(P.83) Green oasis flourishes in desert of East End

by David Graves; The Daily Telegraph, 18 June 2001.

ONE of the poorest inner-city areas is being transformed into a new park which has brought a green oasis into London's East End.

The latest phase of Mile End Park - which will include a portrait gallery of more than 260 local people, including children and dogs - will open this week and the £25 million project is expected to be completed by September next year.

It is one of two public open spaces created in the capital since the war. The area was originally a sorry strip of grass bisected by roads - known locally as a "dog toilet" - which was created from slum clearance projects and land devastated by wartime bombs.

With half the total development budget coming from the Millennium Commission, the park, unlike the Dome, is a celebration aimed primarily at the local community and children, many of whom live in high rise flats. One of the centrepieces of the 90-acre park is a 200ft-wide tree-lined Green Bridge, designed by Piers Gough, which spans the nearby Mile End Road and creates an uninterrupted pedestrian route.

Nine linked zones along land bordered by the Regent's Canal will provide an arts pavilion, children's centre, a climbing wall, ecology park, terraced gardens and an electric go-kart track. There are more than 850 species of plants.

Portrait gallery: Eamon Burke Duggan, Annie Bungeroth and Anthony Lam with photographs they have taken for the Mile End project.

On Thursday, an exhibition of portraits of local people in diverse media, including photographs, textiles and video, will open as part of the new arts centre.

Jacqui Darby, who lives in the area, said the park had transformed the area as part of the regeneration project led by the Environment Trust, together with Tower Hamlets council and the East London Business Alliance.

Mrs Darby added: "The area was run down. No one can really believe how it has been transformed."


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