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In 2019, Poplar Harca and Eco World - who own the buildings that frame the street - commissioned High Street Works (Meanwhile Space' and Jan Kattein Architects' joint venture) to develop and implement a meanwhile use creative strategy to revive the high street over the next two years while developments are taking place on Oxbow development. The following approach was developed:

1. The Start Here programme

The Start Here programme seeks to diversify the existing retail offer further and draw new footfall to Aberfeldy Street. It seeks to support local community by prioritising local business owners and entrepreneurs in their application. Last summer we received 60+ application from business owners, organisations and people with a business idea, and selected 3 new businesses to join Aberfeldy Street. Read more about these businesses here.

Start Here gives organisations an opportunity to trial their proposition and grow their business through an incubator rent model where all spaces are offered rent-free during the first year of tenancy, followed by below market rates rent. As an additional benefit, successful organisations will have access to business advice and mentoring to excel their business and community group Aberfeldy Big Local are making funding available to selected candidates.

2. Creative works programme

​The creative works programme manifests in a piece of facade artwork reproduced across some 26 buildings. When developing the concept for the piece, Jan Kattein Architects referenced the Bangladeshi kantha tradition of recycling old textiles to create something new as well as Poplar's legacy of garment and fashion manufacture. A community call-out for fabric swatch donations provided the basis for the designs. The architects subsequently scanned the donated swatches and processed the images digitally to create a compelling patchwork to be applied to the facades. Cuttle Construction and the London Mural Company used some 874 liters of paint in 200 different colours to realise the work.

3. A programme of engagement and outreach activities 

This programme aims to re-connect local people with their high street through a series of community events and co-design processes​.​

START HERE programme details

We’ve outlined the details of the spaces, programme commitments and application criteria in START HERE programme outline (click to download).

Application Process

The START HERE application process is now closed. Selected tenants will move in from September 2020 onwards. 


To register interest in the programme, or to enquire about future opportunities, please contact us on

Poplar is changing and we are hoping that the the project will help to build common ground in Aberfeldy Street, creating opportunities for existing and new residents to meet in an inspirational and bustling local high street.

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