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London Underground blocks 'Stairway to Heaven' war memorial - images

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London Underground (LU) is continuing to oppose proposals to build a Blitz Memorial over the entrance to Bethnal Green tube station, even though the scheme has now won planning permission.

The 'upside-down' stairs, designed by architect Harry Paticas to commemorate the 173 victims crushed to death on the stairwell during an air raid in 1943, were given the thumbs up by Tower Hamlet councillors last week.

However, LU has yet to throw its weight behind the scheme, named Stairway to Heaven, claiming that the 'floating' memorial - which would feature the names of all those who died - could affect the stairwell's 'operational safety' because of the risk of possible congestion at the entrance.

Paticas is adamant that the Stairway to Heaven proposals would not cause any safety problems and is currently working with the Office of Rail Regulation and Space Syntax to allay LU's fears.

He said: 'We have responded to LU's concerns by only putting the names of the deceased on the sides of the memorial and by creating a commemoration space in the park, thus drawing people around the memorial and into the park away from the entrance.

He added: 'As the stairway forms a portico-cum-canopy over the entrance, it will [also] keep some rain off.'

Apart from LU objection, the scheme has been well supported and has won the backing of local politicians.

Meanwhile, the campaigners behind the project, the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Group, are still battling to raise the cash to make the proposals a reality.

More information can be found at www.stairwaytoheavenmemorial.org

by Richard Waite

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