Bethnal Green Gardens demolition plans spark controversy

Plans for a new bicycle park in Bethnal Green Gardens have sparked controversy after Tower Hamlets council failed to declare that the park is on the English Heritage register in its application.

The proposals include the demolition of the toilet block in the historic Museum Gardens to make way for a new bicycle park, in order to reduce the number of bicycles locked to railings outside Bethnal Green underground station.

Tom Ridge, who campaigned for the Gardens to be added to the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens in 2003, has written to the planning officer in charge of the application, Shahara Ali-Hempstead, to register his opposition.

He wrote: “The application ignores the fact that the toilet block is part of Museum Gardens - and Museum Gardens is on the English Heritage Register of Historic Parks and Gardens.

“The proposed reuse of the toilet block site appears to have been driven more by the availability of funds for improving bicycle provision than a genuine desire to provide facilities without destroying the special character of this part of Bethnal Green Gardens.”

The application, lodged in July, is currently under consideration and may be given the go-ahead unless at least 20 people raise an objection by October 18.

A council spokeswoman confirmed that several people had registered their opposition to the plans.

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She said: “All planning applications are considered against various planning policies and officers are in the process of assessing the planning merits of the proposed development.

“The public consultation is scheduled to end on 18 October, after which the council will take a view on the planning merits of the scheme, taking into account any heritage issues, representations received and any other relevant considerations.”

Feedback on the proposals can be submitted here: