Monday, 8 December 2008

Chopped Potato : Estate of mind

With the police chap the other day acting more excited at the prospect of the estate being demolished than with kicking out a few squatters, I thought it worthwhile to take a look into the story of the estate. Just what is going on here?

It turns out that where we live is quite famous. An eighties soul singer took his stage name from the name of the estate. It also turns out that where we live is part of a much larger sprawling housing estate, consisting of council blocks and terraced houses, and conceived in the 1950s as "the showpiece of modern social housing". Here is a map of the estate (with the street names blurred out):

And it is that estate that is getting all the media coverage.

And not just any old media coverage. The BBC have been at, telling everyone it's a great place to buy heroin in 2001, and updating us all in 2004. The Independent also wants you to know about da drugs. Never mind the thriving community that still lives here, but ho hum. Leave it to a group of artists to report on the sunny side of change in the community.

One of the prominent construction industry journals has also been at it, but this time to report more recent news concerning the future of redevelopment (thanks to much-needed consortium investment pulling out). The local press sadly confirm this.

When former PM Tony Blair visited the estate in 2001, redevelopment was heralded as the saving grace for the estate. Cramped conditions, buildings in disrepair and a hotspot for crime have plagued this community for decades.

The refurbishment of existing homes, the construction of new flats to replace crumbling council blocks and the development of new shopping parades would give the area a much needed morale boost and create an uplifting neighbourhood. But the community has yet to see any of this in the years since.

Whilst a delay in development is of course good news for the squatters here, it is important that we think of the residents we live among. It is these people we need to hope for, not ourselves.