Plans to demolish the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate in Poplar were approved by Tower Hamlets Council at a meeting of its Strategic Development Committee yesterday.
The decision to demolish the estate, on which there are 214 flats, was made as part of a larger £500-million proposal to regenerate the Blackwall Reach area.
Blackwall Reach, in Poplar, includes Robin Hood Gardens, Woolmore Street, Mackrow Walk and Anderson House. The committee voted to reconsider plans to demolish and redevelop the historic nearby Woolmore School.
The regeneration proposal includes plans to build 1,575 homes, of which approximately 700 will be reserved for social housing and shared ownership.
Mohammed Abu Yousuf, chair of Robin Hood Gardens Tenants and Residents Association, told EastLondonLines he was “very pleased” with the council’s decision.
He said: “I look forward to the consultations so the plans can move forward. It will be positive for the local area as it could bring jobs, new flats, new homes and better green space.”
The plans include replacement homes for those who own homes or are council tenants in the area. A relocated mosque, new shops and more open space will also be part of the project.
The redevelopment is managed by Swan Housing, who have worked in collaboration with the council and the Homes and Communities Agency to develop the plans.
As part of the scheme the developers have promised a £900,000 donation to Tower Hamlets Primary Care Trust and a £2 million contribution toward improvements to Blackwall DLR station.
Speaking after the committee’s decision, Jackie Odunoye, Acting Director for Development and Renewal at Tower Hamlets Council, said the application had taken “a major step closer to becoming a reality.”
She said: “The outline application represents an excellent opportunity to address residents’ needs in particular and improve the quality of life for people in the area generally.”
The Robin Hood Gardens estate, built in 1972, is regarded as a fine example of Brutalist architecture, and opinion has been divided over the plans to demolish it.
The Twentieth Century Society, which aims to safeguard Britain’s architectural heritage, along with Building Design magazine had lobbied for the estate to become a listed building, which would have prevented it from being demolished. However, in 2009 English Heritage granted it immunity from being listed for five years.
The Twentieth Century Society’s director Catherine Croft called the plans “short-sighted and unimaginative.” While London-based architect Thomas Stoney Bryans told EastLondonLines: “The demolition is deeply unsustainable on a number of levels, both culturally and environmentally.”
He said: “Robin Hood Gardens is hugely significant in terms of 20th-century British architectural history, and it’s current proposed replacement seems desperately uninspiring and lacking any particular merit by comparison. ”
The application will now be passed on to London Thames Gateway Development Corporation and the Greater London Authority planning committees for further approval.