"First UK women's history museum" revealed to be a Jack the Ripper "museum"

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2015/07/31/first-uk-womens-history-mu.html

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Do you think planning conditions should be determined on the basis of whether or not something is politically approved of, or on whether the site in question can cope with the numbers of people, has appropriate fire exits, transport plans etc etc? It shouldn’t have made any difference, in planning terms, whether the proposed site was a women’s museum, a Jack the ripper museum, or even something ludicrously offensive, like a bigotry museum or whatever. If Tower Hamlets were paying for it, I could see their gripe. As they aren’t, they’re only deciding whether the use of someone else’s property meets their planning guidance. Any council should know that.

Shall we remind Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe what Cable Street is actually famous for?

Let’s hope that he goes the same way as Oswald Mosley


Wow, that deception seems like quite a misogynist slap in the face. I hope they do something suitable, such as confiscate the property…

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Of course it matters. If I tell the neighbours that I’m building a museum to honour women’s history, it would help convince them not to object to my planning application. Neighbours who might otherwise have had show-stopper objections – right to light, etc – could, on the basis of my convenant to build a women’s history museum, support my project, or be silent on it.

This is an act of commercial fraud, committed against the council and against the residents of Cable Street. Your argument assumes the primacy of property rights, but property rights are entangled by externalities: when you build three more storeys on your property and put mine into shade, add a window looking directly into my bedroom, etc, you change the character of mine.

The whole point of planning permission is to balance the conflicting interests of residents and owners in a district. Lying on a planning application is not a matter of exercising your rights as a property-owner – it’s a fraud against everyone else in the process.

Even if you stipulate that there’s nothing illegal here, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong here. “I didn’t break the law” is a pretty poor argument for why someone should support your project – it’s literally saying, “The best argument I have in support of my project is that it’s not technically illegal.”

Markets function on good information. The fact that this museum is operated by a lying misogynist fraudster is a salient piece of information for potential patrons, suppliers and other parties in the future.


I think the issue is that it’s not clear from the article that this was taken into consideration by the council in the first place. The way I understand it, most planning commissions just look at the rough purpose of the establishment and what adding or subtracting floors would do for the area. Especially because most zoning boards and councils cannot predict or dictate the practices of the establishment. If it’s an area that looks to the neighbors for approval, then it’s more worrisome and deceptive. But if the council never looked to the particular purpose and simply thought “museum, alrighty then!” then it’s hard to really feel like it’s a calculated move.

In other words, I need more information, and the article didn’t offer it.

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Especially rude as Jack was likely quite a few people reified as a boogeyman by tabloid press.

All planning applications are contingent upon comment from affected neighbours. The material in your planning application is used by residents and owners of nearby homes and businesses as guidance for whether to make comment in support of, or opposing, the application.

In this case, I believe it’s likely that even people who opposed the expansion of the building might have kept silent because they believed that publicly opposing a women’s history museum would expose them to criticism – they may have not been so reticent if the museum was revealed as a “museum” devoted to a serial killer.


What would be kind of funny is if inside it were actually the museum he promised. It’d be a great way to boost attendance for a women’s history museum (sadly).

Regardless, this place needs a sign inside that says “This way to the Egress!”



Christ, what an asshole.

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This is true- but only objections based on valid planning considerations can be taken into account. I can’t validly object to your building a mosque, for example, because I dislike Islam, but I can because there will be traffic congestion, or it will cause nearby properties to be overlooked, or it might be noisy. Planning objections because you don’t like the subject of a museum, or because the developer is an idiot, aren’t valid and even if the planning committee were to take them into account, it would be overturned on appeal. It’s not a referendum - anyone with any connection to planning will know about massively opposed developments that have gone ahead because they complied with the local plan/planning regulations etc.

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I can’t speak to UK planning principles, but in the US, the use, form, and impacts on the surrounding are considered. An analogy:

A restauranteur wants to build an upscale restaurant on a city block already zoned for commercial. The zoning/planning board should be looking at traffic, performance (impact on neighboring properties), potential load of the business, etc.

  1. If the developer wants to change from a French restaurant to a Russian restaurant, there is little impact on the permitting process other than amending the paperwork to reflect the new name.

  2. The restauranteur figures they’d get better profits by putting in a McDonalds instead. The permitting change would have to consider the change only in context of the items they reviewed before, not “we don’t want McD’s in town”. So parking, driveways, potential traffic, lighting, signage, noise/smell, etc will be re-reviewed. The biggest change here would be the hours, traffic, impact of a drive-through, and later hours.

To me, this is scenario 1. Just because the subject of the museum changed to something less palatable and tasteful doesn’t mean the use or impact has changed.

Except this isn’t planning permission for a museum. It’s planning permission for significant changes to a house, which were approved when the owner said they would open a womens history museum on the ground floor and the local community dropped their objections. Now Ex-Google exec has his modifications and the community won’t get the promised museum.

This isn’t like objecting to the building of a mosque, it is more like objecting because the community were promised a mosque but ended up with Britain First offices.


Cory’s point was that a neighbor might choose not to raise valid objections if they were led to believe that the development was for a good cause. Just because someone was willing to accept real community drawbacks such as increased traffic or decreased privacy in the name of a greater social good like a women’s history museum doesn’t mean they’d be willing to do the same to celebrate a serial killer.


Well, yeah!

If I go to the council and say “hey, you let me get away with a bunch of violations, I’ll build you a shelter for people without homes” and they grant the exemptions becuase they think its for the good of the community, and I build a big ol’ boutique hotel it’s all on them, HAH, because my customers are indeed without a home for night, right? Screw their reasons, I got mine.


Or even the people actually liked the idea of a women’s history museum, and thought it was worth the expansion, not just that they were afraid to be against it.


Every city’s zoning is different, but in Toronto the recently updated zoning makes a real effort to limit where religious houses can be placed. So actually, if you wanted to build a mosque (or a church or a synagogue or whatever) in a residential neighbourhood you would indeed need to get the residents to agree to allow you a variance. Chances are that if everyone on the street wanted to go to your particular house of religion it would be easy. Not so much if they were not co-religionists.

It sounds like in this case the presentation was not “Can we build a random museum on your street?” but “Can we build a museum that you are actually pretty chuffed to see getting built and are willing to deviate from the zoning to see happen in your hood?” Changing the theme of the museum after it was the original theme that got neighbours on board is deceitful.


"The First Women’s Gastrointestinal Tract Museum’’

Tower Hamlets has so much building going on within it at the moment, I think it’s struggling to police the planning process. Coupled with the fact that London is pretty rife with shonky developers with an unbridled sense of entitlement.

I lived for two years on Redchurch Street, E2, in a basement flat with a signed lease through a local estate agent. We had gas and electricity accounts, and paid council tax.

One day a letter from Tower Hamlets Planning arrived asking who we were, and why we were living there. Apparently the flat had never been approved as a dwelling, even though it had somehow been zoned residential and had the appropriate council tax band applied to it for the 5 or 6 years prior.

After 6 months or so of regular visits from the council, the agent and the landlord, my wife and I could see the writing on the wall - it was not supposed to be a dwelling, the council would be deciding that formally, and we would have to move. We got out before we were kicked out; we knew we’d need plenty of time to find a new place, such was the lack of rental stock at the time.

The flat is no longer a flat and is now a hair salon. The landscape of the Shoreditch changes on almost a weekly basis. I think developers like this prick know that by the time the council get around to processing any gripe or claim from residents or otherwise, he will have a business which is doing OK, and a bunch of tenants paying council tax, and the whole thing will be eventually approved.

TLDR: the developer mindset is to do whatever the hell they want - approved or otherwise - and get the rents in and deal with any arbitration later. It’s the London way!

“1) If the developer wants to change from a French restaurant to a Russian restaurant, there is little impact on the permitting process other than amending the paperwork to reflect the new name.”

What if the area has a high number of, say, Ukranian and other refugees who might have major issues with this change, and the council needs to reassess due to a higher likelihood of higher crime and disturbance around the area as a result? Impact on the community might not be merely down to “it’s a restaurant”. Or, what if there’s already 3 Russian restaurants on that street and but no European restaurant and the reason why the planning was approved is to try and introduce more diversity to the area? There’s a reason why the usage should be considered.

“2) The restauranteur figures they’d get better profits by putting in a McDonalds instead.”

Surely, if the original application was for an “upscale restaurant”, this would be a large enough change to require reconsidering the entire application?