Gas holders in Bethnal Green at risk of demolition

Update 02/10/2020: Plans are moving ahead to dismantle the Bethnal Green gas holders after seven out of eight members of Tower Hamlets Council’s Strategic Development Committee gave the plans the green light.

The Bethnal Green gas holders are currently being faced with deconstruction.

The National Grid, which currently owns these gas holders as well as around 500 others nationwide, is taking part in a joint venture with the Berkeley Group to redevelop the land on which the structures stand. The project, titled St William, is currently aiming to redevelop 76 of them, including those in Bethnal Green.

These gas holders by Regent’s Canal were both built in the 19th century, the smaller one in 1866 and the larger in 1889, as by-products of the Industrial Revolution. Though both have been decommissioned since the late 1990s, they have become a familiar part of the area’s skyline.

The current state of the gas holders means they will require some form of conservation in the near future which would come at considerable cost to the National Grid whereas tearing them down would enable them to sell the land and metal they’re made of.

As a result, many fear that any redevelopment by the St William Property Developers will mean the total deconstruction of the structures.

The East End Waterway Group have challenged St William on the prospective plans on a number of grounds, including the gas holders being within the Tower Hamlets’ Conservation Area over Regent’s Canal.

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets Council has said ‘The area… was given conservation area status to protect it by the council in 2008. However, the structures are owned by the National Grid, and disposal of them is decided through consultation with English Heritage and a final decision by the secretary of state.’

Public consultations with St William about the gas holders took place in the Redeemed Christian Church of God, 7-8 The Oval, Bethnal Green, E2 9DT, on Saturday 11 May, Monday 12 May, and Tuesday 13 May.

From these, many aim to have the gas holders be left as they are while others hope for an outcome similar to that of King’s Cross where the gas holder was removed from its initial location, refurbished, and reinstalled closer to St. Pancras with the added functionality of a green in the middle, open to the public.

For more about local redevelopment, see the plans for changes to Bow’s streets.

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