Communities in Transition: Poplar

CC image courtesy of Matt Brown on Flickr
CC image courtesy of Matt Brown on Flickr


Future of London’s next Communities in Transition field trip will be to Poplar on 24th September, with a focus on Chrisp Street market, the UK’s first pedestrianised shopping centre and a landmark in urban design when it opened in 1951.

In line with our 2015 anchor regeneration theme, the visit will explore how local markets can support regeneration; how they can respond and adapt to development and changing demands; and how empty spaces can be put (back) into use to benefit the local community.

Poplar is a pivot between monolithic business engine Canary Wharf and the highly mixed rest of LB Tower Hamlets. Historically bypassed by major infrastructure investment, the area now represents the greatest regeneration opportunity in the borough, with its quantity of large housing estates and brownfield sites. Reshaping Poplar is one of the five priorities in LB Tower Hamlet’s Borough Investment Plan.

Poplar HARCA has been a key player in local regeneration. This resident-led housing association is the borough’s largest stock transfer organisation and owns Chrisp Street market alongside its 9,000 homes. Poplar HARCA has focused many of its efforts on innovative approaches to delivering and enhancing social enterprise in the area, including, for example, through its Open Poplar scheme. This project invites proposals to fill spaces that have capacity beyond their current use, with emphasis on projects that have a positive impact on the surrounding community.

Chrisp Street market was also part of the Portas Pilots initiative. The scheme, led by the council’s public health department, adopted a ‘healthy living’ theme, where funding was used to boost the market through diversifying its offer, holding events to encourage healthy eating and supporting traders through workshops and mentoring. One of these initiatives was Chrisp Street On Air, a temporary radio station that produced a series of podcasts and live events to engage with local businesses and organisations around the future of the market.

More recently, Chrisp Street has been awarded £283,000 through the High Street Fund, which will be used to further the regeneration of the market through a new co-working space, tailored business support and business loans.

Future of London’s field trip will explore the relevance of markets as public and civic spaces for local communities; how they can be used to deliver regeneration and support public health; how empty spaces can be brought back in use; and how regeneration goals can be communicated to residents and businesses.


This visit will run from 3:00 – 5:00 PM on Thursday, 24 September, followed by discussion and networking over drinks.

The trip is free to attend, but space is limited and registration is required. To register your interest, please email If you have secured a spot, you will receive a confirmation email.