Skip to content

A Judicial Review At The High Court For The Bethnal Green Mulberry

January 24, 2021
by the gentle author


I am overjoyed to announce that our campaign – under the patronage of Dame Judi Dench – has succeeded in obtaining a Judicial Review at the High Court for Tower Hamlets Council’s decision to permit Crest Nicholson’s redevelopment of the former London Chest Hospital, which includes digging up the more-than-four-hundred-year-old Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree.

This means we can proceed to a full hearing if we can raise £10,000. As a gesture of gratitude, we are offering rooted cuttings of Shakespeare’s Mulberry Tree (as rescued by David Garrick in 1770) to everyone who contributes £100 or more to our legal fund. This is a once in a lifetime chance to acquire a cutting of Shakespeare’s Mulberry and enjoy a living connection to the world’s greatest writer.

Last year, thanks to the support of you – the readers of Spitalfields Life – we employed top environmental lawyers Harrison Grant to draw up the grounds for Judicial Review. We submitted these to the council to give them the opportunity to withdraw their decision but they refused. Consequently, we have no choice but to go to the High Court if we are to save the historic Bethnal Green Mulberry and stop this bad development.

Under planning law, ‘wholly exceptional reasons’ are required to sacrifice a veteran tree of the protected status of the Bethnal Green Mulberry. Yet Tower Hamlets Council gave permission for the tree to be dug up – which will almost certainly kill it – for the sake of a bog-standard block of luxury flats.

This is part of an overblown development with an unacceptably low level of ‘affordable’ flats in which the social housing will be accessed by a separate ‘poor gate.’ As well as the Bethnal Green Mulberry, the developers want to dig up a large number of mature trees on the site, blighting the Victoria Park Conservation Area for generations to come.

The pandemic has taught us we must show respect for Nature and in future we should avoid building densely-crowded housing.




The appalling development proposed by Crest Nicholson in the Victoria Park Conservation Area

Dame Judi Dench is patron of our scheme to Save the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Nurses dance around the Bethnal Green Mulberry in celebration of its new growth in 1944 after it was hit by a bomb (Courtesy of the Royal London Hospital Archives)


As a gesture of thanks to our supporters we are offering cuttings from this Mulberry, which is from a scion of William Shakespeare’s Mulberry rescued by David Garrick when it was cut down in 1770.


Click here to read my feature in The Evening Standard about the scandal of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Click here to read my feature in The Daily Telegraph about the scandal of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Read more here about the Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Fate of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Bethnal Green Mulberry

A Letter to Crest Nicholson

A Reply From Crest Nicholson

The Reckoning With Crest Nicholson



11 Responses leave one →
  1. Boudica Redd permalink
    January 24, 2021

    Oh bravo well done its so important that we save our great things to be enjoyed by future generations to enjoy

  2. Sofia permalink
    January 24, 2021

    These days you are the only person who brings good news.

  3. Jill Wilson permalink
    January 24, 2021

    Agreed – the pandemic has really made us realise just how important Nature is, and has made this campaign seem even more relevant and important…

    Let’s hope this round of fundraising is as successful as the last one and that the beloved mulberry tree can be saved as a symbol of hope and regeneration for generations to come.

  4. Peter permalink
    January 24, 2021

    This is good news – well done all concerned. It is so important to protect our heritage for the benefit of future generations.

  5. Amanda permalink
    January 24, 2021

    Congratulations on such perseverance !
    Especially heartwarming progress after breaking your arm in support of this heady campaign GA.

    Yes. Supporting nature + wildlife is paramount now.

    For donating funds, sadly there’s no PAYPAL option for those not wishing to input full bank card details on the internet.

    Posting a Fundraisers
    Bank account number and
    Sort code
    may enable more (perhaps those without debit cards) to donate,
    or by cash at the Post Office to an official account.

    Just an idea for speedily achieving the max possible.

    Many thanks so far GA !

    Thanks also to actor Dame Judy – so admired.

  6. Linda Granfield permalink
    January 24, 2021

    Glad to see the next step to save the mulberry tree has being taken.
    Blind developers! Bah, humbug!

    Has the Whitechapel Bell Foundry finally been saved?

  7. Joyce Hampton permalink
    January 24, 2021

    Good afternoon,

    I have just signed and pledged money for the fight, I am with you 100% we must saved this tree and protect the area as well as the planet.

    I am happy to help in whatever way I can. Just let me know.

  8. Georgina Briody permalink
    January 25, 2021

    So important this tree is saved and unharmed, mankind can’t keep destroying everything in its path when it wants to.

    Feel so strongly have signed and pledged money to help in the fight for this tree.

  9. Kathleen Callaghan permalink
    January 25, 2021

    When will our trees be safe ? Progress and development so often whitewashes nature, chipping away at its beauty. Tree lined avenues destroyed to make way for bus lanes! Housing developments leaving a massive footprint on what was once lush surroundings. Trees ripped out to make way for square unsightly boxes.

  10. RJG permalink
    January 26, 2021

    It would be a disgrace if that very old tree was cut down.

  11. James Mather permalink
    January 28, 2021

    I do hope that this won’t be yet another thing offered in sacrifice to the gods of people who know the price of everything but the value of nothing.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS