Regency victory for passionate Londoners

Prizes for Whitechapel houses and a new community
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Whitechapel cottages
© Robin Forster
Derelict cottages in Whitechapel have been restored by the Spitalfields Trust
A small corner of London’s architectural history has been saved, a community restored and a new neighbourhood created in a conservation project that has won praise from judges of the Georgian Awards.

The Spitalfields Trust bought 10 crumbling Regency cottages at the corner of Turner and Varden Streets in Whitechapel, selling them on to Londoners who then let the Trust rebuild them observing strict conservation rules.

Regeneration was at the heart of this year’s Georgian Awards, presented by the Duke of Gloucester. The message was that restoring good buildings has a wide knock-on effect.

In the most competitive category, the Whitechapel restoration was highly commended. For six years, Homes & Property has followed the story of the horseshoe of cottages in a run-down part of London on the City’s edge.

The houses had been boarded up, then squatted. They faced demolition from the London Development Agency, which had planned to sell the valuable site. Though eight houses had been bought privately, 10 remained under threat. When the Spitalfields Trust bought them and sold them to Londoners passionate about architecture it was an impressive act of faith by the buyers and a huge job for the trust.

Under architectural designer Tim Whittaker, the trust added new mansard rooves and weatherboarded extensions and walled gardens at the back, creating much bigger, very desirable family homes. A new neighbourhood is now emerging among once blighted streets where drug dealers dominated.

A prize also went to a nine-bay office building on Tottenham Court Road, by Quinlan Terry architects. Next to the Dominion Theatre, the limestone-and- bronze building, with its soaring classical Ionic and Corinthian pillars, appears designed to look as though it has always stood there.

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