Demolition has begun on the £95 million Park East redevelopment in Erith, south-east London.
The project, which is being delivered by Wates Residential and Orbit, in partnership with the London Borough of Bexley, will see 320 new homes built, of which 80 per cent will for affordable rent and shared ownership to ensure a mixed, aspirational and sustainable community for local residents.
It comes after Wates Residential and Orbit completed six years of work on the nearby Larner Road estate, transforming it into the award-winning, mixed tenure community Erith Park and delivering 587 new homes.
Team members from both organisations came together with guests from the London Borough of Bexley and former residents at a special demolition event on Wednesday to mark the significant step forward for the project. Work is expected to be completed by 2023.
Two of the guests were Erith-born Doreen and Mick Weekes, who shared some of their favourite memories of the area. The couple, who have six grandchildren and six great grandchildren, moved into their three-bedroom maisonette on the estate, which used to be known as Arthur Street, just 18 months after they were built. They went on to enjoy 50 happy years in the property, raising two children amongst friends and neighbours.
Mick remembers teaching young children from the area DIY and helping to coach the Thamesmead sailing club to victory at the London Youth games. He also shared how he had used a horse drawn plough along the Northend Road.
As part of the demolition process, Orbit helped residents find new homes close to the area. When Orbit found a two-bedroom house in Belvedere for Doreen and Mick, Doreen cried for joy. Mick said:
Now were settled in our new home we love it. Its cosy, quiet and weve got our own garden at last. We can still enjoy our memories of the time we lived at Arthur Street!
As part of the venture, Wates Residential and Orbit have also pledged to kick start training opportunities for local residents by hiring at least 31 apprentices and at least 25 people in full time employment from the local area.
Another of the unique training and employment initiatives that Wates Residential has brought to Erith is its Building Futures programme, which helps unemployed adults gain valuable practical experience and employability coaching to reinvigorate their career prospects. Seven students recently graduated from the two-week course having gained hands on experience of a construction site.
Glen Roberts, Operations Director for Wates Residential, said:
The start of demolition is a significant moment for the Park East development, which will deliver hundreds of high quality new homes and a lasting legacy for the area.
We are pleased to have been able to join together with our partners Orbit and the London Borough of Bexley to hear from residents about their fondest memories of the area. We are looking forward to the community being able to make new memories in Park East over the coming years.
Caroline Field, Head of Regeneration for Orbit, commented:
Were delighted Doreen and Mick could join us and to hear they are happily settling in their new home. We moved over 250 households from the old Arthur Street estate and aimed to find all of them a better quality home.