A £900m ‘Masterplan’ for the regeneration of Whitechapel was approved at last week’s cabinet meeting, despite criticism from local campaigners.
Tower Hamlets council’s Whitechapel Vision Masterplan will provide 3,500 new homes and an estimated 5,000 new jobs.
The council’s Supplementary Planning Document, which explains how Whitechapel will be regenerated, was approved with only minor amendments to be made.
According to a report from the Tower Hamlets Corporate Director for Development and Renewal, Aman Dalvi, the Masterplan will focus on six key interventions aimed “to transform Whitechapel into a world class place to live, work, learn and visit.”
This would include a revamp of Whitechapel Road and also create a modern ‘civic hub’ that will house community and local services.
According to the Council: “The local population will significantly benefit from additional modern housing provision.”
Tower Hamlets Mayor, Luftur Rahman, who attended the meeting, said: “Over the next decade, as the centre of London moves east, Whitechapel is uniquely placed to benefit from increased investment and development, to become a key destination within London.”
However, campaigner Saif Osmani was not convinced the plans gave enough consideration to Whitechapel’s local businesses, particularly the market storeowners.
Osmani said: “When I spoke to the traders they said they were barely consulted – they are for improvement but it seems a bit unfair – if anything the market has been the drawing factor to that area for a long time.”
He continued: “With the changes the rents are going to go up so when I spoke to the traders that was one of their big concerns.”
“They certainly aren’t in favour of the local people – they are looking to bring new people, the plans need to provide for all sorts of people, not just new ones.”
Terry McGrenera, Tower Hamlets resident and political activist, also questioned the plan’s lack of consideration for market traders.
In a submission to the council, McGrenera criticised the section of the planning document entitled ‘Enhancing the Street Market’.
He wrote: “Whilst it mentions that the market is not achieving its full potential because of several operational challenges…. No indication is given how this can be provided by remaining in the present location.”
McGrenera continues: “By merely stating that they would modernise the design and appearance of the market stalls is really pathetic.”
The Masterplan was approved for public consultation in early September and has just been through a six-week statutory consultation period, which ended in November.