Whitechapel skyscraper threat to Canon Barnett school

Proposed tower in Whitechapel seen behind Victorian frontage

The proposed tower in Whitechapel seen behind the Victorian frontage, which would be preserved. - Credit: South Street Asset Management

Developers want to build a skyscraper in Whitechapel’s conservation zone which would take up the playground of Canon Barnett Primary school. 

A company registered in Panama has put an application into Tower Hamlets Council for the 14-storey tower at 100 Whitechapel High Street, adjoining historic Toynbee Hall at the back. 

The site today in Whitechapel High Street where a new 19-storey tower would be

The site today in Whitechapel High Street where a new 19-storey tower would be if given the green light. - Credit: Google

A scheme for 19 storeys was rejected three years ago. Now a revised application has been lodged at the town hall which has begun fresh consultations until February 20. 

“This shows no regard for the heritage and historical fabric of Whitechapel," Andrew Allen, from the East End Preservation Society, said. 

“They want a tall building in the conservation area - which has a character of low rise, narrow buildings with a history of small businesses and family living.” 


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The site, on the corner of Commercial Street, is the beginning of the Whitechapel conservation area. It is currently a Sports Direct store and was the home of the East End’s first Woolworth’s until 2008. It would be levelled with only a four-storey Victorian frontage left in tact as a reminder.

Plan of new tower complex in Whitechapel with Canon Barnett school tucked at the back

Plan for the new tower complex in Whitechapel with Canon Barnett school tucked at the back - Credit: South Street Asset Management

The scheme would take over Canon Barnett’s current playground. A car park would be turned into the new play area in exchange. But critics fear the tower would block the school’s daylight and overshadow the listed Toynbee Hall on one side and the Whitechapel Gallery "heritage asset" on the other with "just another bland glass-and-concrete monolith".

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Objectors see it as "encroachment" from the City by extending the special “tall building zone” from Aldgate into Whitechapel. The proposal also doesn’t conform to Tower Hamlets’ Local Plan formally adopted in 2020, or the Aldgate Master Plan and local conservation guidelines. 

What rest of Whitechapel High Street could look like... extending current 'tall buildings' zone from Aldgate

What the rest of Whitechapel High Street could look like... extending the 'tall buildings' zone from Aldgate opposite proposed scheme - Credit: Google

The new land owners, a Malaysian family trust called Alliance Property Asia, but registered in Panama, have put the site up for redevelopment promising a better school playground, new jobs in the area and “a reduction in crime” with a new public space promised. The application has been submitted by the developers, South Street Asset Management in Mayfair, which was unavailable when contacted by the East London Advertiser. The company's PR agency has since made contact and confirmed that an application for a 14-storey tower has been lodged. 

The consultation runs to February 20. Views can be made at towerhamlets.gov.uk, reference PA/20/02726/A1. 

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