Regeneration of sprawling council estates is providing new housing options for first-time buyers and low-to-average earners.
A number of the capital's run-down big estates are getting a makeover or are being flattened to make way for stylish new housing with a mix of tenures - rent, shared ownership and private - which is a departure from the old public-sector model.
'The emphasis is on clusters of low-rise buildings and far more varied design'
In the UK, the concept of council housing has increasingly come to mean ghettos for poor people - unlike in, say, Singapore, where more than 80 per cent of the population live in homes provided by the government and benefit from state-subsidised mortgages, giving a wide social mix.
As always, architecture has a big part to play. High-rise estates from the Sixties and Seventies have been roundly condemned as a post-war housing aberration. Today, the emphasis is on clusters of low-rise buildings and far more varied design - houses with roof gardens, family flats and flexible "lifetime homes" that can be adapted to suit occupiers' changing needs.
Instead of bleak pedestrian subways, the computer images of soon-to-be transformed estates show open walkways and cycle paths connected to green space. Local employment is to be encouraged by on-site shops and eco-friendly commercial premises - linking in with David Cameron's Big Society agenda.
"We want outstanding architecture that raises the spirits of people who live there," says Paul Zara, director of architect Conran & Partners, which has helped masterplan the Green Man Lane Estate in Ealing.
This £136 million project involves bulldozing 464 homes and a multi-storey car park to make way for a new estate of 706 new homes. Housing association A2 Dominion will manage the first phase of 154 homes, due next year. To register, call 0800 783 2159.
Heygate Estate is part of the ambitious Elephant & Castle regeneration. Tenants have been moved out while 5,200 new homes are built across the 170-acre zone. Work has started on the first 610 flats, a partnership between Southwark council and five housing associations. Of these homes, 473 will be available for affordable rent, with the remainder for low-cost purchase and shared ownership. London & Quadrant is the main housing association. Visit lqgroup.org.uk, or call 0844 406 9000.
Packington Estate, close to Angel, in Islington, is bordered by gentrified Arlington Square and trendy warehouse buildings alongside Regent's Canal. Hyde Housing Association is remodelling the estate, which will have 300 new private homes around two new public squares. These will be released in March 2011.
Parmiter Street, in Bethnal Green, has apartments, duplexes and townhouses ranging from 891sq ft to 1,508sq ft available on a part-buy, part-rent basis. Prices start at £81,250 for the minimum 25 per cent shared-ownership stake. Homes are "open-market", meaning you do not have to be an existing council or housing association tenant to be eligible to buy, but the minimum income requirement is £27,234 a year. The homes have separate access to internal courtyards, playgrounds and sky gardens. Also, residents can rent rooftop allotments for growing food. Call Family Mosaic housing association on 020 7089 6340.
The redevelopment of Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington aims to end the north-south divide in the Royal Borough by reconnecting Portobello Road to Ladbroke Grove. The crumbling Seventies estate, which occupies a swathe of prime land cutting across these two roads, is being demolished and 900 new homes built. "It will no longer look like an estate but an integrated part of Kensington," says a council spokesperson.
As well as new homes, 20 new retail units on Portobello Road are being created. More than 300 of the new homes will be for private sale, with first-time buyers and local key workers having priority. Local estate agents say the run-down estate has blighted the area to the extent that prices are 40 per cent below those in neighbouring Notting Hill.
Queensbridge Quarter is the private sale component of the Holly Street estate regeneration in Hackney, once the heart of "murder mile" but now part of an improving patch close to the new Dalston Junction Tube station.
This RIBA award-winning scheme is a "fusion of European-style design and traditional East End housing". Unlike the Lego-like blocks of yesteryear, the scheme makes extensive use of solar energy and has distinctive projecting balconies and coloured-glass cladding. Properties currently for sale include 27 houses, a contemporary take on traditional terraces, with floor-to-ceiling windows at front and back.