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Controversial tower scheme gets Town Hall go-ahead

PUBLISHED: 18:06 14 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:07 05 October 2010

Proposed structure in Bethnal Green-rd and (inset) artist Tracey Emin, an objector

Proposed structure in Bethnal Green-rd and (inset) artist Tracey Emin, an objector

A HUGE 25-storey tower has been given the green light by town planners in what campaigners say is the rich City of London's financial district encroaching into the deprived East End. Tower Hamlets council's strategic development committee on Thursday night approved the scheme which will overshadow Bethnal Green's famous Club Row market and Brick Lane

By Victoria Huntley

A HUGE 25-storey tower has been given the green light by town planners in what campaigners say is the rich City of London's financial district encroaching into the deprived East End.

Tower Hamlets council's strategic development committee on Thursday night (March 13) approved the scheme which will overshadow Bethnal Green's famous Club Row Sunday market and Brick Lane.

Committee chairman Helal Abbas ensured it got the go ahead with his casting vote for the 360 flats in the towering block in Bethnal Green Road.

In flew in the face of protests from residents, conservationists, community groups and even prominent artists such as Tracey Emin, Dinos Chapman and Cornelia Parker who live in the ancient district.

The artists sent an open letter earlier this week to London Mayor Ken Livingstone, calling on him to halt the scheme and the mammoth Bishopsgate development close by in Shoreditch High Street. They warned it was "development gone mad."

Their letter said: "The land between Shoreditch and Brick Lane appears to have been set aside for the City of London's use, a dense forest of towers up to 50 storeys high that will block our light and overshadow our homes.

"High-rise structures may be suitable for the City, but this historic area and its communities deserve an enlightened and creative approach to development, not a sterile, corporate monoculture."

Around 500 residents had objected to the scheme which will overlook the Brick Lane and Fournier Street conservation area.

English Heritage wrote to the Town Hall last month saying it would have a detrimental impact on the historic corner of the East End.

Bethnal Green & Bow MP George Galloway had already weighed into the fight over the neighbouring Bishopsgate development, another contentious plan just 200 yards away, tabling a Parliamentary Early Day Motion to save an historic railway power station now a popular bar called The Light.

He said: "No one is against regeneration. But there's no need for this historic building to be destroyed.

"Are the people of the East End literally to be overshadowed by the City of London, the richest square mile on earth?"

victoria.huntley@archant.co.uk

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