Council estate of mind

Please allow me to extend the borders of my blog just a little, and point you in the direction of this article in The Independent about life on the Aylesbury Estate, the enormous sinkhole just north of Burgess Park.

In 2004, 28 per cent of residents felt “very unsafe“in or around the area after dark. The crime rate in 2002 was 408 crimes per 1,000 residents, compared with 171 for Southwark. Vehicle crime is almost double the Southwark average (57.4 per 1,000, compared with 29.8). Twenty six per cent of all crime is committed by 10 to 17-year-old males, compared with Southwark’s 20 per cent.

Aylesbury has mortality rates 33 per cent above the national average for both children and adults, and high rates of teenage pregnancy and abortion.

Author: Peter

Long-time resident of Camberwell, author of this blog since July 2004.

7 thoughts on “Council estate of mind”

  1. Living on Southampton Way I use the 343 to go through the estate to get home and it’s nice to see it get some coverage they might help it’s plight.

    Having said that, I walk through it a lot when I’ve been out in E&C and it’s not that bad.

  2. I cycle past this estate daily and while it doesnt look too bad, i can appreciate the problems that must exist on this estate. Reading that article emphasizes that this estate has more akin with the 3rd world than London.

    This estate is one of the largest in London and recently had a report about its unsafeness… allegedly a gas explosion can bring down large parts of the buildings. Another recent report suggested using waste produce (methane i guess?) as heating methods.

    It is shocking that in this day and age people must live in conditions like this.

    One positive factor from the article i thought was the massive improvement in education, this is some hope, but once educated there still seems to be lack of potential employment.

    With crime so high, it is not surprising people live in fear. Where crime has become so institutionalised i believe it would take a while for it not to become the norm, but with no education, little chance of a job, and no chance of getting off the estate, it is not too surprising people here resort to crime…

  3. I also live near Southampton Way and go through the estate on the 343 as well as on foot and by bike on occasion. I think it looks horrendous. I don’t remember really seen anything worse, even when travelling in Eastern Europe (and that includes places well off the tourist track, like the suburbs around the old FSO car factory in Warsaw).

    I think the design of the buildings has to be big a factor in the problems on the estate. New school buildings these days attempt to “design out” problems through better use of natural light and space, and not creating ready-made bullying hotspots through poor location of lockers, etc. And so it should be with residential buildings.

    £56 million is not going to go far at all — especially when spent by a local council, some would say. I think the estate needs redeveloping somehow, but I really can’t see all the sides agreeing on how best this should be done. Demolishing all or part of the estate is likely to mean less housing available in the area redevelopment, forcing Southwark to re-house existing tenants elsewhere in the borough — and it’s difficult to see the money for a massive redevelopment unless bits of the site are used to site new private sector housing.

    What I find remarkable is that despite the fact that 7500 people live there, I hardly see anyone getting on or off a bus there if I pass through the estate on a 343 in rush hour. Improving the education on the area is a start, but I think living on housing benefit has become more institutionalised here than crime. Without wanting to come across as right-wing (which I’m not) this does touch on the whole debate about the benefits trap, and lack of local role models, etc. As all us Londoners know, the city’s population has risen from a past-war low of 6.7 million in 1989 to around 7.4 million now. A very high proportion of the people who’ve moved to London in the last 15 years are in paid employment, but many people who’ve grown up in London remain unemployed. Contrary to some popular perceptions of London vs various towns in the north of England, although large numbers of jobs have been created in London in recent years, the unemployment rate in London is still higher than the national average. Thank god for immigration — without it, London would likely be in decline. (Michael Howard may not agree, but he’s free to do what Mark Thomas recently suggested — apply his policies retrospecively and deport himself.)

    Ultimately the estate will have to change, but I think it may be another 10 years after the Heygate estate redevelopment. Of course, the area’s fortunes might be somewhat interlinked with the Cross River Tram — if TfL ever pull their collective fingers out and build it. The current proposal has the tram serve Walworth via Heygate Street, Rodney Road and Thurlow Street before it heads south to Peckham…

    Mark — you don’t cycle in from Dulwich by any chance, do you?

  4. 7500 people living on that estate is mind-boggling! You are right, there are never that many people around and there are barely any services/amenities around there for that many people…

    The Tram is a great idea, “Could be operational by 2013” according to http://www.tfl.gov.uk/trams/initiatives/crt/index.shtml
    BUT… as Trams move along roads, i can just foresee as many traffic problems with trams as there are with buses now…

    I actually cycle from Camberwell, not Dulwich.

  5. i live on the aylesbury i love my flat,but i do not believe 73 per cent voted for it to stay up there is not 73per cent living on the aylesbury that can speak english let alone vote

  6. I’ve not been able to access the article yet but will.

    I have never lived on a council estate but have done next to several in North, East and South East London in accommodation that has been far less salubrious than my mates that do live on estates. I have been smitten with the estates since I arrived in London (2000).

    I am researching the estates of Southwark and Lewisham at the moment and have consequently been walking all over them for the last 9 months. I have done this alone (funnily enough because I can’t coax anyone to come along) and thus generally in day light.

    In all of the time I have been ruining my shoes I have had a five scarry situations from which I came away a little shaken but unharmed. These occasions have all been when I have not been discreet enough with my camera or when my curiosity has overcome my common sense.

    Every other interaction I have had with anyone on the estates has either been positive or downright funny. (Pack of 13 year olds following me about asking me if im a cop — I never thought I would ever be suspected of being in that line of work!)

    I know that just about every stat you read is the stuff of nightmares but find it really hard to believe that I have — as I am told repeatedly- been really lucky.

    Showing a bit of respect and interest in people has saved my arse one each occasion so far.

    I want to see the estates improved not gentrified. I want the asbestos and the crime and the fear and the hoplessness of some residents to be a thing of the past. Unfortunatly I can’t see knocking down the Heygate or any other estate, relocating people and disrupting there lives is going to help much. At the same time nor is a bit of cladding and a couple of trees.

    They are knocking down the Coopers Road Estate (Southwark) off the Old Kent Road at the moment. Peabody Trust and Southwark Council have allocated only £16m for the redevelopment. Like that is going to go very far.

    Last time I was there I saw a small soft toy hangging by a noose from one of the higher floors of the towere block. I would like to know which other underpriviliged bit of london the witty resident who put it there has been moved to. Or was the toy left behind when the residents were moved on and later hung by the person who wrote the grafiti saying “squat the world” along the perspex on the outer balcony.

    End of what seems to have turned into a personal essay.

  7. its a nightmare living here mainly due to the housing office where there seems to be more cowboy workmen then anything else, there emergency repairs are none excisting, and when you do get someone on the phone usually an african they get it all wrong, i have a bad leak and keep telling them its like talking to myself

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