Aldgate area residents and stakeholders can look forward to huge improvements to the area with the launch of a new Public Realm Strategy and Vision by Aldgate Connect Business Improvement District (BID).
The new blueprint for the area has been created with key stakeholders across the local communities, businesses, and local authorities in mind. It aims to ensure the delivery of a high-quality public realm, responding to an evolving post pandemic landscape, an increasingly diverse visitor, resident and worker base, and supporting ambitious Net Zero aspirations.
The increased pressure on the public realm and the noticeable gaps between various improvement initiatives underpinned the need for a comprehensive strategy for the whole area.
The Aldgate BID was established in 2020, following a ballot of local businesses, with public realm ranking as a top priority to be tackled by the new BID.
Co-chair of the Aldgate Connect BID’s Public Realm Steering Group, Eco Zhang said: “The strategy sets out a clear plan for prioritising investment in public realm projects and curating activities to enhance the area’s character, and crucially, what role the private sector can play in delivery.
Long term, transformational projects are recommended, alongside medium and short-term enhancements, with the emphasis on the projects being implementable and able to deliver tangible improvements to the streetscape and visitor experience across the area.”
The development of a comprehensive Public Ream Vision was an early project initiated by the BID, and following a competitive tender, leading design and architecture firm Gensler was appointed to develop the new strategy.”
Michaela Winter-Taylor, from Gensler said: “Seeing huge investment in business and residential development has brought transformational change to the area. A joint-up approach to the ongoing open space improvements is crucial to ensure a high-quality environment that serves the diverse Aldgate community.
Central to the strategy is a detailed analysis of the issues and opportunities across Aldgate which enables a clear set of priorities for public realm improvement to be developed. Our design team focused on creating a more connected public realm, with a special focus on identified character areas. It was important for the team to ensure a real long-term positive impact on business and community, along with short-term interventions to realise the potential for change.”
The new strategy allows for phased incremental enhancement of the quality and perception of Aldgate as a strategic part of central London and will in turn continue to reinforce the area as an increasingly popular place to live, visit and do business.
A series of ‘priority’ projects have been identified to illustrate how the strategy’s interventions could be applied:
Gateway to Aldgate encompasses a series of gateway projects to the railway arch spaces at the southern boundary of the Aldgate Connect BID area. The aim is to establish and highlight Aldgate’s unique DNA and emphasize the link between Aldgate, the Tower and the River Thames. The proposed projects include several artworks and installations that could be carried out by residents and artists.
The long-term vision for Aldgate and Whitechapel High Street is to mitigate the vehicular impact on the High Street, make upgrades to the streetscape and create and enhance the place-making of the adjacent open space. As the main commercial artery, one of the desired outcomes is to reintroduce and reinforce the High Street spine across the local authority boundaries. There is also a need to improve general accessibility and connectivity of and towards the High Street.
To attract people back to Petticoat Lane, the area needs to re-establish its identity and USP. The strategy continues ongoing improvements already made by the BID and local community, as they will look to cement the food offer to create an anchor destination that will have a significant impact on the wider ambitions in the area.
Co-chair of the Aldgate Connect BID’s Public Realm Steering Group, Katherine McCulloch said: “This strategy is an important project that will have a long-term impact on Aldgate, with lots of input and involvement from the BIDs diverse catchment of residents, community groups and businesses of all sizes. The strategy looks towards a positive future and brings together different organisations that are passionate about Aldgate during a time when the local community was regrouping after the pandemic.”
The strategy has been developed through dialogue with the City of London Corporation, Tower Hamlets and led by the local business community through Aldgate Connect’s Public Realm Steering Group. The delivery of projects will be a collaborative effort between the City Corporation, Tower Hamlets, other statutory partners and the private sector. The vision is subject to further consultation, permissions and funding but aims to provide a framework for future projects, some of which could be led by the private sector.
Chairman of the City of London BIDs Strategic Partnership Keith Bottomley said: “We were pleased to be able to support the ambitions of this comprehensive strategy. It will help the Aldgate Connect BID area build on its existing strengths – its history, character, diversity and vibrant mix of large and small businesses – and make it an even more attractive place to live, work and visit. It will help attract and co-ordinate investment and public realm improvements in this part of the City and the East End, and help drive our post-pandemic recovery.”