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Eighty per cent of residents who live on the South Acton Estate in West London, which is undergoing one of the capital’s largest regeneration programmes, are choosing to stay on the estate and move to new homes being built there, according to a new research report.
The revitalisation of the estate, a mix of housing built in the decades following the Second World War, is transforming the lives of the residents of the South Acton estate in West London - where 2,500 new homes are being created, with 50:50 mix of affordable and private housing.
The report by Social Life and the University of Reading was commissioned by the joint venture partners delivering the regeneration - Countryside Properties and L&Q– two of the capital’s leading experts in regeneration, working with Ealing Council. The research examined how the £600m programme is affecting the 5,000 people living there. 1,800 outdated properties are being replaced to tackle overcrowding, poor quality housing and to design out crime on the South Acton Estate.
Researchers working on the report, “Measuring the Social Impacts of Regeneration in South Acton”, interviewed people living in the regenerated area, Acton Gardens, and also those still living on the South Acton estate. The three main areas of focus were residents’ views about the neighbourhood, influencing decisions and feelings about the regeneration. The main findings were:
Other key findings highlighted that more people were in favour of the regeneration plans than against, with positive responses to the design of the new housing at Acton Gardens. Others were worried about disruption and how changes would impact on the more vulnerable members of the community, with people living in sheltered housing and those living in the older part of the estate having the most negative feelings about regeneration. Housing affordability, new housing for existing residents and improvements to homes were the most important aspects of the regeneration for residents.
The social sustainability assessment shows that new housing in Acton Gardens is performing better than the existing estate in terms of amenities and infrastructure. However, it lags behind the South Acton estate for social and cultural life, with residents reporting a lower sense of belonging and weaker relationships with neighbours than residents of the South Acton estate.
Acton Gardens is now taking shape, with 2,500 new homes with 50 per cent affordable and 50 per cent private housing in tenure blind buildings, social and community facilities, including new public open spaces and improved access to public transport. The Acton Gardens project has been designed to deliver improvements while minimising impact on the existing community. The redevelopment is organised in phases and a community board has been formed, along with residents’ forums and housing surgeries. Alongside the new homes created so far, employment and training opportunities have been created, including a horticulture project to train young people to work in landscaping and gardening.
Countryside and L&Q are now using the results of the report to focus on four areas to help residents: offering more support to help people settle in and meet their neighbours; ensuring that people understand the re-housing process; providing facilities for local community organisations that offer informal but very important support services to the community and recognising the values that residents place on their relationships with friends and neighbours in the area.
Mike Woolliscroft, Director, on behalf of Countryside for the joint venture, said: “We feel proud that 80 per cent of existing residents are choosing to remain in the community and be rehoused at Acton Gardens. This project is one of the UK’s largest estate regeneration programmes and the report reflects the long-term commitment by Countryside, L&Q and Ealing Council. It highlights the importance of putting the residents at the heart of everything we do to make lives better. We now look forward to building on the success achieved so far by continuing to engage with the community in the remainder of the regeneration programme.”
Jerome Geoghegan, Group Director of Development at L&Q, said: “Regeneration is an evolutionary process and we are keen to measure its impact and learn from the findings of the report to deliver the very best results for the people who will call Acton Gardens home.”
Countryside and L&Q have a track record spanning 50 years of delivering major urban regeneration projects to create mixed-use and mixed-tenure schemes in partnership with public and private sector organisations, including local authorities, other housing associations and developers, and local communities. The transformation of Acton Gardens won the Regeneration Award and a Project Award at the prestigious Housing Design Awards earlier this year for West Park Quarter, a mix of private and affordable houses and apartments, a key part of the regeneration.