A new town centre scheme for Poplar, that would create 650 new homes, has been submitted to Tower Hamlets planners.
The project, by architects Sheppard Robson for redevelopers, housing association Poplar HARCA and housebuilder Telford Homes, retains the locally important Chrisp Street market, as well as working alongside key elements designed in the 1950s.
The local shopping centre was first opened in 1951, with designs by Harlow new town architect Sir Frederick Gibberd. It featured one of the first purpose-built pedestrianised shopping areas, and was linked to the Festival of Britain.
The market has continued to survive, with more modern efforts being made to provide shelter for market stalls originally in the open air. A recent RIBA London competition saw three practices bid to design a new market stall.
The plans drawn up feature a comprehensive mixed use project, fine tuned by reference to the local community via a thorough consultation. The heritage assets of the site are being retained, including the market’s clock tower. Around 650 new, tenure-blind homes will be created, the local Ideas Store library facility will be enlarged, the market gets a new canopy and there will be more retail and new cinema spaces.
There will be a new residential tower of 25 storeys, but this landmark should not meet local opposition, as the development will also replace an existing 22 storey block dating from the 1960s.
“Chrisp Street has innovation in its foundations, with the original Frederick Gibberd design sustaining the market for the last 65 years,” said Sheppard Robson partner Dan Burr. “Continuing this spirit of boldness, we wanted our proposals to be the next phase of exemplar urban design in the area, giving the market a new lease of life through enhanced community facilities.
“The fundamental challenge of the project was to weave together a broad mix of uses, carefully choreographing a sequence of urban spaces that are defined by a rich mix of architectural forms.”
LPA Perspective: This is absolutely the sort of project, well rooted in local consultation, that deserves to pass smoothly through planning approval and to development. It respects the successful elements of urban design from six decades ago, and replaces those parts of the fabric that have not fared so well.
Importantly, it is a project that retains the level of social housing already in the area, despite the involvement of a commercial housing developer, Telford Homes.
And the street market gets to stay – public realm that is really valuable, in an era of big retail. The project deserves to succeed.