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Populo Living's £1 billion Carpenters Estate masterplan approved

Image: CGI of Carpenters Estate, courtesy of Populo Living

Ambitious masterplan proposals for the Carpenters Estate have been unanimously approved by the Planning Decisions Committee of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), which signals the next chapter in one of London’s most exciting and largest estate regeneration schemes co-designed with local residents.

Following planning consent Newham Council will deliver 2,022 high-quality homes through its wholly-owned housing company Populo Living, and the masterplan confirms that 50% will be genuinely affordable homes.

As part of the Council’s Just Transition Action Plan in response to the climate emergency, over 300 existing homes (44 percent) on the estate will be retrofitted to the highest standard as Stratford becomes Newham’s first ‘Green Zone’ neighbourhood.

The masterplan includes over 10,000 sqm of commercial space and local amenities for cafes, restaurants, shops, and ‘makerspace’ workshop spaces to widen opportunities and create jobs. It will also create better connections for the Carpenters Estate with a clear route to the new step-free access entrance at Stratford Station coming soon.

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE said:

'Securing the restoration of the Carpenters Estate was my promise to residents when we secured an overwhelming 73% positive vote back in 2021. I’m really chuffed that we’ve been given the green light to get started on building desperately needed homes and restore Carpenters Estate into a vibrant neighbourhood with homes our people can afford. We’ll be looking at kick-starting the refurbishment of James Riley Point first, to deliver 132 social rent homes for our residents, along with a state-of-the-art community and sports centre for locals to enjoy.'

CEO of Populo Living, Deborah Heenan, added:

'In Newham like the rest of the country there is a dire need for somewhere safe, affordable, warm, and low carbon place to call home. In order to get that in a very constrained economy, Newham took the bold step to deliver its own regeneration directly using its own developer, Populo.

This means that we can deliver half the homes at genuinely affordable rent for those on very low incomes and manage the rest for residents on middle incomes, all coming together to a thriving refreshed community for Londoners of all ages and stages of life. Most importantly, keeping the estate firmly in Newham’s ownership means that we can deliver at pace and deliver the best for our residents, who are in effect our shareholders in over £1bn of investment.'

At our Future Cities Forum at Here East last September, Deborah was asked how important has it been for housing companies to work at their communications with communities? She commented:

'We have definitely felt that more honest conversations with our communities have been the way forward but often people are saying that it is too good to be true. Once the Olympics was finished, we had to ask ourselves about what was going on. There were 'posh boy' flats and only a small number of council homes being built and we don't want that. We wanted to do something different and a joint venture with the council.

'The development partner needs to make a profit and we need some 'posh boy' flats to subsidise developments. But we do need to build in a sustainable way because of floods in the future. We are having much better dialogues with our communities and asking them about their different needs. We need to create balanced communities, for different people and different ages. One family for instance is a perfect example. The grandparents are helping out with childcare so their daughter can go to work, otherwise she would be on the dole. So that's an example of community housing where families can live long term together, without young people feeling they have to move on.'

Above: Deborah Heenan, Populo Living, (third from the right in the picture) takes part in our housing discussion panel with Homes England, Hadley Property Group, Volterra, MICA Architects and The Bartlett, UCL.

Since the ‘Yes’ vote was secured, progress has been made in advancing the priorities of residents and fostering community wealth building on the Estate.

The Dovetail, the community hub established in the heart of the Estate, has played a pivotal role in delivering key community outcomes whilst the co-designed masterplan was being developed. Moreover, residents have been engaged in facilitating meaningful community activities, fostering confidence and skills through a for-residents-by-residents approach. Additionally, over 1,000 hours of community contact time has connected residents with essential Council services. This is in addition to a comprehensive community activity program that has offered locals opportunities to participate in sports, health, wellness, and cultural initiatives.

Populo has implemented a ‘Meanwhile Use’ strategy to ensure that residents can benefit from development sites across the Estate whilst they await construction. This strategic approach aims to enhance amenity spaces throughout the Estate and facilitate the implementation of the co-designed Masterplan. So far, the Estate has also undergone a visible transformation, including the revitalisation of various play spaces, the installation of brand-new seating, and the introduction of a 40ft community mural on Carpenters Road.

Further Meanwhile developments on the Carpenters are set to commence in the summer, with the appointment of Jan Kattein Architects to refurbish the former Tenant Management Office and Yes Make who are set to transform the green and play spaces on the Estate.


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