French government learns from Hackney s groundbreaking Woodberry Down regeneration

THE French government has been learning from pioneering work going on at one of London’s biggest regeneration projects.

Two French Ministers of State visited Hackney’s Woodberry Down on Monday (3 March), to learn more about the £1 billion, 20-year flagship redevelopment.

The Ministers were particularly interested in Hackney’s groundbreaking, cost neutral approach to the project and also the training and employment opportunities that Hackney Homes have developed.

M. Roger Karoutchi, Secretary of State for Parliamentary Relations, and Mme. Fadéla Amara, Secretary of State for Urban Policies, were given a tour of the estate by the Woodberry Down Regeneration Team, and also chatted to residents.

Robin Smith, Woodberry Down Programme Director, later gave a Hackney overview and presentation on the project, after which the visitors enjoyed a lunch with residents.

The delegation was also given a tour of Hackney’s Nightingale Estate, which is also currently being regenerated in a partnership between the Council, Hackney Homes, Southern Housing Group, Bangla Housing Association and Nightingale Partnership Residents Association, to provide 1,080 homes.

It is the second time in recent months that representatives from the government of France have been to see the work going on at Woodberry Down first hand.

In December last year senior representatives from the Délégation Interministérielle à la Ville (DIV) visited and were keen to learn more about community cohesion plans, social infrastructure and intermediate housing products.

Cllr Jamie Carswell, Deputy Mayor of Hackney, said: “Woodberry Down residents can feel proud that the regeneration of where they live is attracting international approval as a groundbreaking example for other such large-scale projects to learn from.”

Woodberry Down is one of the government’s Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) Mixed Communities Demonstration Projects, and is set to provide more than 4,500 new mixed-tenure homes and transform one of Hackney’s most deprived areas.

The project will see the demolition of all the existing 2000 homes, and its Masterplan, by Shepheard Epstein Hunter, and approved by the planning authority last September, also provides for a brand new social infrastructure of community facilities and open space.

Berkeley Homes has been selected as the developer for the 1st phase of the project which will see a mixed tenure development of 1,250 new homes in an investment worth over £250 million.

The Woodberry Down Regeneration Team also brought together the 18 largest such schemes in the capital, holding the inaugural meeting of the London Major Projects Group last December at CLG’s offices which was hosted by Baroness Andrews.

The group will meet on a quarterly basis, to share knowledge and best practice, including scheme modelling and viability, managing change, and supporting communities, as well as strengthening links with central government to help add value to delivery.

Together, the projects span 10 London boroughs, and add up to more than 1,200 hectares - nearly the size of Kensington & Chelsea (1,215 hectares).