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Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Wednesday, 3 November 2010
High street glory for Tower Hamlets

Daniel Fordham
Programme Manager, 2012 Unit, Tower Hamlets Council.

The glory days of the high street will be returning to Tower Hamlets as the borough harnesses the momentum of the Olympics to turn back the clock.

Whitechapel high street, seen here during the 1930s, has been the first to see historic buildings restored.
Whitechapel high street, seen here during the 1930s, has been the first to see historic buildings restored.

High Street 2012 - a major regeneration project along the thoroughfare (A11/A118) that links the City of London to the Olympic Park in Stratford - will see more than £11 million worth of improvements in the coming years.

These improvements will see a lasting benefit for the community, particularly businesses, for generations to come.

One of the main aspects of Tower Hamlets Council's High Street 2012 project is the Historic Buildings Conservation Scheme.

64-68 Whitechapel high street, the first to benefit from the High Street 2012 project.
64-68 Whitechapel high street, the first to benefit from the project.

This scheme will see around 100 historic buildings restored to their former glory.

The first buildings to benefit from this scheme were unveiled in September 2010.

The group of late 19th century conservation area buildings (64 - 68 Whitechapel High Street) have seen their shop fronts restored and decorative features that have been removed since World War II reinstated. Taking six months to complete, the conservation works cost approximately £460,000.

Work is now starting on the second set of buildings. Fifteen Grade-II listed buildings (82 - 124 Mile End Road) are being restored.

The works include new timber shop fronts and signage, repairs to brickwork and pointing, new windows, and the restoration of lost architectural detailing.


Can Whitechapel retain its unique character?

The conservation scheme is being funded by Tower Hamlets Council, English Heritage and the London Development Agency.

The third and forth phases of the scheme at Bow and Whitechapel Market are now both due to start in early 2011.

Forming part of a larger package of measures for High Street 2012, the improvements to the historic buildings will be complemented by works to the public realm that aim to revitalise and rejuvenate the area.

Whitechapel Market

Whitechapel Market will undergo a make-over that will include new stalls for the traders.

It is hoped that the improvements, which will make life easier for shoppers due to better footpaths and lighting, will also boost business.

The proposals also include an on-site market office, allowing better managements and support for traders.

A prototype of the new-look market stalls will be installed near to the market next month so that traders can comment on the design and ensure that the stalls meet their needs.

In October 2010 the Altab Ali park was excavated by the Museum of London Archaeology team. They uncovered remains of the original White Chapel with two phases of the church construction clearly visible. Photo:  Museum of London
The remains of the original White Chapel.

Other improvements to the public realm include works to Altab Ali Park.

This open space was once home to a 13th century chapel - Chapel of the Blessed Mary of Matfelun, better known as 'White-Chapel' - and this will be spruced up with landscaping and planting.

A community archaeological dig has already taken place at the site to uncover the area's history.

Taking place ahead of the improvement works, the dig has given local people the opportunity to take ownership of the park and become involved in the project.

Another open space to gain a new lease of life through the High Street 2012 project is Mile End Waste.

The aim is to encourage more people to use this strip of green space along Mile End Road. Plans include creating areas for play and providing better settings for its impressive statue collection.

Led by Tower Hamlets Council the project is being delivered in conjunction with English Heritage, Transport for London, the London Development Agency and Newham Council.

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