East End’s ‘deprived’ Ocean Estate is shortlisted for top UK design award

Stepney's new-look Ocean housing estate [photo: Tim Crocker]

Stepney's new-look Ocean housing estate [photo: Tim Crocker] - Credit: East Thames Housing

New housing developments in London’s deprived East End on what was once one of Britain’s most deprived housing estates have been shortlisted for a prestigious British design award for 2015.

Stepney's new-look Ocean housing estate [photo: Tim Crocker]

Stepney's new-look Ocean housing estate [photo: Tim Crocker] - Credit: East Thames Housing

The Top 60 shortlist by Inside Housing magazine includes two schemes at Stepney’s massive Ocean Estate.

The schemes, known locally as ‘Vivo’ and ‘So Stepney’, are highlighted in the Best Designed category and now compete with five other developments to try and impress the judges for the top slot.

They are part of East Thames Housing’s £220m Ocean Estate regeneration designed by renowned architects Levitt Bernstein, to create 800 new homes and refurbishing 1,000 council tenancy properties.

“These schemes have transformed the landscape for those who used to live in one the country’s most deprived estates,” Levitt Bernstein’s chairman Gary Tidmarsh said. “The design, specifications, space and technical standards exceed statutory requirements.”

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The best development in each of 10 categories, from design to sustainability, are being awarded a winner’s trophy in October at a ceremony at the Lancaster Hotel.

The regeneration of the Ocean Estate has helped boost Tower Hamlets Council’s housebuiding programme which was recently named as completing the most low-cost homes of any local authority in the country—almost 5,600 in the past five years alone, according to Whitehall’s Department of Communities and Local Government.

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Emma Maier, editor of Inside Housing, said: “There is a crisis across the UK to build quality, affordable homes. It is a brilliant achievement for the Ocean Estate to make it into the Top 60 in the face of such fierce competition.”

Tower Hamlets still has one of London’s longest housing waiting lists, with well over 20,000 families in the queue.

East Thames started construction in March on the final phase of the regeneration. Three “poorly-designed” post-war blocks put up in the early 1950s are being demolished to make way for 225 new homes for ‘affordable’ rent and shared ownership, transforming the area around Ben Jonson Road which was once in the top 10 per cent of the country’s most deprived housing estates.

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