Researching regeneration

Research led by the University of Leicester with King’s College London shows the devastating impact of ‘regeneration’ on London’s council estate communities.

Carpenters estate

Status: Proposal Stage



The Carpenters Estate is near to the Queen Elizabeth (Olympic) Park, Stratford, in the London Borough of Newham. The estate was completed in 1970, providing 710 homes. Plans for its regeneration have been under consideration since 2000, with several buildings earmarked for demolition and the decanting of residents having started in 2005/06. Three tower blocks on the estate have been emptied of council tenants, though some leaseholders remain. The lower rise buildings continue to be occupied by a mixed community of council tenants, leaseholders and freeholders and this remains a strong and supportive community.

To save the estate from demolition, Carpenters Against Regeneration Plans (CARP) was formed by residents of the estate in 2011. Carpenters Community Plan was published in 2013 and the Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood Plan in 2019, both of which propose a bottom-up community based approach to planning the future of the estate.

Newham Council is carrying out an options appraisal with residents on the estate, each option involving a varying degree of demolition. A ballot is due to be held some time in 2020.

The Planning Inspector’s report on the Local Plan (London Legacy Development Corporation) published in April 2020 found against the demolition of the Carpenters estate and said: “Although the formal residents ballot is yet to take place, it is highly likely from all the written representations and spoken contributions at the hearing sessions, that most residents in the Greater Carpenters area are expressing the wish to remain where they live now and would resist comprehensive redevelopment and the inevitable disruption and community displacement….”

More information on the Carpenters Community Plan can be found in Staying Put: An Anti-Gentrification Handbook for Council Estates in London, produced by The London Tenants Federation, Professor Loretta Lees, Just Space, and SNAG.

Key themes discussed in the interviews:

  • The estate’s residents describe its regeneration as having gone on for a long time with very little resolve in sight.
  • Residents have been moved out and several buildings remain empty, creating a ‘ghost town’ and a feeling that the estate has been intentionally depopulated and degenerated to favour redevelopment.
  • Whilst some residents have moved away, there has been a long term resistance to the estate’s regeneration. Keeping the community together is an important priority.
  • The area is experiencing social change, the new-build homes that border the estate, in particular, are described as being for ‘foreign’ investors and outsiders, not locals.
  • The Olympic Games and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Westfield shopping centre, Stratford International and other train links, are all seen to be adding to gentrification pressures on the estate.

Here is what some people said...

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Carpenters estate resident
Leaseholder

"Yeah, so, you know, if you want to do something in the home, home improvements, that is on hold. Because you don’t want to be spending money, and then next month we have to move out, so that’s on hold. It is like, it is just hanging up in the air, not knowing what is going to happen, and it has been like that since 2006."

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Carpenters estate resident
Council tenant

"The bad side is the great packing and it is stressing me out mentally and physically. Because I've got a lot of junk. You know? It is stressing me out mentally and physically, and the place is very cold because nothing works in this flat. The boiler doesn't work, the central heating doesn't work, I've got no hot water."

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Carpenters estate resident
Private tenant

"I am worried since then, I am really worried, where am I going to end up? Because I have no idea where I am going to end up. And all of the people living around, they don't know where they are going to end. Because the whole point, is the Council actually decides. That is what I say, they play with, they play with games with our lives. At least they should let us choose the places."

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Carpenters estate resident
Freeholder

"The grass was overgrown, boarded-up buildings, and I thought this is what they want the world to see. Do you know what I mean? Because one day, we were walking out, and I walked out that way, to the back, and that small block, it was all, it was almost like it was a ghost town. All of these boarded-up buildings, and I thought, this is, and I walked around, you saw more and more and it was like, where am I living? It’s just wasn’t the same place, and your heart sunk. Your heart just sunk it was like, this isn’t the Carpenters Estate anymore. But that is what they want you to feel."

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Carpenters estate resident
Leaseholder

"… And then they started decanting people. It felt like, of course very upsetting [sic]. Because, my plan was to, you know, I am a leaseholder, so, while I was working I purchased the flat, and slowly tried to pay it off. And then have this as my retirement flat, and live here. But all of that has been disturbed. And the process was quite bad, they were trying to knock at the door without any notification. They will just drop the card, saying ‘Can you contact us’? And people who spoke to them, they were kind of threatening as well. They were giving, saying to people that you indirectly, you know... trying to push them out."