As you can’t fail to have noticed, London is physically changing at an exponential rate. Turn your back for 5 minutes, and another new building appears to have sprouted. Now, on the whole, I find this quite exciting: new architecture, cultural monuments, transport infrastructure, and public space, can all add to the city’s appeal. London’s vibrant economy also necessitates the construction of offices, shops and restaurants, and then, as we are constantly reminded, new homes are desperately needed to house the endless influx of people wanting to make this great city their home. Understandably however, there are deep concerns about the pace of change, and about the type and scale of proposed developments. On the city fringes, small businesses and local communities are finding themselves squeezed out by new proposals, as old neighbourhoods face either demolition, or being overshadowed by the looming apartment towers marketed to investors from Hong Kong or Singapore. One such location on the cusp of change is Bishopsgate Goods Yard. Unsurprisingly, it’s proposal for towers 40 storeys high, has aroused considerable opposition. Local blogger, The Gentle Author, of Spitalfields Life has campaigned vigorously, aided by the wit of artist, Adam Dant.
When recently I photographed Tapas Revolution, on Bethnal Green Road, I found myself on the frontline of this latest wave of development. The restaurant is housed, along with several others, on the ground floor of a shiny new apartment building. To the rear, is Sclater Street, which forms the northern edge of the Goodsyard. This insignificant thoroughfare, perfectly illustrates the changing face of the city, with the old on one side, and the new on the other. With such stark contrasts, it will probably never be as interesting in the future, as it is right now.