In August 2007, 84% of Mardyke Estate tenants voted to transfer their run down estate from Havering Council to Old Ford Housing Association, a Circle partner Registered Provider (RP) that owns and manages nearly 3500 properties in East London.
The ballot result triggered investment of £80 million on the total redevelopment of the estate over five years and has enabled a regeneration programme to take place that will revitalise the local area.
Alan Townshend, Assistant Director, Business Growth, oversaw the Mardyke stock transfer. He said, “The Mardyke Estate is a 1960s estate, situated just off the A13 in Dagenham. The housing is a mix of high rise and low rise flats, many of which are outdated bedsits.
“Over the years, the 550 flats on the estate have become increasingly dilapidated, becoming a place that few people wanted to live, despite long housing waiting lists in the borough. Mardyke earned a notorious reputation for its crime levels, incidences of anti social behaviour and increasing drug problems.”
Circle was awarded the management contract for the Mardyke Estate in 2005. It quickly sought to establish a presence on the estate, making itself accessible to tenants with housing issues and consulting the resident steering group on how they wanted to improve services for tenants.
Alan continued, “We attended tenant meetings to answer questions about the management of the estate and estate days designed to tackle bulk refuse collection and repairs on the estates were organised. We sent out a regular Mardyke News newsletter to keep tenants up to date with the services that Circle could offer and relay news about the estate.”
To further raise its profile on the estate, Circle also worked with Newtons Primary School to ensure that pupils in Mardyke could continue to enjoy healthy breakfasts by funding its well used Breakfast Club.
“We were impressed by how quickly Circle was able to reach the tenants and get to grips with the work that desperately needed to be done on the estate” says Jonathan Geall, Housing Needs and Strategy Manager, London Borough of Havering, “the team undertook walkabouts of the estate on the first Wednesday of every month to give residents the opportunity to come and chat to them and point out any problems on the estate. This gave them an instant visibility on the estate.”
It was due to its hard work establishing itself on the estate and building relationships with the tenants that Circle was chosen as the preferred partner when the council decided to proceed with a stock transfer ballot. “Circle was the obvious partner to proceed to stock transfer with. The team had made such impressive in-roads in dealing with the management of the estate and had exactly the kind of experience required to carry out the regeneration we had planned for Mardyke.”
The Circle Business Growth team arranged for the Mardyke Steering Group to visit Old Ford estates in Tower Hamlets to see for themselves the kind of regeneration scheme that could take place and evidence of how the organisation could deliver this type of project. Alan says, “Other RPs pitching to become preferred partners simply couldn’t demonstrate evidence of similar successful projects.”
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