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Deprived Ocean Estate block is demolished

PUBLISHED: 11:44 23 November 2010

Bengal House

Bengal House

Archant

A WORN-DOWN housing block on a deprived estate has been demolished to make way for one of the biggest East End developments in recent times.

Residents watched with mixed feelings as the first ‘bites’ were taken out of Bengal House, in Stepney’s Ocean Estate, yesterday (November 22).

The building, built in the 1950s, is the largest to be knocked down in an area earmarked for several new blocks and outdoor landscaping.

Brenda Daley, who grew up on Ocean Street, said: “It’s sad in one respect to see the building go but over the years the upkeep hasn’t been great.

“They promised so many programmes over the years and they all fell apart so it’s a long time coming.”

Despite being a place of mixed opportunities and experiences for East Enders, the estate has been in the spotlight over the past few decades for all the wrong reasons.

Past visits from Tony Blair and David Cameron highlighted it as an area of deprivation with some of the worst overcrowding in the country.

Some 7,000 people live in and around the estate – many in cramped conditions.

The new development will see more than 800 replacement homes, with more three and four bedroom properties.

A further 1,200 flats in other parts of the estate have been refurbished with new bathrooms and kitchens.

Catherine Claxton, of Hawk House, said: “Al the neighbours are really pleased. I had to keep my fridge in my living room before and now everything is much more accessible.”

Mayor Lutfur Rahman, who watched the demolition, raved the new homes will “uplift people,” while admitting they were “long due.”

Residents have been assured that half the properties will be affordable.

But if social rents rise to 80 per cent of market value – as the government announced in their recent spending review – those on low incomes could priced out.

Mr Rahman said: “Obviously what the government is proposing is disappointing. It’s my intention to work with the community and the housing association to make sure people can afford to live here.”

The £200 million regeneration is being led by Tower Hamlets Council, in partnership with East Thames Development Consortium.

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