Traders at Chrisp Street market have criticised landlord Poplar Harca over the lack of information being offered about a £300m regeneration programme that will force them out for at least three years with no guarantee they can return.
Poplar Harca plans to redevelop the old market square and surrounding estates between 2017 and 2020, and replace them with a modern shopping precinct with cinema, restaurants, leisure and cultural facilities, and 750 new homes.
On top of the lack of information, the scheme has been repeatedly delayed since 2012 leaving tenants and traders living in uncertainty and unable to plan for the future.
For those that can return, there are concerns over increased and unaffordable rents and the impact relocating for three years will have on their business.
The majority of shopkeepers and traders we spoke to said they were against the scheme in its current form, but felt their views were not being listened to.
Many said the project was doomed to fail as there was no parking provision, and people will continue to shop at the bigger Westfield or Canary Wharf shopping centres nearby.
One trader said: “The area needs to be improved somehow – it used to be busy, but now a lot of shops have shut down, but the people that live round here are not the type that will shop in the new place.”
While another said: “I’m against it, but I don’t think there’s anything we can do about it. We’ve been given very little information. Something needs to be done about Chrisp Street, but I doubt this redevelopment will work. It could be a good thing if it did, but it will fail because there’s no parking.”
Poplar Harca’s chief executive, Steve Stride, previously stated the “whole community” wanted to see “a good quality shopping and leisure facility” in the area.
He said: “Car ownership is incredibly low here and incomes are low, so people don’t want to travel miles; people have to travel to Canary Wharf. They want something local. Not just shopping. There will be a cinema and other cultural facilities as well, and that’s what people want. And good eating.”
When asked if traders and shopkeepers would be able to return, he said: “Absolutely, yes, [although], some will want to move on because it’s just their time. But the pie-and-mash and the chemist we’ve already moved [to ensure they can continue to operate].”
Tower Hamlets Renters plans to consult with residential tenants in the coming weeks and months to find out how they feel about the scheme.
Out of ten traders and shopkeepers we spoke to the main concerns were:
- Not given enough information about the scheme (8)
- Concerns over whether they can return after the work is completed (5)
- Don’t want the redevelopment to happen (4)
- A different scheme is needed (4)
- We’re not listened to (3)
- People will not use the new shopping centre (3)
- The new scheme doesn’t include enough parking (3)
- There’s nothing we can do (2)