Planning the future of Tower Hamlets: what do local people think?

Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets. Pic: Aisha Majid

Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets. Pic: Aisha Majid

The latest in a series of public consultations on Tower Hamlets’ new local plan will take place this Wednesday at the Ideas Store in Whitechapel.

The plan will set out the Borough’s vision and framework for the next ten to fifteen years, addressing needs and opportunities in relation to housing, the economy, community facilities, infrastructure and environment.

The borough has continued to see major changes. The local population has increased 13 per cent in the last five years. Despite some affordable housing efforts, median rents increased 8 per cent from the first quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016.

The chart below shows the borough’s population and job projections to 2031 based on data from the Greater London Authority.

The draft plan under the consultation emphasises quality of life, families and affordable housing.

Some of the key proposals include prioritising genuinely affordable homes through council-backed initiatives and private developments. Developments should contribute towards infrastructure provision in the borough, which is at or near capacity.

Improving air quality is a priority, as is encouraging workspaces that meet the needs of different occupiers. The consultation plans to support new sports facilities and help stop the loss of existing pitches.

ELL took to the streets to ask those living or working in the borough their opinion on the key local challenges.


Carlotta Loi, 32, designer


“There is a lack of green space in Tower Hamlets – it’s not like the other areas in London. The roads here are also dirtier than other places, even though Tower Hamlets is in a central zone.”


Raj Chawla, 71, small business owner

“The council has got to support small businesses. I’m not against minimum wage but if the businesses don’t make enough money how can we pay workers? The council needs to encourage small businesses in the area. A lot of the independent ones are already closing. Some make money, but not all. Unless the council has a plan to wipe out small businesses, they need to do something!


Kemville Brown, 35, hospitality worker

“Housing and employment. That’s standard in any borough. Here, specifically, the council needs to address the homelessness in the borough. It’s known for drugs and drink. More affordable housing and better counselling could help alleviate the homelessness issue.”


Jamie Ashton, 30, design technologist

“The main issue here is housing. There is a mass housing shortage in all of London. I haven’t lived in Tower Hamlets for a while, but I lived before in Bromley-by-Bow. Housing issues are probably going to get worse. Brexit is going to affect it, but I’m not sure how.”

The draft will be open to comments until January 2. Anyone living, working or studying in Tower Hamlets can also join the local plan consultations online. The final plan will be ready in Autumn 2017.

Photos by Aisha Majid

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