Planning Law

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Secretary of State dismisses Swan Housing Group's appeals against Tower Hamlet

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Last week, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government dismissed Swan Housing Group’s appeals against Tower Hamlet’s decision to refuse planning permission to redevelop the former Stepneys Nightclub next to the George Tavern. The proposed development was for a mix of residential and office units which would abut the George Tavern, The George Tavern is a public house and a grassroots music venue with a late night live music venue. It is a ‘destination pub’ which heavily relies on the custom at its live music events to run its business. The George Tavern was therefore extremely concerned that, if built, the future occupants would hear the noise generated at the George Tavern when live music was played and that they would complain about the noise and that would lead to curtailment’s on its licence which would severely prejudice its business leading to its likely closure.

The appeals were dismissed on the basis that, despite the almost unprecedented levels of sound insulation proposed, the new development would not create a satisfactory living environment for the future occupants as a result of the noise generated at the George Tavern. As a result, there was a high probability that the future occupants of the new development would complain about the noise to the Council and that there was a high probability that these complaints would lead to curtailments on the George Tavern’s live music licence and threaten its ongoing viability.

The decisions are a redetermination of the appeals following the quashing of the original decision by the Court of Appeal last year and come nearly 4 years after the original planning applications were refused by Tower Hamlets.

Harry Campbell of Harrison Grant acted for Pauline Forster, the proprietor of the George Tavern, in the Court of Appeal and throughout the redetermination of the planning appeals. A copy of the Secretary of State’s decision letter is available at The result has received substantial press coverage including: