Shutters are being rolled down for the final time, neighbours are packing up their belongings and families saying goodbye to the road which they call home – the Marlowe Road estate is being emptied.

Soon, millions of pounds will be poured into the 50-year-old Walthamstow estate, to turn it into a ‘thriving’ part of E17.

Council homes will be torn down and re-built around a brand new plaza with retail units, modern flats and streets ‘lined with trees’.

Blocks of flats, some seven-storeys high, will take over the skyline in the Wood Street area and estate as it is now known, will be completely unrecognisable, after its £130m make-over.

 “It’s a phased development. It’s basically about regenerating the quality of the homes there,” Cllr Khevyn Limbajee, portfolio holder for housing said.

“Everyone who wants to come back to the estate will be able to.”

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Artist's impression of the view to the plaza in the new Marlowe Road estate 


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The shops, this week

At present, there are 298 council homes on the estate, including 100 in Northwood Tower. Of these, 150 will be demolished and re-built.

In 2010 an Estates Review named Marlowe Road as the ‘highest priority’ area for regeneration because it was run down and ‘badly designed’.

Council figures suggest 80 per cent of all residents thought the area was desperate for a cash injection.

But, to meet the high cost, the authority claims it must allow developer Countryside to build 280 more homes to ‘subsidise’ the regeneration.

Designs place a newer, bigger plaza as the ‘focus point’ of the entire estate.

Existing water features will be kept and the play area extended and accompanied by a new multi-use games space.

The council has confirmed the development will not be ‘car free’ but spaces will be limited.

As well as new shops, there will be some old faces doing business in the area.

Cafe bonito is being relocated onto Wood Street and Co-op will come back. The Post Office will also be staying.

Some, like the charity shop Cat Sanctuary, which has been in the borough for 16-years, will not return.

But, Cllr Limbajee denied claims some shops were not being helped to come back to the estate.

The council has also been criticised during the process of the consultation because the recently built playground, which cost £1.6m, paid for with GLA funding, will be removed.

“We knew the playground might only be temporary but we had to make a decision,” he said.

The play area will be re-designed and will be ‘better overlooked’ by homes, according to new designs and current equipment moved around the borough.

The building work will be carried out in three phases, the first set to begin in early 2016 and will continue into 2017.

And, the council is giving all residents the chance to return or move elsewhere in the borough.

Those who leave are handed a ‘disturbance allowance’ negotiated with every tenant.


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Designs for council homes in the new Marlowe Road Estate 


The designs have divided the large community in the area, from leaseholders to council tenants, and those who have set up shop in the area.

For some, the opportunity to get out of the estate was too good an opportunity to turn down.

Claudette Antoine, 38, moved from a second floor flat in Marlowe Road to a two bedroom house in Friday Hill, Chingford.

She said: “It was really good for me. It gave me and my children the chance to move into a house, they were really excited.

“I lived on the estate for eight years and it needs the regeneration, its run down.”

Samantha Campbell, 36, agreed.

 “When you’re in a council property it can be hard to get a house so I took the option to leave straight away,” she said.

“Most long standing residents took the option to move but there are a couple of my neighbours that are staying.”

However, there are 48 homes which have been purchased from the council under Right to Buy legislation.

The council must buy back all of these homes, but, if anyone chooses not to sell, their home will be placed under a compulsory purchase order (CPO) and they will be forced to.

For these families, the process is entirely more complex.

Melanie Briggs and her husband will soon be made an offer on their home.

The couple, who have a five-year-old daughter, feel they will not be able to afford to buy anywhere else in Walthamstow.

“It does feel like social cleansing. We have worked hard our entire lives to buy our home and now, if we want to come back to the area, we will have to have shared ownership with the council,” Mrs Briggs said.

“We were told what our neighbours were offered and if we get the same we won’t be able to buy anything like what we have in Walthamstow.”

 Cllr Limbajee said they will be offered a solution

 “We are offering leaseholders a market value price, plus ten per cent,” he said.

“If they want to return to the estate but cannot afford like for like, we are offering shared equity schemes.”

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The Marlowe Road estate was the 'highest proiority' for development in Walthamstow in 2010


Mark Himphen, 56, helped to create the communal gardens outside Northwood Tower in 1992.

He believes that under the designs the gardens will be surrounded by new flats or built on, with trees being removed for development.

“The council don’t want the indigenous families of Walthamstow here.

“It’s ok for them, they don’t live here. They want to build this ghetto around Northwood Tower and get rid of our trees and our communal garden.

“What about the older ladies in the block who can sit and look out at the gardens, they will have brick walls to look at soon.

“There’s a nice bit of land over the town hall, why don’t they start building there?”


Plans from developer Countryside want to turn Marlowe from this..

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Into this.. 

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But Cllr Limbajee believes the new estate will thrive.

“Social cleansing is an emotive word which is completely wrong for this regeneration,” he added.

“People who want to stay can stay. We are not changing the number of social homes. There are 150 now and there will still be 150 when we are done.”

The planning application from developers Countryside was submitted to the council last month and it is expected to go before the committee for a final decision in September or October.