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'Forest garden' plan to tackle air pollution in Brick Lane and Shoreditch a step closer

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:25 17 April 2019

Geoff Juden has won his battle to get a developer to agree to include a forest garden in their plans to regenerate an area around an old railway line. Picture: KEN MEARS

Geoff Juden has won his battle to get a developer to agree to include a forest garden in their plans to regenerate an area around an old railway line. Picture: KEN MEARS

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Hopes of creating 'the biggest urban forest in Europe' have grown after developers agreed to a garden society's proposals.

A diagram showing how the forest garden might work. Picture: GRAHAM BURNETTA diagram showing how the forest garden might work. Picture: GRAHAM BURNETT

Members of the East London Garden Society campaigned for years for a wildlife haven to tackle air pollution in Shoreditch and Brick Lane.

They argued a forest garden planted at the Bishopsgate Goodsyard development would also encourage wildlife and improve people's wellbeing believing it could one day lead to Europe's biggest forest garden.

Developers Ballymore and Hammerson told Geoff Juden, the society's chairman, that they had added a “forest-type environment” along the Brick Lane stretch of wider plans for a park.

Mr Juden said: “This is good news. We are suffering from a climate emergency. We have toxic air. The best way to tackle this is to have as much greenery as possible and a forest garden will help do this.

The Bishopsgate Goodsyard from the eastern end of the site and showing the planned park. Picture: HAMMERSON/BALLYMOREThe Bishopsgate Goodsyard from the eastern end of the site and showing the planned park. Picture: HAMMERSON/BALLYMORE

“The developers agreeing to this is a huge plus.”

The group had started a petition with signatories keen to link the former Bishopsgate Station to a “green” bridge over Brick Lane before the urban forest garden ends at Allen Gardens.

Plans for the garden include plants that would repair the soil with trees and shrubs growing alongside fruit and veg to be managed by the community.

Hammerson and Ballymore have just finished a public consultation on updated proposals for the regeneration of the Bishopsgate Goodsyard site.

A diagram showing how the forest garden might work. Picture: GRAHAM BURNETTA diagram showing how the forest garden might work. Picture: GRAHAM BURNETT

The latest plans will create an area of more than 4,000sqm at the eastern end of the park, dubbed the “high line” because it sits above ground level.

If the plans are given a green light they would see public space increase to more than 1.25 hectares, larger than at first proposed in an existing application.

A Ballymore and Hammerson spokesman said: “This includes a series of connected gardens, terraces and walkways on the “high-line”-style park above the historic Braithwaite viaduct, providing a wide variety of trees, planting and amenity space.

“This provides a framework for an area of the park facing Brick Lane, where a selection of plants and trees can create a forest-type environment.”

He confirmed that the companies would submit their amendments to the overall planning application “in the coming weeks.”

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