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Town Hall asks public what East End heritage to save

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:28 05 October 2010

TOWN Hall bosses who’ve been under fire for failing to protect heritage sites are now asking the public what they want preserved. A Conservation Strategy has been drawn up in London’s East End for residents to tell them what they want protected for generations to come

By Mike Brooke

TOWN Hall bosses who’ve been under fire in the past for failing to protect heritage sites are now asking the public what they want preserved.

A Conservation Strategy has been drawn up in London’s East End for residents to tell them what favourite building, place or historical item they want protected for generations to come.

Consultations have begun by Tower Hamlets Council which is also holding a public meeting next week.

“We have many special historical treasures that should be preserved or reused,” said Cllr Denise Jones, the authority’s heritage champion.’

“The strategy will ensure our heritage plays a part in regeneration projects and that it’s well protected for future generations.”

The former council leader added: “The strategy is a new direction for preserving cherished places and old buildings, a guide to decisions for the next 10 years.”

It is just three years since the controversial Town Hall decision to bulldoze Bethnal Green’s 100-year-old architecturally-unique Bonner Primary school building, a once-grand Edwardian landmark along the Roman Road.

It was demolished to make way for a playground, despite public protests and a fierce campaign by local historian Tom Ridge.

The council was also under fire a year later over plans to break up East London’s unique Bancroft archive collection dating back 400 years and sell off the former Victorian Mile End Vestry Hall it was housed in.

But it made a U-turn after a protracted campaign by the East London Advertiser which included a petition on the Downing Street website.

Today the mood appears different at the Town Hall. Marc Francis, cabinet Lead member for development, now says: “Our history is an irreplaceable legacy that’s created a distinct identity for Tower Hamlets, which is worth preserving.

“We want conservation priorities to be set by the people who live here and know the area best, because they’re the experts who know the historical gems worth protecting.”

The strategy includes buildings, archives, collections, archaeology, street markets, parks, open spaces, views, traditional skills, festivals and even personal memories.

The public consultation runs until February 19 with exhibitions at Idea Store libraries. A public meeting is planned at Oxford House community centre in Derbyshire Street, off Bethnal Green Road, at 6.30pm next Wednesday (January 20).


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