I’m sick of concrete jungle creeping up on Robin Hood Gardens

Dear Ed... I HAVE lived on the Robin Hood Gardens estate for over a decade and in Poplar all of my life. I love where I live.

But I am sick of seeing overdevelopment of what was once a green and pleasant area being turned into a concrete jungle (Advertiser, December 2).

From the start, the whole propaganda machine of Tower Hamlets council’s so-called ‘consultation’ process for the Blackwall Reach regeneration of Robin Hood Gardens has been set upon residents like a feral dog.

The local authority has a duty under the 1985 Housing Act to tell us of any major housing management change and to consult clearly and distinctly on what it proposes to do with our homes.

Any perceived withholding of information, mis-information or even withholding residents’ views could possibly lead to legal action at a later date. That is what we are considering.

I have always suspected the consultation process was not carried out properly.

Firstly, those consulted were mis-informed. Secondly, information was withheld. Thirdly, the tenants did not truly understand the whole process.

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The doorstep poll the council likes to keep publishing about “80 per cent” wanting Robin Hood Gardens demolished and wanting new homes is highly suspect.

This poll was taken from a response of just 94 residents. There are 250 families on the estate, so 80 per cent of 94 comes to 76 residents—less than 30 per cent!

The ‘Statement of Community Participation’ following the consultants’ survey in 2007 warns that residents were not entirely clear about the consultation.

It stated the ‘80 per cent’ were “highly illiterate residents” and carried a warning that “this percentage needs to be treated with some caution” as they did not reveal to families that demolition meant losing their ‘council secure’ tenancies.

Householders clearly wanted to keep their secure tenancies in the new development, with 95 per cent having previously voted for no change, 77 per cent wishing to remain on the estate.

Remember, residents were faced at that time with huge disrepair and electrical problems, leaks, poor heating and hot water maintenance, no internal decorations for 20 years, double glazing only on one side of the blocks, broken down lifts, etc, etc.

Faced with all that, anyone would vote for demolition—but on the assumption they would get new homes and keep their secure tenancies.

The straw poll show of hands at a staged consultancy day in 2007 was also highly suspect. It is always advertised to the press as 225 people turning up, but that was across the day and there were only 72 people left by the time the poll was taken—a very small percentage out of 250 families.

So why does Mayor Rahman, who has never met the families in a public meeting, not state that most tenants assumed that remaining council tenants in Robin Hood Gardens after redevelopment was a valid option?

Why does council keeps repeating the same mantra of “80 per cent” in favour of demolition and never including the 95 per cent wanting to stay council tenants?

Our own survey of 140 households so far shows at least 130 families want refurbishment, not demolition, which is why we are now considering legal action for being misrepresented by a skewed consultation.

Darren Pauling

Robin Hood Gardens


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