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.

Pepys estate

Status: Partial redevelopment - now complete



Completed in 1973, Pepys Estate originally had 1,324 homes across three 24-storey tower blocks and ten 8-storey blocks. The estate has seen several different programmes of funding for its regeneration, including Estate Action funding in the 1990s. In 2002, five of the mid-rise housing blocks on the estate were demolished and replaced with seven housing blocks managed by a social landlord. Completed in 2008, this scheme was criticised for not consulting residents and for the displacement of 222 council tenants from the original buildings who were not offered the right to return. Additionally, the estate lost council homes due to the sale of one of its tallest housing blocks (Aragon Tower) in 2002 to a private developer.

Key themes discussed in the interviews:

  • Residents have experienced several waves and phases of regeneration and attempts to fight against it.
  • Many expressed views that they were seeing a new type of resident in the area, noting that there are more young professionals and families moving in.
  • Interviewees often referenced the changing local shops and businesses, including the new-build properties on the estate that feature additional commercial space. These changes were seen to be providing for the changing demographic.
  • Aragon Tower (previously a council tower block, now privately owned) is a point of contention among residents and was frequently discussed as symbolic of the loss of council homes on the estate.
  • Residents recognised that the estate’s proximity to the River Thames is what makes it a desirable place to live, and that this added to the gentrification pressure attracting new people to the area.
  • In addition, the Convoys Wharf development was often mentioned. This development is adjacent to the estate and is currently under construction, and residents raised concerns about its potential future impacts.

Here is what some people said...

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Pepys estate resident
Leaseholder

"I think that certainly, as the place becomes more gentrified, which is happening as the new buildings are going up. I think the plan is to- I can’t say, people like to live by the river, and people who have money like to live by the river so I can see, that there certainly being pressured to do that and move the locals out."

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Pepys estate resident
Council tenant

"You see that building there, Aragon Tower. The average rent for a month in there is [£]2,500. The guy on the top pays [£]4,500 a month. The cheapest one bedroom there is [£]1,500 for one bed, kitchen and a bath set. That building is identical to this building here. But they just put a new face on it for the boys."

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Pepys estate resident
Council tenant

"Basically, if I could sum it all up, development is good, but if it's spread amongst the population, if it's spread amongst the people. The development is good if everybody is ... no one is left out, but everyone is inclusive [sic]. But as I see it right now, this whole project will become exclusive, for a specific group of people. Most of the people that live here are still going to remain in poverty and relative deprivation."

MOVING_ME project by Platform 7

A collection of photographs and stories contributed by residents of the Pepys estate that best represents how they feel about the structural and social change taking place around them.

Open the file
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The Tower: A Tale Of Two Cities - Part 1

A BBC documentary on the Pepys estate.

Watch
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Deptford is Changing - a creative exploration of the impact of gentrification

By Anita Strasser. ISBN: 9781527251588

Read
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