On the 27 October 2018, at a meeting between members of the Focus E15 Campaign and Rokhsana Fiaz, the Mayor of Newham, and members of her new administration, it was agreed that Architects for Social Housing would make a presentation to Newham council on the financial, social and environmental benefits of estate refurbishment and infill versus the costs of demolition and redevelopment. This presentation would present the findings from our report, The Costs of Estate Regeneration, which we had published in September and have since been presenting to various organisations across London. These included the inaugural Festival of Maintenance held at University College London; at a meeting of the Tulse Hill branch of the Labour Party; at a GovDesign meeting on Repair, Renovation and Maintenance; and to Len Duvall, the Greater London Authority Member for Greenwich and Lewisham and Leader of the Labour Party in the London Assembly. We have also been invited to present its findings to the Government’s Planning Advisory Service forum on Planning, Housing and Affordable Homes, which will be attended by council leaders, regeneration and planning officers from Brent, Havering and Merton in London, Milton Keynes, South Cambridgeshire, Manchester, Salford, Stockport, Southampton, West Dorset and other local authorities.
At the Newham council meeting the Mayor stated that she would be making a public announcement about the Carpenters estate in early December. We were pleased to note the Mayor’s commitment to consider all the options for the regeneration of the estate before proceeding, but concerned that the information on the costs of refurbishing the estate on Newham council’s website was inaccurate. On 8 November we wrote to Deborah Heenan, the Major Projects Director at the London Borough of Newham, to propose a meeting at which we could present our more accurate findings and discuss the possibilities available to the future of the Carpenters estate that are both financially viable to the council as well as socially and environmentally beneficial to residents and constituents.
Following on from our subsequent telephone conversation on 21 November, I wrote to Ms. Heenan explaining that it would be very useful for us if, prior to our meeting with Newham council, we could have clarification on a number of issues for which the information has not been made public. ASH has developed design alternatives to demolition for 6 housing estates in London, and on every one we were able not only to increase their housing capacity by around 50 per cent, but also to increase the supply of homes for social rent, rather than demolishing and replacing them with market sale, shared ownership, rent to buy and other forms of so-called ‘affordable’ housing required by the huge costs of demolition and redevelopment in today’s market. In order to better advise the new Mayor on the possibilities of refurbishment and infill on the Carpenters estate, therefore, we requested the following information.