The East London Garden Society

Bethnal Green Gardens Area

Paradise Gardens

Notes of meeting on 21 January 2018

The first meeting of the Bethnal Green Group, held at The Museum of Childhood, was not well attended. Having accepted apologies from those unable to attend, we progressed with the meeting to explain its purpose.

The gardens within the Bethnal Green Conservation Area, have been in existence since 1667 during the reign of King Charles II and are arguably the second oldest gardens in London.

Two of the gardens, Paradise and Museum are grade II listed, as is the Library situated in Bethnal Green Gardens. The area is festooned with history, the gardens being made ornamental in the early part of the 1890’s. The present situation is that the library needs urgent repair with the gardens needing a better strategy for maintenance.

The meeting agreed that we should pursue a better environment in the area, with the Group being prominent in chasing this agenda, and working with appropriate organisations and groups wishing for a better outcome. The meeting also decided to form a chat forum using social media to forward these ideals and formulate a strategy for the conservation area.

Since the group is in its early stages, it was agreed that organisations and individuals who have an interest in the environment of Bethnal Green, should be approached.

Paradise Gardens, located in central Bethnal Green, is a grade II listed garden which has been compromised with the rebuilding of The Mission Church but has never been a paradise or a garden. For many years these gardens have been left to deteriorate by successive local authorities and seeing them in this state is upsetting considering what could be achieved.

Sitting in the Bethnal Green Conservation zone, it is comforting to know that since the Middle Ages, this part of the borough has been a focal point for all and should therefore be protected. The Mission Church is currently re‐building the northern part of Paradise Gardens, which means that funds are available for the regeneration of the area. A Public Consultation has been completed, although too few people were made aware of this, which is evident by only ninety replies being submitted. Indeed, when The East London Garden Society was made aware of this consultation about one week before it closed, the weblink failed.

The process now envisaged by Tower Hamlets Council is that the developers are to consider the input and then approach the Council with their view on the gardens before hiring a landscape gardening company to complete the regeneration of the gardens. Tower Hamlets Council has no expertise in protecting Grade II listed gardens and most probably, the developer doesn’t either. To our amazement, English Heritage has not been consulted, so the whole process seems like a stitch‐up. The question that must be asked is how will the Council succeed in protecting an important part of the borough’s history without the necessary public participation or expert advice from the accredited national authority.

If you’re not aware of these listed gardens, they can be reached by proceeding eastward along Bethnal Green Road until you reach the major junction of Cambridge Heath Road and Roman Road.