All options for Carpenters Estate tower blocks "remain on the table"

All options for Carpenters Estate tower blocks "remain on the table".

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz has today said that all options for the future of three tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford “remain on the table” as part of a proposed resident-driven redevelopment plan.

In February this year Mayor Fiaz and Newham Council’s Cabinet members approved developers Populo Living to run a resident-led planning redesign process to restore the estate after years of uncertainty.

Populo Living, the newly renamed housing delivery company formerly known as Red Door Ventures, have spent the past 16 weeks carrying out detailed analysis and surveys of James Riley Point, Lund Point and Dennison Point tower blocks. They are looking at everything from structural soundness to whether the towers could be upgraded to provide decent homes for the future.

Mayor Fiaz said: “Populo is building on many months of conversations we’ve already had with residents to ensure the estate once again becomes a vibrant community heartland that the next generation can call home. This reflects my commitment to involving residents in decision-making and working collaboratively with them so that the skills, knowledge and experience of those who know the estate best are shaping its future. I’m really excited that Populo Living is driving forward the Carpenters Estate programme with residents that live there and with those who have moved away but have the right to return.”

Under the previous administration of Newham Council, a procurement process was launched to form a joint venture partnership with a private developer to regenerate the estate. Under that administration’s then transfer programme as the joint venture was pursued, many residents relocated from the estate with more than 70% rehoused in the Stratford area. Under the terms of a Resident’s Charter, which has been strengthened under Mayor Fiaz’s administration, they will have the right to return to the Carpenters Estate if they want too.

The joint venture plan was paused by Mayor Fiaz after she was elected in May 2018. She had a manifesto commitment to end the process and consult directly with residents about the estate’s future.

In December 2018 Mayor Fiaz promised a “fresh start” and began a range of conversations with residents on the full range of options for the estate to develop a masterplan with the aspiration to deliver additional homes, a minimum of 50% genuinely affordable housing, restores the estate as a vibrant neighbourhood, and connects it to the wider revitalised Stratford area.

The Mayor’s promise was part of a range of housing commitments linked to an ambitious housing delivery strategy, including building 1,000 new genuinely affordable homes at social rent levels over her four years in office.

The Mayor added: “All options remain on the table for the future of the three towers. All previous assessments that refurbishment wasn’t going to be an option are being looked at again. Final technical reports are being prepared and will be presented to Newham’s Cabinet before the end of the year. The estate’s Residents Steering Group will play a full and active part in the process.”

In recent months there has been meetings, discussions, and workshops with residents and the Council has confirmed that there will be a resident ballot on any final proposals.

Populo Living is working with experienced specialists with strong track records in tower block upgrades and redesign, including architects, structural engineers, carbon assessors, cost consultants, services engineers, fire consultants, engineers and valuers.

The bulk of the empty properties on the estate aren't currently habitable. Those that are habitable are occupied, with 67 properties being used as temporary accommodation and 11 more being renovated.

James Riley Point, Lund Point and Dennison Point, have 434 properties in total, with 29 currently occupied by tenants or leaseholders and the rest void. A study was undertaken under the previous administration to determine the cost of turning the void properties in the tower blocks into temporary accommodation for up to five years. The estimated cost was put at more than £50m and the decision at the time was that a short term use of the buildings was not feasible.

Mayor Fiaz asked for a new review which has been looking at the option for full refurbishment comprising a total revamp of each of the buildings to give them a 60-year plus life, and testing how the homes could be future proofed to meet the challenges of climate change and affordable living. The review will look at total refit costs of all internal flats, replacing the lifts, renewal of all services, upgrading of all fire protection items, and ways in which the towers could be improved to enhance amenity space for residents.

The Mayor added: “I have said before that this is a fresh start for the Carpenters Estate. I want to again reassure the residents on the estate and others that I remain on their side. I want this to be a beacon of good practice in regeneration and residents to be at the heart of it. They have been ignored for too long.”

Published: 25 Jun 2020