Blackwall Reach:first look at the new homes set to replace run-down Tower Hamlets council estate - and London buyers will get first choice

The demolition of a dilapidated concrete council estate in Tower Hamlets, opposed by architects but supported by the majority of the residents, will finally begin this autumn after a nine-year battle to save it — and Homes & Property has the first images of the new development.

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Robin Hood Gardens, a brutalist post-war estate close to the north side of the Blackwall Tunnel, is at the heart of a 20-acre site where almost 1,600 new homes will be built over the next decade. A high-profile campaign to preserve its two run-down modernist apartment buildings caused lengthy delays in the project.

But finally, developer Swan Housing Association is ready to start the main works on the site, having seen off attempts to win the estate listed status which would have prevented it being torn down.

Once the first building has been bulldozed it will be replaced by 268 flats in four mid-rise blocks arranged around a park. The tallest of the blocks will be 24 storeys high.

Unusually, locals will be offered the first chance to buy the homes when they go on sale next year. After three months buyers from across London will have the next three months to select a property. Only after this will the homes be offered to buyers and investors from the rest of the UK and from overseas.

The new buildings, seen today for the first time, are designed by architects Metropolitan Workshop and Haworth Tompkins, and a planning application has just been lodged with Tower Hamlets council.

Geoff Pearce, executive director of regeneration and development at Swan Housing Group, described the designs as both beautiful and sustainable. “We think that … [the architects’] plans provide an inspired and deliverable redevelopment plan for the next phase of regeneration of Blackwall Reach,” he said.

The first residents will be able to move into the new flats in 2019.

Around half of the homes at Blackwall Reach will be affordable properties aimed at both first-time buyers who have been priced off the housing ladder, and tenants struggling to pay high private rents.

Robin Hood Gardens was designed by husband-and-wife architects Alison and Peter Smithson and completed in 1972. Its two mid-rise blocks contain 213 flats surrounded by open space. The demolition was supported by the majority of residents, but opposed by a group of leading architects including Lord Rogers.

He said of the estate: “It is as good, if not better, than any modern building in Britain. If one looks beyond the present condition of the landscape and the building of Robin Hood Gardens, one can still see the original concept which combined a heroic scale with beautiful, human proportions.”

While appreciating the architecture, the residents would prefer modern homes.

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