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The Aylesbury Estate in Southwark – which has 2,700 homes for around 10,000 people in 40 hideous concrete tower blocks – is one of the largest estates in Europe. Southwark Council has begun a scheme to demolish it to regenerate the area. Crime is rife and politicians and film makers would use the estate to epitomise the failures of the 1960s Council estates. Harry Brown, Michael Caine's film released last year, was set there.

Despite its scale the current estate is relatively low density. Often these big estates are surprisingly low density. John Moss has written about the disctiction between high density and high rise.

This redevelopment will mean 4,200 new homes. The existing Council tenants will have better homes. The whole thing would be paid for by selling the extra homes. So instead of residents being ghettoised they will have the chance to live in thriving mixed community. I'm afraid the new housing would still not the sort of thing the Prince of Wales would approve of but the plans certainly look a lot less ugly than what is there at present.

This year Labour gained control of Southwark Council from a Lib Dem/Conservative coalition. But the new administration is still supporting the redevelopment.


Cllr Fiona Colley, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, says:

"This is a really important moment in the history of this area, but even more importantly, it's a momentous time for the people who live here.

"The new homes appearing on this site will be better for those who move in, and what looks like a building site today will become a brand new landscape for this part of London. This development marks a milestone for social housing of national significance, both in its physical size and in the extent of the change."

Good for her. But I wonder what my local Labour MP, Andrew Slaughter, makes of it all. He was elected after a thoroughly dishonest campaign about our similar (although rather more modest and tentative) plans for estate revelopment in Hammersmith and Fulham. His scare mongering declared that tenants would "lose their homes" and be moved to Barking.

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