Thumbs up for Lottery-funded makeover

Whitechapel locals. Photo: Camilla Luise Hemmestad

Dozens of historic buildings in Whitechapel are to be restored, with an award  of nearly £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery fund.

As part of the High Street 2012 programme, which aims to restore many parts of East London in time for the Olympics, the award was granted to Tower Hamlets Council late last week in a bid to clean up Whitechapel Market.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, said: “This project will give the East End a boost, ensuring its rich architectural heritage can be preserved for residents, Olympic visitors, and future generations to enjoy.”

Around 60 historic buildings, many dating back to the 17th century, will be renovated when the project begins in the spring. There are also grants available for building owners and leaseholders on the upper north side, from 197 – 317 Whitechapel Road.

Local market trader Amir, 35, said: “If it turns out the way they say, that we get nicer buildings, a nicer market and more room it would be great and people would be happier. At the moment this is still a dream though, as I cannot see it around me, but I hope it is true.”

Sandy, 35, said: “This area is not very nice. I work here, but I don’t stick around. Someone really needs to clean it up. Then again, all of London needs that to be honest.”

But other local residents are sceptical about plans to improve the area. A 53-year-old trader who has been running his stall for 17 years laughed when asked about the project. He said: “I have been here for so long and seen my rent go up time and time again and heard promises about cleaning up the area time and time again, but nothing seems to ever happen.

“The rubbish bins are full, rubbish is on the street and it is filthy. I now try not to eat food in this area. I just can’t.”

Sue Bowers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for London, said: “This investment will not only create a lasting Olympic legacy in historic East London, it will transform the Whitechapel area and make essential improvements and repairs.”

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