust, the Twentieth Century Society, and other campaign groups, said the building stood at a “pivotal position” in the conservation area.
Tess Pinto, conservation officer at the Twentieth Century Society, said: “66-68 Bell Lane is a fascinating example of early 20th-century social housing in an area of London which is rapidly losing much of its historic character to redevelopment. We are very pleased that Tracey Emin has withdrawn her appeal and hope that any future schemes will take a conservation-led approach, as this unique building deserves.”
A Tower Hamlets spokeswoman said: “The application was refused by the council, and a subsequent appeal was submitted. On Wednesday, we found out from the planning inspectorate that the applicant had decided to withdraw the appeal.
“The only way they could take the redevelopment plans forward, if they wished to, would be to submit a new application.”
The Artist has been praised for withdrawing the proposal