The Crossways estate (also known as the Devons Estate) is a 1970s council estate in the Bow area of London. When completed, it was known locally as the 'Pride of Bow' with its three 25 storey tower blocks.
The estate comprises of three tower blocks, towering 25 storeys over the local area, and one low-rise block, providing a total of 298 homes. The development rests in a former railway cutting below the level of the surrounding streets and the towers are reached by a series of access bridges with 22 1 & 2 storey maisonettes (Holyhead Close) built over the DLR.
It is now both in poor condition and a poor state of repair. It is unpopular with many existing and prospective residents. The bridges and walkways are the sole means of crossing the estate and what appears to be attractive and green open space below is a "no go" area for many residents.
Almost half of the properties in each of the tower blocks are 3 bedroom family size units, including those on the higher floors, many of which contain families and overcrowding is a common issue. And while there is a nucleus of long-standing residents, over 40% of the rental stock in the tower blocks is either void or let as temporary placements by Homeless Services. If the properties were not used as temporary accommodation they would be very difficult to let. This has led to high levels of anti social behaviour along with a general feeling of apathy towards the long term promises of regeneration which until recently have yet to materialise.
In 1999, Tower Hamlets' Housing Directorate commissioned initial structural and stock condition appraisals, which found the blocks to be in sound structural condition although in need of full refurbishment. Later in the same year a feasibility study was commissioned from Levitt Bernstein Associates Ltd to look at the options available for the Crossways Estate.
The feasibility study arrived at a "preferred option" for the regeneration of the area that includes the refurbishment of all three towers and Holyhead Close (the low rise block), the development of up to 150 new homes at ground level and major site re-levelling.
During 2000/2001, the council continued a process of consultation with residents that led to the formation of a Residents Steering Group (RSG).
Recently, Swan Housing in conjunction with PRP Architects, and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, have put together a masterplan for stock transfer and subsequent regeneration of the estate. The plans are at present in the stages of an outline planning application and heading towards a ballot for stock transfer in 2004. The three tower blocks will be refurbished, providing an estimated 315 renovated and converted homes for affordable sale and rent. The low rise garage blocks and walkway structures will be demolished, as will be the 1-43 Holyhead Close properties.
It is envisaged that a total of 672 new and refurbished or converted homes will be created within a high quality and secure environmental setting with work starting on site during 2005 and a construction period of around 5 years.