Estate Renewal To See Old Buildings Demolished

Many an inner city estate around the country has seen better days, but a number of councils are at work with big plans to revive them, often with radical ideas to demolish and rebuild some areas altogether.

This is certainly true in London, where many aesthetically questionable relics of the modernist era now pose a problem, offering poor living conditions and an ugly appearance that makes them anything but desirable places to live.

Tower Hamlets is one such authority, with plans to transform the Clichy Estate in Stepney being overwhelmingly supported by residents (98 per cent in favour on a 93 per cent turnout) and now gaining planning permission. Under the £80 million project, three ageing tower blocks will be demolished and 412 new homes designed by architects PRP will be built in their stead.

Project manager at Tower Hamlets Winnie Osei expressed delight at the outcome, commenting: “A significant amount of work was involved in securing the positive decision, ranging from the continued engagement with residents, and working closely with the design team, particularly PRP.”

She added: “This has culminated in a scheme to be proud of from the perspective of design, place making and building high quality homes.”

Naturally, the plans for the new homes are exciting: modern, energy efficient, designed to be car free to encourage public transport use, with 42 per cent designed to be affordable and 56 per cent designed for larger families. There will also be a new park and dedicated facilities for those with limited mobility.

First, of course, the existing buildings must be removed. The use of hydroblasting concrete removal may play a significant role in the demolition of the old structures, not least as an impediment to using explosives in demolishing large concrete buildings in a densely populated urban area is the disruptive impact on the area in terms of noise, dust and possible road closures.

Because the nature of the surrounds is a key factor when planning demolition, this is an issue that will be relevant in the case of the Clichy Estate and many others being renewed in high-density urban areas.

This means the process will involve the more painstaking use of excavators, sledgehammers, cranes and wrecking balls. The use of hydroblasting can play a major role in this, removing concrete that is laid over metal frames or difficult to access in other ways.

By law, every new building has to come with a plan for how it will be demolished. However, in practice this plan can be disrupted both by significant changes to the local environment, such as rapid urbanisations, as well as developments in demolition technology.

Other London estates being transformed include much larger projects than at the Clichy Estate. For example, in January planning permission was granted for a £485 million project at the Cambridge Road Estate in Kingston-upon-Thames. This will see large parts of the estate demolished and rebuilt, with the first phase alone providing 452 new homes.

When the project is completed, a total of 2,170 new residences will be in place, providing enhanced modern living conditions for residents.

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