Town Hall cap-in-hand for Whitehall cash to refloat the Ocean'
PUBLISHED: 23:35 03 April 2009 | UPDATED: 14:16 05 October 2010
TOWN Hall bosses are going cap-in-hand to Whitehall for cash to revamp the biggest housing estate in London's deprived East End. The building industry has put a £200 million tag on how much is needed to 'refloat' the sinking Ocean Estate
TOWN Hall bosses are going cap-in-hand to Whitehall for cash to revamp the biggest housing estate in London’s deprived East End.
Negotiators from Tower Hamlets council are keeping tight-lipped about how much they are asking for to rejuvenate Stepney’s massive Ocean Estate.
The building industry has put a £200 million tag on how much is needed.
Former Government Communities Minister Baroness Andrews has already pledged nearly £20m for the scheme, while the Town Hall itself is putting £14m into the pot. That would leave £166m to find.
The council has approached the Homes & Community Agency to help make up the huge shortfall.
“The cash we’re asking for would be a massive boost for our housing programme,” the council’s housing lead memberMarc Francis told the East London Advertiser tonight.
“It would help provide 600 affordable homes on the estate and maximise the number of low-rent social’ homes we can offer families.”
The council expects to find out later this month whether their bid has been successful.
DRUGS AND CRIME
They have been talking about regeneration’ for eight years, ever since the-then Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the Ocean estate when he pledged £56m to improve the decaying housing complex in an area ravaged by drugs and crime.
But the regeneration was delayed by years of Housing Choice’ controversy when Tower Hamlets was anxiously dumping its public housing onto private companies and trusts. The 10,000 people on the estate held out and voted overwhelmingly two years ago against being handed over.
Suddenly the Whitehall cash dried up—until a Government U-turn last year when a public outcry forced social housing back on the agenda.
But the contract to renew the sprawling estate along the Mile End Road has already been hit by a financial crisis when it was first put out to tender last year.
Two-out-of-three bids were withdrawn, the Guinness Trust partnership with Lovell house-builders and Circle Anglia Housing’s partnership with Willmott Dixon construction.
The sole remaining bid is a consortium of Bellway Homes, Wates Construction, First Base regeneration specialists and East Thames housing association.
The council is keen to get the project done and dusted before the 2012 Olympics, when marathon stars including Britain’s Paula Radcliffe pass along the Mile End Road on the way to the Games at Stratford.