Page last updated at 14:56 GMT, Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Brick Lane arches plan criticised by residents

By Andy Dangerfield
BBC News

planned arches would sit at each end of Brick Lane
The planned arches would sit at each end of Brick Lane

A plan to install headscarf-shaped arches at both ends of east London's Brick Lane has been criticised by local artists and residents.

The arches are part of a £1.85m "cultural trail" proposed by Tower Hamlets Council for the street.

But local residents, including artist Tracey Emin, have said the plans are culturally insensitive.

They say the design is similar to a Muslim hijab, rather than representing the area's diverse communities.

Tower Hamlets Council said the £1.85m scheme for the "cultural trail" included the arches, a tower and information boards that would highlight the history of the area.

It also said the trail along the street, which is known for its curry restaurants, art venues and trendy bars, would attract more tourists to the area.

The council has extended the deadline for complaints to 22 February.

'Territorialisation'

Tracey Emin, who lives just off Brick Lane, wrote a letter to the council, saying: "I sincerely object to these proposals… the proposed material has no relevance to the heritage of the area or its future.

"I understand that the Jewish East End Celebration Society does not approve the concept overall and neither do the Spitalfields Trust nor the Spitalfields Society, as stated in the review of the consultation.

The cultural path aims to attract tourists to the area and boost local businesses and the economy
Tower Hamlets spokeswoman

"I am shocked to learn that the scheme is budgeted at £2m and I strongly feel that rubbish collections, vermin control, education and improved policing are more important to resolve."

Local artist Brad Lochore said: "It seems absurd to be putting out the sign of a hijab.

"These are symbols of domination and repression. It's the wrong sign and it will mean trouble. Its territorialisation for one minority group. And that's unacceptable."

Will Palin, secretary of Save Britain's Heritage, who was speaking as a local resident, said: "It is clearly based on a head scarf which does not represent the breadth and rich diversity of the area.

"The design is pointless and expensive when there are crumbling historic buildings in the area, desperate for funds."

According to Tower Hamlets, the gates represent the diverse communities in the area who have historically worn headscarves, including some members of the Jewish community and the Huguenots, as well as some Muslim residents.

"The gates represent lots of different communities and how diverse and special Tower Hamlets is," a council spokeswoman said.

"The cultural path aims to attract tourists to the area and boost local businesses and the economy."



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