Site Visit Report: Blackwall & Ocean Estate

Yesterday Future of London took the opportunity to visit two transformational regeneration schemes in Tower Hamlets.

Blackwall Reach regeneration area covers 8.5 hectares of mainly public land just north of Blackwell DLR Station, west of the Blackwell Tunnel Approach and east of Poplar. Tower Hamlets have set up a joint venture with the HCA and plan a comprehensive £300m redevelopment to deliver new homes, retail and business premises and a larger school, as well as improved community facilities, open space and connectivity to neighbouring areas such as East India Dock, Poplar and the Thames.

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A phased approach will allow for the complete redevelopment of the Council-owned Robin Hood Gardens Estate, a dilapidated 1960s estate in the heart of the regeneration area.  Over 1600 new homes are proposed, with approximately 35% to be affordable and a strong element of larger rented family accommodation. Whilst Tower Hamlets and the HCA have fronted land acquisition and enabling costs, financing for the project is to be private led, funded through a mix of market sale unit receipts and borrowing, and initial phases are planned to be delivered without social housing grant. Infrastructure costs are anticipated to be met through developer S106 contributions.

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Blackwell Reach Regeneration Project are securing a development partner with shortlisted competitive design and build tenders from Swan and Countryside Properties, and London & Quadrant and Telford Homes, currently being evaluated. An appointment is expected in the first quarter of next year, with outline and then detailed planning submitted subsequently and prior to land transfer and a scheduled start on site end 2011 / early 2012.

For more information on Blackwell Reach Regeneration Project contact Robin.Sager@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Ocean Estate in Stepney comprises approximately 1400 properties constructed between the 1940s and 1980s, with a broad mix of both built form and tenure. Blair visited the estate nine years ago and talked about regeneration, Cameron visited this year before the election and talked about Big Society, however it has taken a partnership between Tower Hamlets, HCA, East Thames, Bellway Homes and Wates to come up with the public funding and private finance to kickstart the regeneration of a deprived estate which was first mooted under New Deal for Communities back in 2001.

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The 200 million programme will refurbish almost 800 homes and bring them up to the Decent Homes Standard, build more than 800 new homes across five sites on the estate, significantly improve the quality of the public realm, and provide new community and health facilities. 170 homes have already been brought up to a decent standard under a pilot scheme, with the main programme started earlier this year and scheduled to complete in Spring 2013, works covering both internal and exterior refurbishment. Some of the poorest quality blocks have and continue to be demolished, and foundation works on the first new build blocks, comprising 462 properties, of which the majority will be social housing, will start end 2010 / early 2011. Local labour is being employed on site and waste from the refurbishment works will be disposed of by barge down the Regent’s Canal that borders the estate to the east.

For more information on Ocean Estate contact James.Walsh@towerhamlets.gov.uk

Jonathan Kay
LB Brent