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Council in U-turn move to bring back public housing

PUBLISHED: 20:10 24 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:49 05 October 2010

PLANS for a £20 million drive to combat chronic overcrowded social housing in London’s deprived East End have been agreed tonight (Monday) by Town Hall bosses. A programme of building new family accommodation for social’ letting is on the table—and cash to buy back former council properties that had been sold to tenants under the Right to Buy’ scheme

David Williams

PLANS for a £20 million drive to combat chronic overcrowded social housing in London’s East End have been agreed tonight (Monday) by Town Hall bosses.

A programme of building new family accommodation for social’ letting is on the table—and cash to buy back former council properties that had been sold to tenants under the Right to Buy’ scheme.

The draft housing strategy has been agreed at a meeting behind closed doors by Tower Hamlets Council’s ruling Labour group, the East London Advertiser believes.

The strategy is now to be considered by the authority’s all-Labour cabinet committee in what appears to be a full circle’ after the controversial Housing Choice’ scenario to offload council housing estates onto private housing associations over the past 10 years.

The plan now is aimed at improving conditions for 500 families waiting for suitable accommodation that the authority is unable to provide, according to a council source.

A typical case could involve a family cramped into a two-bedroom flat with a teenage brother and sister sharing a bedroom.

The move comes in the wake of shock revelations that two of the three consortia bidding for the lucrative £200 million contract to regenerate Stepney’s massive Ocean Estate pulled out last week, revealed by the Advertiser.

The credit crunch was blamed by Tower Hamlets council for the crisis in the construction industry which lead to the double pull-out.

One consortium remains in the running—but the news still came as a bitter blow to many of the estate’s long-standing tenants.

One of its original tenants who moved in when the estate opened in 1951 is Doris Goddard, now 82, who says it has been neglected for decades and has barely had a fresh coat of paint.

“The place was like a palace when we moved in,” she told the Advertiser.

“I was 24 and it was the first home I ever had with a bathroom and fitted kitchen.

“But the estate now has hardly had a lick of paint since.

“The only time they spruced it up was when Tony Blair visited here in 2001.

“They cut the grass for him—then let it grow wild again afterwards!”

The original tenant-families “took pride in the surroundings,” she recalls.

But today’s fragmented community has let Anson House where she lives “become an eyesore.”

Overcrowding in the Ocean Estate has been a problem for decades, say families. Some even had to convert their bathrooms into makeshift bedrooms as long ago as 1986—some 15 years before Tony Blair’s visit when he pledged £56m for regeneration’ to the estate locked in a neighbourhood now facing growing drugs and crime.

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Future in doubt as hope sinks on Ocean Estate


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