Controversy over the new Bath Street Square

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Amidst the housing crisis in London, there has been a proposal for the redevelopment of Bath Street Square in Whitechapel, hindering the creation of affordable housing, which many residents believe should be given priority.

Picture of flag made by socialist party of Tower Hamlets, taken by Iman Mohammed on 14/10/23
Tower Hamlets Socialist Party have protested against redevelopment of Bath Street Square.

The housing crisis in London has surged in recent months, becoming a greater emergency than ever.

It is becoming increasingly harder for residents to afford homes for themselves as well as their families, which many believe the council should be focusing on, instead of rebuilding and developing old buildings for other purposes.

The Socialist party of Tower Hamlets have taken to the streets of Whitechapel, specifically near Bath Street Square, to protest against this proposal and to make residents aware of the council’s plan for redevelopment.

After speaking to local people, the activists found that many were unaware of the redevelopment, prompting the creation of a petition to halt the plans.

Image of leaflets and fundraising for Socialist party of Tower Hamlets taken by Iman Mohammed on 14/10/23.
Leaflets and posters created by the campaigners

The plan of redevelopment consists of four goals related to housing, which are stated on the Bath Street Square consultation boards. One of these goals is to build approximately 950 new homes, of which only 200 will fall under the category ‘affordable’.

In addition to this, the proposal to create a new four-star hotel is one which is deemed “unnecessary” by the protestors, as well as residents signing the petition.

A member of the Socialist party who asked not to be named, said, “they could build a lot more council houses instead of building a hotel. There are approximately 23,000 people waiting for council housing, and many of the people I have spoken to today are not even on the list.”

One of those is single mother Tess, who is currently living in a four-bedroom apartment in Whitechapel with her four children. She stated that she had “been on the waiting list for council housing for six years” and that she “hopes her children will get to move out before she gets a flat”.

She further claims that “the council build homes for people that earn a minimum of 90k a year in two for mortgage,” which she explained is way above what she currently earns.

In contrast to this, 40-year-old Jaber, living in Stepney Green, also raised concerns about “the council discarding residential parking and building non-affordable homes.” He also revealed that he’d been on the council-housing waiting list for eight years.

Concerns are heightened and many worry that their place on the council-housing list, as well as wishes for affordable housing, may be jeopardised due to the rebuilding plans which have been proposed.

All images by Iman Mohammed

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