At the heart of High Street 2012 is the aim to ensure that the needs of local people are met by the spaces they inhabit and encounter along the route. The communities that live and work along the high street have been actively involved in activities that inform how we plan and deliver the project and have been consulted at various stages since the project was first launched in 2009.
Community engagement was embedded right from the very beginning of the project when the vision document was being created. Architectural practice Fluid – on behalf of the High Street 2012 project partners – drove an icecream van (rebranded as ‘The Nice Dream Van’) round the area to find out what local people thought of the street and how they would change it if they could. These opinions helped shaped the principles on which the project initiatives were founded.
Ongoing public consultations have been held at various points and with many different user groups throughout the process to ask for feedback on changes to areas such as Whitechapel Market, Mile End Park and Altab Ali Park.
In 2010, a number of community events were held along the route both to help residents and local businesses connect with the history and character of their areas and to give them ongoing updates on High Street 2012 initiatives that were on-site and that would be coming up soon.
A ring-fenced programme allowing local groups to bid for projects they wanted to carry out along High Street 2012 was launched in January 2011. This, the Heritage, Culture and Community element of High Street 2012 got local people involved in learning about and celebrating the past, the present, the social and the cultural richness of this historic route. Seventeen projects were commissioned in Tower Hamlets along and around the High Street 2012 route, delivering between June 2011 and 2012, with a focus on themes: revealing; recording; re-imaging; and celebrating.
The programme concluded with a 'Summer Safari', showcasing all the great work done. Details of all participants can be found under the 'Heritage and Culture' tab, or click on www.highstreet2012.com/heritage-culture-and-community-grants-programme