The road east from Aldgate to Stratford has a long and mighty history. It's been the main road to Essex from London for the best part of a millennium - the route taken by armies and revolting peasants and stagecoaches and trams. It's part of one of the UK's great trunk roads, the A11, home to traffic jams and exhaust fumes and bendy buses. And in five years time, for a few short hours, it'll be part of the route of the Olympic Marathon. Hundreds of the world's fastest long-distance athletes will be puffing past my front door, just one mile from glory in a billion pound stadium. But Tower Hamlets wants the Olympic legacy to last a bit longer than a couple of brief afternoons. They've had a transformational idea. And that idea is called "High Street 2012". Anybody interested in bringing their vision to life?
An invitation to tender has just been issued, attempting to recruit a team who can enable the delivery of transformational change along three and a half miles of East End street. Someone, surely, can breathe new life into the Whitechapel Road, Mile End Road, Bow Road and Stratford High Street. Someone, surely, can suggest improvements which will enhance the area's ambience for both visitors and residents alike. And hopefully something a bit more exciting than tying multi-coloured balloons to all the lampposts.
The original plan was to name this scheme "Olympic Boulevard", but presumably that was too difficult for local people to spell (and a bit too French), so "High Street 2012" it is. The chosen scheme could be a really exciting blueprint that brightens up my local linear neighbourhood and acts as a catalyst for future regeneration. I could be stepping out of my front door into a thriving cosmopolitan community buzzing with excited tourists and re-energised East End citizens. There might be landscaped public spaces, dynamic transport projects and fully-restored historic buildings. How exciting. But it'll be crucial to assemble the best possible planning team, or else the end result might be nothing more than a few replaced roadsigns and the 2012 Olympic logo painted repeatedly onto the pavement.
The successful planning team will have between 150 and 200 thousand pounds to play with, and six months to deliver a coherent vision strategy for the High Street 2012 project. There's nothing in the tender application which says that ordinary citizens can't apply, so long as they have economic, technical and financial capability. So I wondered if any of you lot were interested in joining me to form a multi-disciplinary consortium to take on the big guys and bid for the big prize. Any architects out there, or urban planners, or bureaucrats who like writing mind-numbing technical documents in project management-speak, please make yourselves known. We've got until noon on 11th January to put together the pre-qualification questionnaire, and then the council will let us know by 21st January whether or not "DG Regeneration Inc" will be invited to participate in the tendering process. Wouldn't it be exciting to be asked to formulate an overarching design vision to shape the foundations of legacy-based renewal in a challenging inner-urban environment? Because I'd love to live somewhere great, and not a street full of plastic palm trees and Starbucks.