St. Paul’s Way is one of the most deprived areas in Tower Hamlets but lies in the midst of Europe’s largest regeneration area, encompassing the Royal Docks, Canning Town, Canary Wharf, Poplar, Stratford City, the Westfield Shopping Centre, and the site of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Along St Paul’s Way, within a few hundred yards of each other, are two housing estates, a secondary school, a GP practice, two primary schools, a retail parade and several community facilities. Yet far from bringing communities together, St Paul’s Way acted as a car-dominated boundary between the disparate communities on either side of it; one local resident described the road as “the Berlin Wall”.
A series of significant developments were planned along the street, but the thinking was not ‘joined-up’ – the school, the health centre, and the housing were going to be built in isolation to each other. Set up in 2006, the St Paul’s Way Transformation Project is a partnership between Tower Hamlets Council, Poplar Housing and Regeneration Community Association (HARCA), The Diocese of London, NHS Tower Hamlets, Leaside Regeneration Ltd, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, and Andrew Mawson Partnerships. It is tasked with bringing together, in a joined-up project, the physical improvements along St Paul’s Way, creating new networks and relationships between the parties and local residents, and pursuing a coordinated vision for the future of the area.
With Phase One of the work now completed, Phase Two has now begun. The St Paul’s Way Transformation Project has now been incorporated into a new social enterprise, St Paul’s Way Community Interest Company (CIC), which was founded in March 2012. The Directors of this new company will oversee this next phase of the Transformation Project, deepen working relationships between the stakeholders, and work with local partners and residents to encourage and create a local enterprise culture. The aim is to lift aspiration, and aim for the highest and create a sense of identity in a group of housing estates that previously has faced challenging circumstances. Any profits eventually generated by the St Paul’s Way Transformation Project will be reinvested in local projects with the St Paul’s Way Trust School acting as the “asset lock” body of the CIC. The St Paul’s Way Transformation Project is being supported in this next phase by G4S plc and Catlin plc.