After a tiresome four years campaigning, gardeners, artists, boat dwellers and nature lovers welcome the return of their community centre and wildlife garden.
The planning application to demolish Globe Town’s Canal Club community centre and garden was unexpectedly withdrawn on Wednesday 12 October.
Guardian of the garden Sally Hone said: ‘It’s such fantastic news, and it came completely out of the blue! We’ve been campaigning for four years and pestering the Mayor for ages but we had no idea it would all come through on Wednesday.’
In 2018 the site which includes a community garden, a community centre, a playground and a ball-park was selected by Tower Hamlets Council to be demolished and developed into a 13 flat extension of the Wellington Estate on which it lies.
Campaigners have been applying pressure on the Council to save their garden and centre for nearly four years, submitting two petitions, holding art exhibitions and spreading the news to the local community.
‘Everyone focussed on the garden because it’s so lovely to write about and take pictures of, but the campaign was really to save the Canal Club Community Centre, which has been closed to locals for the best part of the last four years,’ said Hone.
Disheartened, many campaigners gave up after two years. But the persistent voices of boat dwellers and local residents who use the garden were finally heard in the run up to the mayoral elections in April 2022, when Lutfur Raham (who was not yet the Mayor) visited the site and pledged his support for the community space.
‘We were prepared to get geared up for the next phase of our campaign and had even contacted a solicitor but luckily it didn’t come to that,’ said Hone: ‘We are a community of artists and gardeners … now we can finally get back to what we’re all about.’
The news has been met with enthusiasm online by those who visit this wholesome hideaway for a moment’s peace from the city.
Author and journalist Kate Thompson who writes about East London voiced her support on Twitter, stating: ‘This is the best news I’ve heard in a long while! Well done to all of you for your hard work and campaigning!’
Since hearing that the planning application had been withdrawn, the Canal Club has already been inundated with requests from local organisations to hold workshops at the newly reopened community centre, a testament to the importance of our shared local spaces.
Alongside weekly sewing clubs, book clubs, and the ever-popular pizza making Sundays that take place in the garden, the community centre will be used for art workshops run by Hone, keep fit classes for the elderly and AA meetings.
And as for Hone and the residents who run it? A well-deserved rest.
Hone said that the Canal Club will probably hold an official celebration at a later date, but for now they just need a break.
The garden will be open to the public this Sunday for pizza making as usual, which will likely be flooded with visitors and well-wishers.
If you do go along to share in the merriment, take a moment to appreciate the natural beauty. It does a world of good for the heart and the soul.
If you liked this article, you might like our piece about foraging in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
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