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Future of east London council estate unclear as university campus plans fall through

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Future of east London council estate unclear as university campus plans fall through

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Communities, Education, Housing

Future of east London council estate unclear as university campus plans fall through Future of east London council estate unclear as university campus plans fall through

Plans to demolish a rundown east London housing estate and replace it with a world-class university campus have fallen through.

Newham Council announced this week that negotiations regarding the proposed University College London (UCL) development at the Carpenters Estate have ended without agreement.

UCL and Newham Council shared a vision of the university developing a new campus on Stratford's Carpenters Estate. This would have seen the development of a new, world class university quarter of the highest architectural quality forming an academic gateway to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

This vision would have delivered positive change for Newham residents through £1 billion of capital investment, the creation of thousands of new jobs in the local area and increased access to first class education facilities.

UCL and Newham Council entered into a joint memorandum of understanding in November 2011 and commercial negotiations started in October 2012.

This followed on from decisions made by Newham Council's Cabinet in 2004 and 2009 to decant and demolish the main tower blocks on the estate because of the prohibitive cost of refurbishment work.

This was an ambitious and extremely complex proposal and following intensive and lengthy analysis both parties were unable to agree commercial terms.

A spokesperson for Newham Council said: "UCL is one of the world's leading universities. We are disappointed that we were unable to bring UCL to the Carpenters Estate. The council remains supportive of UCL establishing a major presence in Stratford.

"We recognise that this decision will bring further uncertainty for residents of the estate. We have already written to every resident on the estate to explain these developments and invited them to discuss any concerns they may have.

"Newham Council remains committed to redeveloping the Carpenters Estate and will now explore other options to take this forward.

"A number of parties have expressed an interest in working with Newham Council to help regenerate the Carpenters Estate. These were not pursued while UCL and Newham Council were in exclusive negotiations. We will now reopen discussions with those and other interested parties."

The council's decision to regenerate the Carpenters Estate was set out in the Stratford Metropolitan Masterplan which was agreed in 2010.

The plan outlined the council's ambition for the area to be transformed into an integrated Metropolitan Centre for East London offering new opportunities for residents including 46,000 new jobs, 20,000 new homes, new schools, shops, leisure facilities, local services and better transport connections.

The plan also identified four key proposals, including taking forward the first phase of redevelopment of the Greater Carpenters Neighbourhood.

London Assembly Green Party member Darren Johnson has now called on the Mayor of London to step in and secure the future of the estate rather than demolishing it. The Mayor is Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation, which is the planning authority for the area covering the Olympic Park and surrounding land including the Carpenters Estate.

Darren Johnson AM said: “We need all the council housing we can get, we can’t keep replacing it with unaffordable luxury flats sold to investor landlords. The Mayor should step in to secure the future of the Carpenters Estate, ensuring it is refurbished and displaced residents can move back in.

“Demolishing the estate would be contrary to the wishes of the residents still living there, would disrupt what is left of a settled community, and would represent a huge waste of the materials and carbon locked up in those buildings.”

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