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Council u-turn over Brick Lane arches

Tower Hamlets Council has withdrawn controversial plans to build gates, based on the form of headscarves, at either end of Brick Lane in east London

The move came just hours before the authority’s planning committee was due to consider the contentious proposals, designed by David Gallagher Associates (DGA) as part of a new £1.85 million cultural trail, which have angered many locals (see story below).

A statement issued by the council said: ‘Due to the large amount of public interest shown over the proposed Brick Lane arches, the planning applications have been withdrawn to allow time to build upon the extensive community engagement and consultation the council has already done.’

One of the main criticisms of the proposed gates was that they only represented the local Muslim community.

Responding to the news, local architect Chris Dyson said: ‘I am extremely relieved that Tower Hamlets have withdrawn the proposed arches.

‘Brick Lane is one of the most unique and important places in London: a symbol of vitality, tolerance and cultural diversity. No one group, whether commercial, religious or political should ever lay claim to such a special place. The large number of objections demonstrates that people cherish Brick Lane and care deeply for it as a place.’

The council now intends to extend its consultation on the scheme.

Previous story (AJ 04.03.2010)

Brick Lane arches anger locals

Local architects are up in arms about plans to build gates, based on the form of headscarves, at either end of Brick Lane in east London

The controversial sculptures, designed by David Gallagher Associates (DGA) as part of a new £1.85 million cultural trail, are expected to be approved at a Tower Hamlets Council committee meeting tonight (4 March).

However, architects, along with local residents such as artist Tracey Emin, have reacted angrily to the plans, accusing them of only being representative of the local Muslim community.

The arches are culturally exclusive, stereotypical and an enormous waste of money

Architect Chris Dyson, who is due to speak against the proposals for the polished, stainless-steel arches at tonight’s meeting, told the AJ: ‘Many of us who live and work in Spitalfields are astonished at Tower Hamlets Council’s determination to proceed with a development that is so inappropriate, divisive, impractical and expensive. The arches are culturally exclusive, stereotypical and an enormous waste of money.’

David Mikhail of East End-based Riches Hawley Mikhail Architects described the proposal as an ‘ethno-bling monster’. He said: ‘It’s as naff as Saddam’s famous crossed-swords sculpture in Iraq. I know my father, who is from Iraq, would find it an appalling waste of money, just like I do.’

However, the council maintains the arches would ‘celebrate the borough’s rich diversity’ and boost the local economy ahead of London 2012.

Leader of the council, Councillor Lutfur Rahman, added: ‘It is not, and has never been, our intention to reflect the symbols of any one culture or faith over another in this project.

‘The Council did not prescribe an arch design based on head coverings when commissioning this part of the regeneration project and the proposal, which came from the architect involved, reflects the broad cultural diversity of the area.’

A spokesperson for DGA added: ‘Brick Lane has been a melting pot for centuries, and it’s story is a fascinating one. If anywhere justifies a cultural trail to illuminate this for passer’s by, it’s probably Brick Lane.

‘If you gave 100 different architects this brief you’d get 100 different solutions.’

To read the full committee meeting agenda click here.

 

Readers' comments (1)

  • Tasteless, inappropriate and a criminal waste of money.
    Samuel Pepys will turn in his grave if this is allowed to happen.

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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