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Shadow minister visits Tower Hamlets to discuss housing challenge

44The multi-million pound Blackwall Reach regeneration project in Tower Hamlets has been hailed as an innovative response to urban living.
Labour’s Shadow Housing and Planning Minister, John Healey MP met Mayor John Biggs, senior officers, and councillors, as part of a visit to see how Tower Hamlets Council is rising to the challenge of the housing crisis on 3 March.
The former Minister of State for Housing visited the old Robin Hood Gardens estate, where a £300 million scheme, will deliver more than 1,500 new homes over the next ten years, replacing the existing 252 homes. The Blackwall Reach scheme is being delivered in partnership with Swan Housing Group and the Greater London Authority.
The development will also include new community facilities, commercial units and improved green open spaces.
The first phase which was completed last summer resulted in 98 new homes, a multi-purpose community facility, housing office for Swan and a replacement mosque. Residents have already moved into the new homes in Camellia House and Blashill Court. Nearby Woolmore Primary School was also rebuilt last year.
Mr Healey said: “I welcomed the opportunity to hear about how Tower Hamlets Council are dealing with the housing challenges their residents face. Locally-led regeneration schemes like Blackwall Reach can revitalise local areas and create new affordable homes. Tower Hamlets is showing what councils can do with limited space but high aspirations.”
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs added: “We have a growing population and providing homes and essential services is a real challenge. The Blackwall Reach scheme has shown what can be achieved with good partnership working and engaging fully with residents from the start.”
“We have a long way to go and the council is seeking every opportunity to maximise on building more genuinely affordable homes and creating real neighbourhoods.”
The MP was also briefed on the council’s ‘Whitechapel Vision’, another ambitious scheme in the heart of the borough which aims to deliver 3,500 new homes by 2025, including a substantial number of family and affordable homes. The reshaping of Whitechapel Town Centre also includes major improvements to public spaces, roads, alongside new shopping and leisure opportunities.
The council has also secured £7 million from its Right to Buy receipts and will work with housing associations to deliver around 70 homes at social rents, as part of Mayor Bigg’s pledge to deliver 1000 new council homes.
Cllr Sirajul Islam, statutory deputy mayor and cabinet member for Housing added: “We are working hard to build more genuinely affordable homes in the borough and to also improve existing council homes to improve residents’ quality life.”