A project that matters ...

A pioneering child-friendly neighbourhood for Poplar in Tower Hamlets, closely involving young people in its design.

Rethinking an underpass will help to transform Aberfeldy

One reason the Aberfeldy Village masterplan stands out is because it has been shaped by the people so often ignored in the process. 

Slip road and underpass set to be transformed as part of new proposals
A proposal for Jolly Green, looking east once the underpass is replaced

Creating new connections for an urban island

Aberfeldy Village will be a pioneering new neighbourhood in Poplar, created from the redevelopment of the Aberfeldy and Nairn Street Estates. The driving force behind the project is to improve the homes and environment of the local community.

The neighbourhood is currently a triangular shaped urban island, severed by the River Lea, the A13 and the A12. The development by Poplar HARCA and Ecoworld unlocks the isolated site by creating many new connections, so that Aberfeldy Village will be well linked to surrounding communities.

The scheme is community-led and there is enormous local support with 93% in support, with a 91% turnout in the ballot.

LDA Design is responsible for the landscape masterplan and one of the key urban public realm moves will be the visionary transformation of a grey underpass below the A12, removing a section of the roof and retaining wall. 

Transforming the underpass will deliver a new pedestrian and cycle connection between Aberfeldy and west Poplar with clear sightlines through. It will even become a destination in its own right, as a dramatic exciting space which is colourful and activated by cafes and workshops. It will connect improved green spaces, providing new opportunities for exercise and play.

Four public realm character areas inform the landscape-led masterplan. A bright and active High Street; the neighbourly north-south Community Lane with front door spaces that spill out into the street; Enterprise Yard which reflects the area’s industrial past and a new green boulevard along the existing Abbott Road.

Local walking tours provided insight into the everyday lives of local teens. Photo by Thomas Graham
Although many of Aberfeldy's teenagers would like to cycle to school, only one of those consulted did. Photo by Thomas Graham

A pioneering child-friendly neighbourhood

Regeneration will provide 1,582 homes including 38.8% affordable housing. Aberfeldy Village is aiming to be London’s first child-centred neighbourhood, and community engagement started with 100 pupils at local schools. They were asked to write a manifesto for the neighbourhood, to help them critique the new masterplan by Levitt Bernstein as it developed.

During the schools consultation, which was run by ZCD Architects with LDA Design, pupils told us they wanted a friendly place, easy to get around and which gave them more freedom. They wanted their new village to have plenty of nature and green space, be good for play and sport, and to work for all ages.

Design will be distinctive to the area. A new neighbourhood square is designed to reflect the industrial past of East London and the diversity of the local community. Robust materials are overlaid with contemporary ethnic influences from the local Bangladeshi Kantha project with etched flower patterns in concrete, colourful bespoke furniture, planting, play equipment and dramatic lighting. There will be a new mosque.

The independent high street, Aberfeldy Street, encourages community through sculptural, colourful seating planters and places for café seating, within a framework of retained trees. It has numerous multi-functional spaces for cultural events.

For the residential area, a Community Lane for pedestrians and cyclists encourages neighbourliness with front gardens and low walls. Generous seating, play areas and doorstep greens will facilitate chatting and chance encounters.

It took 800 litres of paint to brighten Aberfeldy Street with Bangladeshi Kantha inspired prints, a meanwhile move that celebrates the strong community here and helps to revive the street ahead of further development.  

A new kind of neighbourhood – Community Lane 

A healthy place to live

Aberfeldy Village will be designed to encourage people to spend more time outdoors, whether walking and cycling or playing. The Victorian street pattern will be reinstated to improve east-west connections, with new bridges, and north-south routes created with Enterprise Yard and Community Lane. A narrow, concrete approach to the existing pedestrian underpass for the A12 will be replaced with new green slopes, providing clear sightlines.

Aberfeldy Village is designed to be playable throughout and it will have over 7,600m2 play space, which goes well beyond scheme guidance. A car-free play street will support the existing primary school. There will be beautiful public spaces, with a new community park and existing open green spaces redesigned. Significant investment will be made in new play areas, footpaths, gym equipment, refurbished MUGA and seating. Young women in particular were asked to describe the kind of outdoors spaces they would most like for meeting up together and exercising and this informed how seating and equipment should be designed and where it should go.

Biodiversity will be maximised throughout Aberfeldy Village through ornamental and ecological planting, with the introduction of 260 additional trees. Abbott Road will link a number of small separate parks, to provide a single coherent high-quality green network for the neighbourhood. Currently a busy road, it will become a healthy street itself by narrowing the carriageway to allow tree planting, with hedges to benefit pedestrians, and wider crossing places-

Enterprise Yards
All CGIs by Blackpoint

A strong local economy

Aberfeldy Village will be a truly sustainable, mixed-use neighbourhood. New strategic connections will be made from western Poplar to Aberfeldy and the new bridges across the River Lea to Canning Town and further east will serve 1,200 people at peak hours.

An authentic east London neighbourhood is being created, rooted in the community that lives there whilst providing opportunities for positive change.  There will be generous new workspace for local creative industries, including an expansion of the successful existing enterprise, Poplar Works. Small businesses, start ups and makers are facilitated by the public realm through adjacent spill out space, as well as a square to bring the business community together.

A new Town Square and a revitalised High Street at the heart of the community will be the places people gravitate for shopping, local events and incidental socialising and play. New retail space will be carefully woven together with small cafes, restaurants and community uses. The new high street will be the new local centre for Aberfeldy.


Aberfeldy High Street
Braithwaite Park
Community Lane, looking north

The scheme to transform Aberfeldy has local backing with 93% of the community in support, with a 91% turnout in the ballot. 

Concept sketch showing the new link between Jolly's Green and Highland Place

EcoWorld London, Poplar HARCA

Tower Hamlets, London

Landscape Architecture, Planning

Key contact
Andrew Harland

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