T here are two locations in London which would be the pride of any other great city in the world, yet facing an imminent threat to their survival. These are the Latin Village in Seven Sisters and Banglatown in Spitalfields. There are big differences between the two, they also have a lot in common. Both are renowned places for their ethnic minority populations, both are in historic deprivation areas and both are full of small independent businesses. and Seven Sisters have long been difficult areas with high levels of poverty, but ethnic minoritiesnics that gave London so much energy and interest made it home and made them hum.
The "Indian" restaurants on Brick Lane (run mainly by men from the Sylhet area of Bangladesh) are world famous, and over time. normal attract hordes of tourists, as well as students and office workers. The larger area has grocery stores, textile vendors and tailors who cater to the large Bangladeshi community. This is, according to Sean Carey of the University of Manchester, co-author of a recent project called Beyond Banglatown , "totally unique: there is no other place like this in the world ".
The Latin Village is a market-cum-comm unit center centered around an abandoned department store. Before the pandemic, visitors could show up for an empanada, to wire money, to get their nails done - or to find out where to find a job or rental accommodation. Among its admirers are the United Nations.
These places are living demonstrations of the importance of migration to London and the United Kingdom, and show how migrant communities can seize the opportunities with which they are presented and transform dilapidated neighborhoods into sites of activities, jobs and cultural interest. Yet in both cases, they suffer from a lack of imagination and official care. For centuries, Spitalfields has been home to waves of migration, from French Huguenots to Germans, Ashkenazi Jews, Yemenis, Bangladeshis and Somaconnections. Yet no blue plaque commemorates the South Asian sailors who built the area, nor does the area benefit from English Heritage or Visit London interest.
The last battle on Brick Lane concerns the redevelopment of the giant Truman brewery site which is in the middle, and where it is planned to install a new office high block as well as shopping. Local businesses are rightly concerned that this will result in higher rents but more customers and the decline of the area. For years, traders in the Village Latin have faced the prospect of having their site demolished and rebuilt by a developer - who originally had no plans to include their market. The developer is recently withdrawn , and the future of the region is now on hold.
Cities change and they should welcome new people and new energy, but their stewards must also respect the things that make them interesting and