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Kieron Peaty Design Realisation Report City & Landscape Studies

City & Landscape Studies Contents Introduction Site Introduction 1.0

Urban Context

1.1 Historical Analysis 1.1.01 Urban Morphology & Development 1.1.02 Typology 1.1.03 Key Buildings 1.1.04 Precedent Studies 1.2 Political Analysis 1.2.01 Unitary Development Plan 1.2.02 Use Classes 1.2.03 Permitted Development 1.2.04 Conservation Areas 1.3 Economic & Social Analysis 1.3.01 Main Economic Drivers 1.3.02 Social/Private Developments 1.3.03 Key Social/Community Themes 2.0

Project Context

2.1 Site Context 2.1.01 Location 2.1.02 Site Profiling 2.1.03 Site Orientation 2.1.04 Traffic/Access 2.1.05 Adjoining buildings


The contents of this report centres upon Spitalfields and Banglatown, a ward located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Firstly, this report examines the history that led to the emergence of Spitalfields and Banglatown. Through historical analysis we cultivate an understanding of the early settlers and the condition of the buildings that informed their lives and shaped the local economic terrain. By developing an appreciation of this history one begins to understand the factors hindering the enhancement of the area and arguably contributing to its stagnation. Secondly, this report provides a critical analysis of the key factors defining growth in the area over the coming years. Through examination of factors such as the zoning of the borough, land use and analysis of local government policies towards planning and development, one appreciates the direction growth is taking, leading to concern that everything which contributed to making Spitalfields and Banglatown such a vibrant, cultural centre will fade over time. Thirdly, this report investigates the social factors affecting the area. Presently residents suffer from some of highest levels of deprivation in London and one of the highest levels in England. Through analysis of the local economy one begins to wonder how such facts can be true. Financial and business services, an industry which benefited from unprecedented growth over a 30 year period, are the largest component of the local economy. Thus one must consider that for the area to flourish, a point must be reached whereby residents are afforded opportunities within this industry. Alternatively, more must be done to develop other facets of the local economy so as to stimulate the growth of a balanced community. The final section of this report serves as an introduction to the project site that will inform the design & detail report. Within this section attention is paid to factors contributing to the design proposal such as site access, orientation and adjoining buildings, amongst others.


Site Introduction



Urban Morphology

Spital F

Spitalfields has had a long association with immigration dating back to 1685. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes led to an influx of French Protestant (Huguenots) refugees establishing themselves in the area. Given the location outside of the bounds of the City of London the Huguenots were able to avoid the restrictive legislation laid out by the City Guilds. By the end of 1687 a report found there to be 13,050 French refugees settled within London generally, but primarily around Spitalfields. As immigration in the area continued and increased it sparked the beginning of Spitalfields association with the textiles industry, particularly silk. During the late 17th and 18th centuries estates of terraced housing were built in the area to accommodate master weavers who were controlling the silk industry. Development of the area was not limited to housing, indeed the Huguenots also built ten chapels in the area. Concern regarding the dissenting Huguenots grew and in turn led to Christ Church being built on the corner of Fournier Street and Commercial Street in a bid to kerb Protestantism. 1.1.01 Urban Morphology & Development

During the 1840’s a large number of Irish found themselves out of work due to the Potato Famine. This was largely due to the Irish economy being centred on agriculture. Irish workers found themselves unemployed and perhaps rather inevitably they found their way to Spitalfields where the nearby docks were creating an increasing amount of construction work. In 1860 cheaper silk began to be imported into England following the signing of a treaty with France. This meant that the silk industry within Spitalfields became less prosperous and so the Huguenots began to move away from the area to be replaced by new trades such as furniture making, boot making and tailoring. The large windowed Huguenot houses were considered extremely suitable for the tailoring industry. Thus a new wave of immigrants moved into the area, the Jewish, drawn by the afore mentioned textile industry. For a great while Spitalfields was synonymous with deprivation. The area suffered from an outbreak of






Cholera following the demise of merchant housing as it became multi-occupancy slums. On 18th February 1832 The Poor Man’s Guardian wrote of the area; ‘The low houses are all huddled together in close and dark lanes and alleys, presenting at first sight an appearance of nonhabitation, so dilapidated are the doors and windows:in every room of the houses, whole families, parents, children and aged grandfathers swarm together.’ Towards the end of the 20th Century the Jewish were displaced as an influx of Bangladeshi immigrants arrived. Much the same as the Jewish immigrants during the late 19th Century, the Bangladeshi people were drawn to the area by the textiles industry. Nowadays, many of the Bangladeshi people have set up their own businesses. Predominantly these businesses are restaurants located on Brick Lane, which has led to Brick Lane becoming renowned as the curry capital of London.



commercial change: evolution has been a constant in Spitalfields history. Residents have never stood still. With each new wave of immigration came new skills or materials shaping the commercial composition of the area. Change gave Spitalfields an ability to regenerate and grow. Yet today the area faces change like none seen before. Capitalism has created a seismic shift in society on a scale larger than anything experienced during the emergence of cheap French silks or handmade footwear. Whitechapel High Street reflects the change of social agenda. The diagrams are a demonstration of the decline of services offered on Whitechapel High Street since 1841. The fabric of a once thriving shopping hub has disintegrated like so many other high streets. The demise owes to many factors, inclusive of but not limited to the emergence of online shopping, increasing numbers of out-of-town shopping centres and the growth of supermarkets. 1.1.01 Urban Morphology & Development

Urban Morphology

Arguably the major factor threatening Whitechapel High Street is the encroachment of the City of London. The City is expanding. An identity that has been cultivated over many centuries is under threat of disappearing owed to Spitalfields and Banglatown’s existence in the City fringe. Tower Hamlets Council has identified City growth as an opportunity for new development. Thus, one could draw the conclusion that the high street no longer provides services to the local community but moreover provides land to facilitate the expansion of the City.



Urban Morphology

physical change: the decline of services provided in Spitalfields and Banglatown has led to an increase in building stock rejuvenation. The diagrams demonstrate the extent of change upon Whitechapel High Street since the beginning of 1841. A high street once noted for possessing long, narrow plots defined by narrow shop frontages occupied by butchers, bakers and green grocers has transformed. Large mixed use developments have replaced those that were demolished. This cycle of evolution leaves one wondering whether the character of an area can ever be maintained if it is continually carved up to accommodate new incisions. Of course conservation areas go some way to protecting the aesthetics of an area but with each new building the genetics of a region are irrevocably altered. Whitechapel High Street is an indictment of the disparity created by new growth as remaining untouched buildings sit, isolated, as fragments of the past against a backdrop of new development.

1.1.01 Urban Morphology & Development



Urban Typology

clustering of uses: The map denotes the typology of Spitalfields and Banglatown. From the map one becomes aware that the predominant building use along main traffic routes is commercial located in the most part to the west and southern areas of the ward. Housing, private and social is clustered away from the traffice routes in the north-east of the ward.

1.1.02 Urban Typology



Key Buildings

Central House, home to the Sir John Cass Department of Art, Media and Design (London Metropolitan University) located on the corner of Commercial Road and Whitechapel High Street. The department is located here for the simple reason that the area has become renowned for being a vibrant community, home to a plethora of galleries, designers, artists, museums and cultural industries. London Metropolitan University website describes ‘the Cass’ as being ‘situated on the East London City fringe, a vibrant area recognised as a centre of excellence for both art and design. This unique environment of commerce, art galleries and design workshops exposes our students to the highest levels of professional practice.’ Building functions reflect the resources of an area, a school for art and design benefits from existing within a vibrant, culturally rich environment. The project site is located between the City of London and Canary Wharf, thus an education facility aimed at training local youths in management reflects employment opportunities provided by local resources.

1.1.03 Key Buildings



1.4: The function of the UDP is to: - - -

set out a co-ordinated framework for the development and use of land in the Borough for the next 10 years; set out the Council’s detailed policies for the control of development in the Borough; make proposals for the development and use of land and to allocate land for specific purposes.

1.5: In addition the 1990 Act requires that UDPs contain policies in respect of: - - -

the conservation of the natural beauty and amenity of the land; the improvement of the physical environment; the management of traffic

3.7: London’s labour force is projected to increase to slightly over 3.6 million by the year 2000, a rise of 170,000. Much of this growth will result from the employment of women and the selfemployed. Demographic trends as a whole in London indicate a shortage of 16-19 year olds in the early 1990s. In contrast to the rest of London, Tower Hamlets has a growing population, with population forecasts indicating a continued growth in the number of school 16-19 year olds. Thus, Tower Hamlets is well placed to play an increasingly important role in meeting London’s labour demands. 4.7: LPAC is a statutory body set up in November 1986 as a

1.2.01 Unitary Development Plan (UDP)

consequence of the abolition of the GLC. One of its tasks is to advise the Government on strategic planning issues in London. In October 1988 Strategic Planning Advice for London (Advice) was published, the result of studies and wide consultation into the planning needs of London. This document was agreed unanimously by the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London. When preparing Guidance the Government took account of this Advice. This Advice sets out over 100 specific policies for local authorities to act upon in their UDPs , however, it also draws a vision of London which has four key themes: - - - -

London as a civilised city; London as a world centre of international trade; London as a city of opportunities for all; London as a city of stable communities.

7.2: The issue of equality of opportunity for all is central to the Tower Hamlets UDP. In a borough with such a multi-racial and multicultural population as Tower Hamlets, it is important to ensure that all members of our communities are treated fairly and equally. This includes people with disabilities, women, people from cultural and religious minorities and elderly people. Equality of opportunity is essential for the maintenance and further development of sustainable communities, in line with the Council’s Local Agenda 21 objectives. 7.5: The unemployment rate in Tower Hamlets is currently the second highest in London and is one of the highest in the country. It is therefore important to ensure that existing jobs

U n i t a r y D e v e l o p m e n t P l a n (UDP)

are protected whenever possible. New jobs also need to be created. Depending on the nature of the new jobs coming into the Borough, training initiatives will be encouraged so that local people can have access to new opportunities. The Council will continue to promote the Borough as an investment opportunity on a local, Regional and European scale in order to ensure that new jobs are created locally for local people. tower hamlets udp What is the point of a document which states that London should be seen as a city of opportunities for all, yet also present Tower Hamlets as an area with one of the highest levels of deprivation in the country. What does equality of opportunity for disabled, elderly or cultrual and religious minorities mean? That developments should have level thresholds and as many affordable homes as private sale within residential schemes? These are not opportunities. People living in this area should be afforded the chance to use facilites provided for by the UDP that will enhance their prospects so as to facilitate the betterment of their lives. The majority of this document simply ticks boxes to satisfy criteria laid out by higher powers. These policies are suggestive without being decisive and provide assessment of the situation without ever truly engaging with meaningful guidance.



Use Classes

Area Zoning: The map denotes the extent of an area known as the Central Area Zone. This is an area defined in Tower Hamlets UDP as one that the Council have been advised to develop. As such policies ‘seek to sustain a mixture of metropolitan level activities as well as vital but more vulnerable uses which lend it [the area] unique character’ (tower hamlets UDP, p75). ‘The council will encourage Central London Core Activities, defined as those of regional, national or international importance, to consolidate in the Central Area Zones . . . By directing Central London Core Activities to these areas, occupiers will be able to take advantage of the existing range of activities and support services, including transport infrastructure.’ (tower hamlets UDP, p79). Clearly it makes sense for the council to encourage development in this area. It is a bridge between the affluent City and an area of deprivation. The area possesses land primed for development. Yet, the question is; how much of the proposed development of the area will be socially sensitive enough to benefit residents? Those living in the area would surely define employment opportunities and quality housing as important. However, Tower Hamlets Council seemingly define large, internationally recognised companies occupying office space within the Central Area Zone as important. How many of the residents in the area immediately adjacent to the Central Area Zone would gain work from such companies. Spitalfields and Banglatown is an area with high levels of deprivation, yet the City of London provides employment and significant remuneration for so many. To live so close to an area of such affluence should benefit residents in the form of meaningful employment. The Central Area Zone should be a progressive space that removes the barriers of classist society by providing opportunities for everyone. However, policy seemingly posses an undertone designed to maintain the inequalities that exist between those who occupy the City and those who occupy Spitalfields and Banglatown.

1.2.02 Use Classes



Permitted Development

Key issues: The eagerness with which Tower Hamlets Council aims to encourage regeneration, particularly within the City Fringe has been defined as 10 key issues: 1 - strong & diverse business growth 2 - a balance of employment & residential activities 3 - supporting a vibrant leisure economy 4 - tackling deprivation 5 - protecting the built heritage 6 - quality & quantity of public open space 7 - reduce existing overcrowding by providing new affordable housing 6 - securing improvements to transport infrastructure 9 - local accessibility 10 - ensure regeneration projects provide benefits to all (tower hamlets city fringe area action plan, pp28-29). The desire for the fringe to become ‘an urban district’ that will be everything to everyone does appear naive in many respects. The probability of providing fine, outstanding new housing as well as modern office space capable of attracting global companies whilst maintaining the areas vibrant character is a task not to be underestimated. Developing the small business sector, the global financial and business centres, creating open spaces and cultural facilities such as new libraries and galleries and not to mention a flourishing evening and night-time tourism sector is ambitious to say the least, but who will truly benefit from all of this? The approach that has been adopted leads one to conclude that policies target too much and will arguably deliver nothing. [cf38 denotes denotes the project site]

1.2.03 Permitted Development



Conservation Areas

Conservation areas: The zoning of Tower Hamlets does not exclusively include areas marked for development. There are also a number of conservation areas. The most important in the context of the project is the Brick Lane and Fournier Street Conservation Area. Designated in July 1969 as ‘Fournier Street’ before an extension in 1978 and once again in 1998 when the name was changed to reflect Brick Lane’s contribution to the character of the area. The area encompasses the entirety of Brick Lane from Bethnal Green Road in the north down to Whitechapel in the south. Brick Lane possesses a diverse mix of fashion, art, entertainment, retail and start-up businesses. There were many factors that contributed to the character of the area, not least the legacy left by three successive groups of immigrants. Whitechapel High Street Conservation Area should also be mentioned. It was designated in September 1998. The area marks the end of the A11 round which Whitechapel grew having formerly been part of Stepney. Whitechapel took its name from the 13th century parish church of St Mary, owing to its whitewashed walls. The street frontage is a reflection of the consistently intensive use of Whitechapel High Street throughout the areas history. However, the historic frontage is now punctured by larger, contemporary buildings that are omitted from the Conservation Area.

1.2.04 Conservation Areas



Main Economic Drivers

Local economy: Looking at the economic drivers associated with Tower Hamlets provides a glimpse of a distorted economy at a local scale. The existence of Canary Wharf in the south western region of the borough is offset by the existence of the City fringe to the east, yet the economic composition in the remaining areas differs vastly from the services provided in either Canary Wharf or the City fringe (see the image of the left). Earlier investigation of Whitechapel High Street demonstrated the decline of older functions of the industry (1.1.01). Over the last 30 years Tower Hamlets has experienced unprecedented transformational changes created by the growth of the financial and business services. The bottom diagram on the left shows that the banking services are spatially concentrated whilst other services; tier 1 and tier 2, are spread more braodly throughout the borough which is reflected in the paralleled land use patterns. From the diagrams and other analysis within this report one must agree with Tower Hamlets’ decision to continue attempting to attract financial and business servies, however it is of critical importance that the development of this facet of local economy grows with the aim of providing maximum benefit for the residents of the borough. It would also be agreeable for other sectors to be developed and diversity encouraged to avoid the area lossing the vibrancy and culture that has taken so many years to cultivate.

1.3.01 Economic Drivers



Main Economic Drivers

Local economy: ‘there are now roughly 1.4 jobs per resident of working age, many of which require a skilled workforce. Employment is dominated by large firms and high-skilled jobs’ (Tower Hamlets Enterprise Strategy April 2011 p19). Given the economic growth over the previously mentioned 30 year period, employment has also developed to the extent that Tower Hamlets reflects economic characteristics of other inner city London boroughs. However these facts do not paint a clear picture of the truth. Levels of deprivation are high in Tower Hamlets because the job opportunities that exist do not cater for the skill sets provided by the residents. Thus 85% of residents travel to places of employment located outside of the borough, whilst the jobs on offer in Tower Hamlets are taken by those known as ‘in-commuters’. This imbalance has social, economic and environmental implications. As such there is a need to either provide the tools for residents to develop their skils so that they may take positions within the financial and business services or improve ‘the performance of non-financial service sectors and enhancing opportunities’ (April 2001, p19)

1.3.01 Economic Drivers



Social/Private Developments

Land ownership: Throughout the broad area of Tower Hamlets the profile of land ownership is fragmented. However, ‘ownership tends to fall within three broad categories.’ (Commercial Land & Property Study, Aldgate, July 2007) 1 - Not for profit sector bodies: • Local authority ownerships • NHS • Government Departments • Housing Associations/RSLs • Charitable and religious groups 2 - Private family, small investors and owner-occupiers • Historic family ownerships • Local owner occupied businesses • Small investor owners • Small-scale developer owners • Educational establishments owned land 3 - Larger developer and investor interests • Pro-active developer and investor owners • Funding institutions and private equity/finance houses • Optioned land (even if short term strategy) • Strategically held commercial land by the Corporation of London Throughout the last few years larger scale owners of development land & investment property have been the most active in terms of providing development activity within the City fringe area. However, little development activity has occurred in Spitalfields & Banglatown which is predominantly owned by ‘not for profit sector bodies’. The result of this is an area with large pockets of construction sites located to the east which seemingly move closer Spitalfields and Banglatown. This creates greater disparity between stock age and condition, which will presumably lead to areas of increased rent. As the number of new developments increase fewer affordable places will exist for local businesses and residents to occupy. Is the target to reduce social deprivation to be achieved by simply driving out of the area those residents that live there now?

1.3.02 Social/Private Develpments



Key Social/Community Themes

Tower Hamlets Deprivation: According to the ‘English Indices of Deprivation 2010 - A London Perspective’, Tower Hamlets is one of three London authorities with the highest levels of income deprivation in England, the other two are Newham & Hackney. This coupled with the fact that Tower Hamlets also has the highest proportion of its children in income deprivation (see top left map) paints a relatively bleak picture of the social standards of existence in the borough. Generally London has relatively low levels of deprivation in the domain of skills. However, Tower Hamlets, along with Lewisham is one of the only 2 inner city London LSOAs* to be among England’s worst ten per cent (see lower left map). Effectively the skills possessed by residents of Tower Hamlets are lacking. Surely from these few facts alone one could assume that if skill levels were to increase then levels of deprivation would reduce. Perhaps this is an idealised, naive outlook but how can this type of thinking not form a larger part of the council’s objectives. If residents were earning better incomes because they were employed in more highly skilled positions of employment then the council would have to contribute less money to support the area. *Lower Layer Super Output Areas - a small area within which specified criteria is used to measure multiple levels of deprivation.

1.3.03 Social/Community Themes



Site Location


2.1.01 Site Location



Site La yout


2.1.01 Site Layout



2.1.02 Site Profiling

Site Profiling



2.1.02 Site Profiling

Site Profiling



Site Profiling

site typology SCALE 1/1000

2.1.02 Site Profiling



Site Orientation

Sun orientation: the proposal site faces north east. The sun-path at various intervals can be seen above. The orientation of the site poses a challenge of maximising daylighting for the proposal. As such glazing will be used to the front and rear allowing direct sunlight into the building during the early part of the morning and later part of the afternoon/evening (dependent upon the time of year). The north wall of the proposal will accommodate individual pods that will benefit from natural light throughout the day, whilst the gradually increasing scale of the proposal from south to north will allow the front courtyard to be flooded with light throughout the morning and into the afternoon.

2.1.03 Site Orientation



2.1.04 Traffic/Access




Adjoining Buildings

Scale: Osborn Street is made up of varying widths of frontage, 19th century shopfronts in buildings of 2, 3 and 4 storeys. The area is predominantly low-rise, of 3 to 4 storeys. Generally the street scene along the western side of Osborn Street varies but does not exceed 13m in height. The tallest buildings are at the south western corner of Osborn Street and also the neighbouring building to the north. However, the scale of the City Hotel immediately opposing the proposal site is greatly taller than any of the buildings on the west side of Osborn Street. The hotel is approximately 22m in height. The proposal will be set back towards the back of the site as a result of the vertical scale of the hotel opposite. This will allow greater amounts of daylight to enter the building. The scale of the proposal is limited to a certain extent by neighbouring buildings as seen in street scene 1, however it is considered that the proposal could potentially extend above these heights,. This would potentially provide more of a bridge of scale to the hotel building.

2.1.05 Adjoining Buildings


City & Landscape  
City & Landscape  

Urban analysis and site context report. Spitalfields and Banglatown, London