On 19 November 2015, councillors are expected to make a decision on how to take forward the redevelopment of the Carpenters Estate.
A report, recommending a Joint Venture partnership where the council will procure a suitable partner to work with to redevelop the estate, will be considered by the Council's Cabinet. The redevelopment is intended to be a mixed use scheme which will create homes and jobs.
There is no proposed scheme at this stage and specific proposals will only be developed if councillors accept the recommendations of the report.
About the Carpenters Estate, Stratford
The Carpenters Estate, Stratford, in north-west Newham, was built in 1967 and includes three of our largest tower blocks:
- James Riley Point
- Lund Point
- Dennison Point.
It also contains homes with gardens, smaller blocks of flats, a school, a college and a number of local businesses.
In the late 1990s tenants and leaseholders started to manage the estate through the Carpenters Tenant Management Organisation (TMO). Carpenters TMO is responsible for repairs and maintenance, caretaking, managing tenancies and maintaining the grounds. It also manages the community hall on the Carpenters Estate.
An elected group of tenants, the Carpenters Joint Residents' Steering Group (JRSG), works with us, representing the interests of tenants, leaseholders and freeholders about the long-term regeneration of the area.
The road to regeneration
Plans for regeneration of the Carpenters Estate have been under consideration since 2000/1. Residents have seen a number of plans since that time. The last proposals – presented in 2008 – were cancelled due to a lack of investment funds because of the global economic crisis.
By 2004 it had become clear that the estate was falling into disrepair and needed significant improvement work to bring it up to a modern standard and maintain it.
After analysing the costs, it was clear that this would be an expensive process costing up to £25 million per tower. In 2004 a Newham Cabinet Report recommended emptying and demolishing James Riley Point. This was to release land for development to provide the money to pay for the maintenance of the other two blocks.
The recommendation was approved and the process of emptying the block began. Housing services worked with local urban planners to develop a masterplan for the two remaining blocks and the locality.
In 2006 and 2007 we spoke to the Greater London Authority to ask for funding to refurbish the remaining two blocks, but the work was considered too expensive.
The start of the economic downturn compounded this issue.
While the refurbishment itself was costly, it would also mean extra costs due to new building regulations. The tower block buildings have a skeleton of asbestos which is buried underneath the concrete skin. The blocks would need to be empty during any work. Lund Point and Dennison Point both needed extra work to seal the asbestos for the future, as the cladding was affected.
Many residents of Lund Point and Dennison Point were leaseholders who had bought their properties through the Right-to-Buy scheme. Some now own a number of properties. Leaseholders would have had to pay the cost of the major refurbishment needed, which was estimated at £120,000 per property valued at the time at £110,000.
We took the view that it was not acceptable to ask leaseholders to pay for major works that would not add anywhere near the equivalent value to their properties. And it was not acceptable to expect residents to live in deteriorating accommodation.
A programme of modernisation for new kitchens and bathrooms was also not feasible as the exterior of the block required significant work and offset the benefits of a limited upgrade programme.
The asbestos in the blocks is now safe and will stay safe. Nearly all of it is contained in concrete so can’t be accessed. Any areas which can be accessed have been legally tagged and the asbestos safely removed. Any structural work to the blocks would risk exposing it.
Between 2004 and 2009 we asked the residents TMO what it thought about a number of possible options to refurbish the blocks. Every option was too expensive to be feasible as the costs outweighed the value of the leaseholders’ properties and council-owned flats.
After a public meeting with residents in 2008, the Cabinet recommended demolition of the two remaining blocks and some smaller blocks on Doran Walk. This was in addition to the decision in 2004 to transfer the residents and demolish James Riley Point.
We investigated many options to arrive at our decision to transfer residents and demolish James Riley Point, Lund Point, Dennison Point and part of Doran Walk as part of the wider regeneration of the Carpenters Estate.
Many residents have now left the Carpenters Estate through our transfer programme, mainly to homes in Stratford and surrounding areas of Newham. The tower blocks are now nearly 90% empty. Over 70% of secure tenants rehoused because of regeneration have remained in the Stratford area.
We worked with residents in specific properties, including the tower blocks, to help them find an alternative property of their choice which met their specific needs.
The Carpenters Residents Charter
The Carpenters Residents Charter sets out the council's commitment to residents affected by the rehousing from the Carpenters Estate. The Charter was agreed after careful consultation and negotiations between the council and Joints Residents’ Steering Group.
The charter promises that no rehoused residents will be worse off and offers a generous compensation and removal package. Tenants will be prioritised on the council's housing waiting list with preference for properties in Stratford, including new homes on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Resident leaseholders and freeholders will be offered full market value plus 10 per cent, while non-resident leaseholders and freeholders are entitled to full market value plus 7.5 per cent. All residents will have access to independent advice.
The charter also guarantees residents the right to return subject to availability. This means that residents will be transferred to new accommodation of their choice and will then be able to choose to return once the redevelopment of the estate is complete, subject to availability.
Stratford Metropolitan Masterplan
On 16 December 2010 the Mayor of Newham approved the Stratford Metropolitan Masterplan for the regeneration of the Stratford area, including the existing town centre, Stratford City and the Olympic Site after the 2012 Games.
We developed the Masterplan through a year-long process involving widespread consultation and option testing. The plan is supported by a range of background studies, including a:
- detailed evidence base
- sustainability appraisal
- transport study
- community infrastructure assessment.
The Masterplan sets out our ambition for Stratford as an integrated metropolitan centre for east London. A centre which will offer new opportunities for Newham’s residents, including:
- 46,000 new jobs,
- 20,000 new homes
- eight new schools
- new shops
- leisure facilities
- local services
- better walking routes
- transport connections.
One of the early development opportunities identified in the Masterplan was The Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood.
Interest from University College London
On 13 May 2013 we announced that negotiations regarding the proposed University College London (UCL) development at the Carpenters Estate had ended without agreement. Read the full press release
Carpenters Estate newsletter