Fury over East End council housing being knocked down for private development

Holland Estate tenants from Spitalfields protesting at Tower Hamlets Council meeting

Holland Estate tenants from Spitalfields protesting at Tower Hamlets Council meeting - Credit: Archant

Hundreds of families are fighting to stop their homes being pulled down to make way for private development.

They got all-party backing from Tower Hamlets Council which is now investigating where the £19 million has gone that was given to East End Homes earmarked for modernising the Holland Estate in Spitalfields.

The money was given by the Town Hall for refurbishing the estate when council housing was handed over to social landlords in 2006.

But the tenants of Bruce House, Bernard House, Carter House and Barnett House have learned of proposals to demolish the blocks, which border the City and put up high-rise residential towers for the lucrative property market in this up-and-coming area.

They handed a petition to last Wednesday’s council meeting signed by nearly 70 per cent of the tenants, accusing East End Homes of breaching the 2006 housing transfer agreement.

“There is concern over financial management,” council cabinet member Rabina Khan told the meeting. “We need to find out where that money (for refurbishment) went. It is their intention to demolish blocks on the estate.”

The council voted unanimously for East End Homes to stick to the terms of the 2006 stock transfer agreement and demanded “transparency with genuine consultations” within government guidelines. It wants to hold all social landlords to account.

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Tory Opposition group leader Peter Golds supported the condemnation and called the 1930s housing “a classic redbrick LCC estate” that was well built, designed properly, user-friendly and “ absolutely perfect family housing”.

He added: “We keep pulling these things down and building estates which are absolute disasters—it’s a scandal.”

The five blocks have 600 families, many with roots in Spitalfields, some as many as four generations back.

Cllr Abjol Miah, for the Mayor’s Tower Hamlets First group, told councillors: “The social landlords have been a big failure.

Now the residents’ lives are going to be affected—it’s not only the buildings that are going to be demolished, but their whole lives.

“They want to give East End Homes a kicking they deserve.”

East End Homes signed a £22 million contract in 2006 to modernise Holland Estate, but no refurbishment has taken place, the council heard.

The families are calling for the local authority to enforce refurbishment which they say could last another 100 years—or take the Holland Estate back under council direct management.