Whitechapel vision clearer with Sainsbury’s development

Artists impression northwest across Whitechapel Road Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Artists impression northwest across Whitechapel Road Pic: Tower Hamlets Council

Tower Hamlets Council’s vision of creating 3,500 homes and 5,000 jobs in Whitechapel became clearer this week, as plans were unveiled to redevelop the Sainsbury’s superstore on Cambridge Heath Road.

The Sainsbury’s superstore is within the Council’s ‘Whitechapel Vision’ regeneration plan. The Council’s Whitechapel Vision seeks to dramatically increase the amount of residential and commercial development in the area, while also creating a ‘civic hub,’ including the relocation of the Town Hall to the Royal London Hospital.

“Whitechapel has historically been at the heart of the local community – a key hamlet of the East End with a rich history, as shown by the mix of buildings that still stand in the area today,” said Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, who launched the Whitechapel Vision earlier this year.

“As Crossrail arrives and the centre of London moves east, it’s important that we maximise this opportunity to transform the area for the benefit of residents.”

Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, has been brought in to provide advice and to work with Mayor Rahman to deliver this major regeneration project.

At the launch, he said: “Whitechapel is a thriving area and I’m delighted that projects like the Olympics and Crossrail have created the momentum to enable it to happen.”

But the Whitechapel Vision has not been without its critics.

Concerns have been raised about the project’s effect on Whitechapel Market, the sheer density of developments planned and the effect on existing communities.

In an interview with the Guardian, Mayor Rahman said that mistakes of the past would not be repeated:

“Obviously we have Canary Wharf to learn from. Although I’m a firm supporter of that financial district I believe it could have been delivered in a way that worked in partnership with the indigenous community there, the white working class community, and not forced them out.

“It’s about working with the existing shop owners and stallholders of the market in Whitechapel as part of what we do, then working with the big landowners.”

Sainsbury’s, one such big landowner, however, is key to the project.

They announced this week that they are proposing to increase the size of their superstore by about a third, while placing hundreds of apartments on top.

The construction of a residential tower towards the Cambridge Heath Road end of the site has also been proposed.

The existing parking lot will move underground to accommodate a new public square and walkway between Brady Street and Cambridge Heath Road.

Michael Adenmosun, Sainsbury’s Portfolio Development Manager, said: “Sainsbury’s is proud to be part of the wider regeneration that is set to transform Whitechapel over the coming years.

“Sainsbury’s proposals will drive this regeneration forward, providing essential new jobs and housing in Whitechapel and creating vibrant new public spaces for people to meet and socialise.”

The plans will be displayed in the superstore until Friday, July 18, with more information available from: http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/whitechapel.

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