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Whitechapel wins £1.4 million Heritage Lottery regeneration boost

Whitechapel Road is to be given a major makeover, thanks to a grant of almost £1.4 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), it was announced today.

This Townscape Heritage Initiative (THI) will become part of a wider £10m regeneration scheme named ‘High Street 2012’ that also plans to provide public realm improvements, community, art and heritage events as it rejuvenates the area.

Whitechapel, in the city’s East End, is a bustling and culturally diverse place. Its High Street forms the key link between central London and the Olympic Park and is currently undergoing major regeneration work to help create a lasting legacy from the 2012 Games for East London. The market dates from the 17th century and will be transformed with traditional shop fronts being restored and any under-occupied buildings brought back into use.

The project is one of eleven town centres across the UK that are to receive a much-needed boost totalling £14m, HLF announced today. The earmarked¹ money will help fund vital community regeneration schemes in these currently neglected areas.

This investment is part of the HLF’s Townscape Heritage Initiative which has committed over £200m since 1998 towards the regeneration of towns and cities that have suffered serious social and economic decline.

Sue Bowers, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the London region, said:

“The Heritage Lottery Fund is proud to be playing a key role in helping to revitalise once thriving towns and cities. The benefits are far reaching. This investment will help support the transformation of the Whitechapel area, making essential improvements and repairs that will encourage local business stability and growth, and bring visitors back into this historically vibrant area.”

Commenting for Tower Hamlets Council, Development & Renewal Corporate Director Aman Dalvi said:

"Despite challenges faced by many markets over recent years, Whitechapel market has remained busy. This additional funding for the facades and shop-fronts of historic buildings surrounding the market will greatly improve the whole streetscape, and compliment the other works taking place on Whitechapel Road as part of the High Street 2012 programme. This will sustain and improve local businesses whilst guaranteeing the future of this important hub for the local community".

The London work focuses on a cluster of historic buildings at Whitechapel Market. Tower Hamlets Council is taking advantage of the momentum created by the Olympics to galvanise a range of local stakeholders and make significant improvements to the landscape and economy of the area.

The THI covers a terrace of approximately 60 historic buildings, all of which have shop frontage. The repair and restoration to be carried out will create a considerable impact over a short period because of the timetable dictated by the Olympics. Work is due to commence in December this year with most of the buildings complete a year later. Eight of the buildings are listed Grade 2 and four are listed locally.

Work to be done includes repairing the historic facades, carrying out alterations that will replace out of character shop fascias, installing painted timber signs, replacing plastic windows with new timber sash windows; all of which whilst retaining the vibrancy of the area. These interventions will encourage better use to be made of underused space in the upper floors of buildings in the future.

The THI will be part of the wider ‘High Street 2012’, programme, extending for over three miles in Tower Hamlets, along Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road and Bow Road, which are key parts of the marathon and paralympic marathon routes.

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