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Call for new Stratford conservation area along River Lea

Making use of the Regent's Canal for transport Making use of the Regent's Canal for transport

Saturday, January 18, 2014
7:00 AM

Calls have been made for a new conservation area to be set up along the Stratford side of the Lea River.

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Regent's Canal at Bethnal GreenRegent's Canal at Bethnal Green

It follows preservationists this week backing plans by the London Legacy Development Corporation to extend the Hackney Wick and Fish Island conservation areas after public consultations which have just ended.

The newly-established East End Preservation Society is supporting the proposals, with other backing coming from Save Britain’s Heritage, the Victorian Society and the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society.

The consultations led to a Fish Island residents’ petition with 450 names supporting the extension at Old Ford.

But now the East End Waterways Group, which is campaigning for a waterbus service on the Lea and the canals feeding into it, is urging the Legacy Corporation to draw up a third conservation area at Stratford.

Local historian Tom Ridge has written to planning director Anthony Hollingsworth calling for action before it is too late.

“Your proposals are urgently needed, given the recent tragic losses in Fish Island, inappropriate new buildings and ongoing degradation,” Tom writes. “We hope the Board will designate the extended conservation areas as soon as possible.

“It would be appropriate for the Stratford side to be included in a third conservation area, as bank-to-bank sections of the Hackney Cut and the Hertford Union Canal are included in the proposed extensions.

“This could include the wooded site of the Old Ford pumping station with its 1902 boundary wall and section of the Greenway to complement the extended Fish Island conservation plan.”

Hackney Wick and Old Ford were late-19th century and early-20th century factory towns in the Lower Lea Valley which was the largest waterside industrial area “when London was the world’s largest industrial city and the greatest port in the world,” Tom points out.

He adds: “It is the most ‘industrial’ part of the East End’s unique six-mile waterway ‘ring’ and we anticipate regeneration will provide a wide range of residential accommodation while also developing existing businesses.”

His Waterways Group is pressing for a two-way circular waterbus service along the Limehouse Cut, Lea River, Hertfordshire Union and Regent’s Canal, with stops along the way and a terminus at Limehouse Basin marina.

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