Regeneration Game: Woodberry Down on the up

Photograph of flats for private sale on the regenerated Woodberry Down Estate

Millionaires’ Row: Private Flats on Woodberry Down Estate
Pic: Koos Couvee

The gentrification story of Woodberry Down, the expansive Hackney housing estate, has now reached a national audience – making the G2 pages of the Guardian.

But readers to East London Lines will already be all-too-familiar with the story of residents being moved from their homes, council housing being destroyed, and ‘new builds’ being sold to overseas investors.

The initial regeneration plan, dating back to 2002, was one of the largest proposed throughout Europe and it was intended to revitalise an aesthetically bland area of the capital, as well as to provide much needed housing for local residents.

However, this is far from how things have turned out.

In 2010 East London Lines reporter Shade Lapite, put this video together to highlight the many difficulties faced by residents due to the project:

Two years later, in early 2012, Koos Couvee picked up the baton for East London Lines.

Koos Couvee spoke with residents about how the project was progressing and how it was affecting the neighbourhood – reaching this conclusion in February 2012 about social housing:

Despite the pressing need for affordable housing in Hackney, the regeneration process will not produce an increase in council flats. The estate used to consist entirely of social housing. Before demolition began, 67 per cent of homes on the estate were social rented flats, whilst 33 per cent of Woodberry Down residents were leaseholders through the Right-to-Buy scheme. According to Hackney Council, all secured tenants on the estate will be offered new tenanted property on estate and of 4,600 new homes, 41 per cent will be affordable homes. This is however a higher proportion compared to similar programmes in London. For instance, the Grahame Park estate in Barnet and the Ocean Estate in Tower Hamlets will contain 35 per cent affordable housing after regeneration.

Koos Couvee confirmed the fears that the regenerated properties were being specifically designed for foreign investors:

Berkeley Homes confirmed that over a hundred of the private flats in the lavish Riverside building have already been sold and will be ready for occupation this summer. Buyers are Asian property developers, local downsizers, young professionals and wealthy foreigners buying a flat for when their children come to study in the UK. The glossy brochure advertising the private flats features adverts for Harrods, Louis Vutton, Selfridges, haute couture and West End cuisine. And a three bedroom flat can cost up to £700,000.

(To read Koos’ article in full then please follow this link).

One such flat has now been sold for £1m – according to the recent Guardian article which was co-written by former East London Lines reporter Sophie Robinson-Tillet.

East London Lines will continue to cover every development of the Woodberry Down project very closely. To read more about what’s happening in Hackney follow this link.

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