The East London Garden Society

The Proposed Shoreditch Forest Garden

There is a plan to re‐develop the Bishopsgate Goods Yard in Shoreditch. A raised railway line runs east to west through the middle of the area and this has become overgrown with vegetation. A proposal was put forward to redevelop the whole area as a commercial property but to turn the elevated disused railway into a public park.

The current developers, Hammerson and Ballymore initially put forward a proposal that comprised of commercial property, but which left the railway space intact. This proposal was vetoed on the grounds that the towers were too tall and would cast too much shade over Shoreditch, so they redesigned the scheme with lower towers.

However, they now plan to build on some of the railway space which would reduce its value as a large green space. Even though they claim the amount of green space (public realm) has increased, it would be fragmented into smaller units of artificially managed spaces.

The Shoreditch Forest Garden Group, which was set up by The East London Garden Society, are proposing an alternative scheme which would see the entire raised railway land in the old Bishopsgate Goods Yard converted into a Forest Garden. Under this proposal, the area would be planted with a wide variety of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants to mimic a forest environment.

This forest garden would be managed by the community and would be open to the public as a public park. Our plan also includes a green vegetation bridge over Brick Lane to join the Forest Garden with Allen Gardens on the other side of the road and to eventually link this area to other green spaces in East London.

Hammerson and Ballymore propose to use the Public Realm as follows:

  • A children’s playground
  • Three hotels
  • A rose garden and other planting

In our view the current Hammerson and Ballymore scheme has the following drawbacks:

  • Fragmented space
  • Limited biodiversity value
  • High maintenance costs
  • No community involvement

Our proposed Forest Garden scheme provides the following benefits:

  • Many hectares of green space (public realm)
  • A high biodiversity value area
  • Encourages the public to walk more since there will be more space in which to walk
  • Tackles urban pollution and improves air quality in inner London
  • Helps London meet its transport objectives by getting people out of cars and walking
  • Helps London meet its objective to plant more trees
  • Provides the opportunity for a high level of community support and involvement

Required Actions:

  • Understand where the Hammerson and Ballymore scheme is in the planning process.
  • Develop a clear alternative Forest Garden proposal with detailed plans, development and operational costs.
  • Reject the current Hammerson and Ballymore scheme which dramatically reduces the quality and size of the public realm.
  • Submit Forest Garden plans to the London Mayor for alternative consideration.
  • Include the Forest Garden plan on the manifesto of the main political parties for London.

What are your views on the plans proposed by Hammerson and Ballymore?
What’s your view of The Shoreditch Forest Garden Group’s alternative proposal and do you support it?
Let us know by completing the Reader Comment form below.

See The Bishopsgate Goodsyard for its history and more information about the Forest Garden proposal.


Reader Comments


David Renner
Inner city folk do not experience the wonders of nature. A forest garden on their doorstep would go a long way to opening their eyes to life beyond the city.