Mayor unveils new park in the heart of the city

19 March 2010

Fountain, flowers, and one of the longest wooden benches in London replace traffic-clogged street

A congested city street has been transformed into a green oasis of calm, as Mayor of London Boris Johnson today opened Braham Street Park, built on a site formerly occupied by the Aldgate gyratory traffic system.
 
The new 160 metre long public space will aid the regeneration of the Aldgate area, and includes grassed and planted areas, a fountain, and one of the longest continuous wooden public benches in London. It creates a new community resource and gives local residents much –needed additional green space.
 
The project is part of the Mayor of London’s Great Outdoors programme, a pan-London plan to improve streets, roads, squares, and green spaces, supported by a commitment of £220 million over three years. It is also the first completed project under the banner of High Street 2012, a programme to improve the main street that connects the City, and the Olympic and Paralympic venues at Stratford. The park was funded by a £2 million contribution from local developer Tishman Speyer, secured through planning obligations to Tower Hamlets Council who partnered the project alongside Design for London, and £350,000 from the London Development Agency.
 
Braham Street will host a series of community events introducing local people to their new park. Tower Hamlets council has organised bike and kayak simulators, a climbing wall, arts and crafts and other activities to keep children from nearby schools and beyond entertained across the opening weekend on Saturday 20 March and Sunday 21 March .
 
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "The historic district in which this new park sits, where the East End borders London’s financial hub, has long been in need of some love and attention. This green oasis gives the local community an attractive new public space – a beautified relaxing place for all where once there was a traffic-clogged street. This is exactly the kind of transformation that we are replicating across London ahead of 2012 and beyond – improving the local environment, and bringing formerly disused or underused spaces back to life for Londoners to enjoy." 
 
London Development Agency Deputy Chief Executive, Peter Bishop, said: "High Street 2012 will create great improvements to the route from the City to Stratford in East London. The first is Braham Street Park in Aldgate a new breathing space close to the City, where it was once a stretch of urban motorway.  This is the start of the improvements along the route that will create a Great Space - a place Londoners can share with the world during the Olympics and beyond."

Lutfur Rahman, Leader of Tower Hamlets Council said:  "This is an important milestone for High Street 2012 - a key project that will significantly contribute to the regeneration of some of the most deprived areas within Tower Hamlets. Enabled by our role as a Host Borough for London 2012, it promises to greatly improve destinations along the route for existing communities, and create a sought-after destination for those that want to be close to the action in 2012 and beyond."
 
Michael Spies, Senior Managing Director Europe, Tishman Speyer, said: "It is very gratifying to have been part of a successful public-private collaboration to create a new park in central London.  The vision for this project came initially eight years ago shortly after we acquired the property.  Through close cooperation and support from the Mayor, Tower Hamlets, TfL, LDA, Design for London and the GLA, this vision is now achieved and the local environment has been greatly improved".
 
Notes to Editors:
 
1.       Local community celebrations in the park are free of charge and will be held on Saturday and Sunday (10.00 - 16.00).
 
2.       'London's Great Outdoors - A Manifesto for Public Space' is supported by two practical guides, 'Better Streets' and 'Better Green and Water Spaces'. Together they set out the Mayor of London's vision for improving public spaces in London.  This will ensure that London's streets, squares, parks and green and water spaces are fit for a great world city, are enjoyed by everyone who visits them and most importantly, help improve the quality of life in the capital.
 
They are accompanied by an implementation plan that will see £220 million invested in over 50 public realm improvement projects over the next three years, funding for which comes from Transport for London, The London Development Agency and London's boroughs as well as other sources. The measures include redesigned streets, which can be shared by both the pedestrians and vehicles and reclaimed derelict green spaces and underused waterways.
 
The manifesto and guides have been written and produced by the Greater London Authority, London Development Agency, Design for London and Transport for London.  For further information please go to www.london.gov.uk/greatoutdoors

3.       High Street 2012 is part of the Mayor’s Great Spaces programme, an initiative to revitalise the capital's unique public spaces. It celebrates and supports the good work being done across London to improve public places. It includes projects at any stage of their development, including those already part of other public space initiatives.  The Mayor endorsed the 36 shortlisted projects in October 2009. Projects benefit from either feasibility funding, design and procurement advice, or an award-as an exemplar public space. Support is tailored to the needs of each project.  http://www.london.gov.uk/who-runs-london/mayor/publications/environment/mayors-great-spaces

4.    In September 2008, the Aldgate East gyratory was removed and two-way traffic reintroduced on Whitechapel High Street.  This new road layout has made it easier and safer for cyclists to travel through the area, with bus passengers also benefiting from west and eastbound bus stops, helping to improve accessibility.