London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs have opened the brand new Watts Grove development in Bow Common.
The borough has a population of more than 300,000 - one of the fastest growing in London and the new housing is a major step towards the Mayor’s target of providing 1,000 affordable homes.
Built on a brown field site that was a former council refuse lorry depot, Watts Grove provides affordable housing for 147 people with different needs including houses that can accommodate larger families, accommodation especially designed for disabled people and flats.
The 147 new homes will enable residents from the council’s waiting list to be accommodated in 4 brand new blocks of flats, 13 terrace houses and 13 disabled adapted properties enabling families to stay together in the borough. All the family size flats have 3 beds and two bathrooms.
The development was built by Mullaley and four apprentices from Tower Hamlets were included in the workforce building the development. The development will be managed by the council's managing agent Tower Hamlets Homes.
Around 45 per cent of the homes are suitable for families in a mix of three and four bedroom properties, while 10 per cent of the units are also accessible by wheelchair.
Under Project 120 - the council and its partners are committed to providing good quality homes to as many of the boroughs eligible residents as possible.
The council recognises that many families have particular needs that make it difficult for them to live comfortably in their current property, and they require a wheelchair home that is more suited to their family’s specific needs.
Other features in the development include a specially designed Under 5s Play Space, a 5-11 Play space and a Community Garden.
The development is a car- free scheme featuring over 100 cycle spaces for residents and has 100 per cent affordable housing, with 50 per cent Social Rent, 50 per cent Tower Hamlets Living Rent. The development has gated security, with lockable bollards throughout the estate.
Tower Hamlets has more than 19,000 people on the waiting list for housing. The development will house some of them and is indicative of the direction of travel of the council in attempting to tackle the housing crisis while also catering for specific needs.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said:
“The opening of Watts Grove is a really important and proud day for our borough. We’ve created 147 new affordable homes that cater for the distinct needs of our residents and keep families together in Tower Hamlets. This is the borough that built the first ever social houses in the UK. Recent figures show that Tower Hamlets is building the most homes affordable homes in London and I am delivering on my promise”.
The four flats pay tribute to the history of this area of the East End:
- Western –The original name of Western street in use until WW2 before being renamed Watts Grove
- Emeline –which honours Emeline Pankhurst
- Santis –a trading house on the site until the early 20th century
- Tallow –reflecting a factory on the site producing “tallow” an animal by product found on candles and in the new £5 note.
Watts Grove families share their stories
The Khalique family, Pankhurst Avenue, Watts Grove
Dad Abdul and Mum Nargis and their five children have all been able to stay together in the borough and now live in a house on the Watts Grove development.
“We're delighted to be able to all live together in the borough as we know how expensive housing is. Previously we lived in cramped and unsuitable accommodation elsewhere in the borough. Now we live here and are very happy.”
Eric and Susan Murdoch - Mary Le Bow Way, Watts Grove
Sue, who uses a wheelchair and Eric recently took possession of their new property at Mary Le Bow Way. It is designed to be wheelchair accessible and has adapted accessible bathrooms and wide corridor and kitchen space.
As Sue explains:
“This place is everything I need. It’s marvellous for me and I really like it. I can now go to the toilet and live my life more independently. I can do things in the kitchen which I haven’t been able to do for years. It’s given me more liberty and saves me having to call on my husband and family for help all the time.”
Husband Eric added: “The home we’re now in is a fully wheelchair adapted property. It's everything we ever wanted and we have waited ten years for the property. So to move in has made us very happy indeed”.
Faslay Chowdery, Mary Le Bow Way, Watts Grove
“I used to live in a fifth floor property which for mobility was a nightmare to be honest. I now live with my wife and two children here at Watts Grove. It’s wheelchair accessible. The whole property is designed for wheelchair living and there is an electric charging point for my wheelchair so I can do everything myself. I’m very happy and my family is happy!”
Kalton Hirsi: Housing Occupational Therapist
“Project 120 is a project to make the accommodation fully wheelchair accessible for residents who need that. We worked with the developers and planners and ensure wheelchair standards are met and any adaptation is done. After they move in we check with residents to see how well they have settled.”
Apprentice: Jamil Rahman Carpenter
24 year old Jamil was unemployed until he was given an opportunity to start work as an apprentice with K10 apprenticeships. He worked on the Watts Grove development as a carpenter. Jamil was involved at the start of the build in 2015 and helped set the foundations of the build and saw it develop all the way through to the final fit out this year.
He has now found employment working as a self-employed carpenter currently with a sub-contractor Maplewood carpentry who work on commercial developments across London.
“I’m really proud to see this development come into use. My work on Watts Grove developed me as a person and as a professional and gave me the skills to move on in my career. Now I have regular work in a job I really enjoy and look forward to the future.”
Watch our video of the launch of Watts Grove.
Posted on Wednesday 6th September 2017