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Silwood Estate

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The Silwood Estate was a council estate located on the borders of Rotherhithe in the London Borough of Southwark, and the Evelyn area of the London Borough of Lewisham, London. The estate is currently in the process of being regenerated in a partnership between the Southwark and Lewisham London Borough Councils and Higgins Homes. The majority of the estate was located within Lewisham's borders, although two blocks were located in Rotherhithe.

The estate was originally built in the early 1960s on a site of bomb-damaged terraced housing, with some land being used for temporary prefab structures. The estate was mainly low-rise houses and maisonette blocks, although in the Rotherhithe part of the site was a 6 storey block named Gillam House. On the Lewisham side of the estate, there were four 11 storey slab blocks, the majority of which were on the Oldfield Grove side. In addition, there were 32 terraced houses, a 3 storey flat block, some community facilities and a small number of 1 bedroom flats above a row of shops.

The overall design, conditions and location of the Silwood Estate were poor. It was 'sandwiched' between two railway lines and 'bad neighbour' development along railway arches. The original buildings on the Silwood Estate were predominantly precast concrete in nature and the majority of properties suffered from a number of problems that are generally inherent in this type of construction, including lack of security (both internally and externally), noise transmission between the dwellings, poor insulation levels, dampness and condensation. Windows were generally single glazed timber and difficult to maintain. There was poor estate lighting, lack of ownership of open areas and lack of identity within the larger blocks. This was demonstrated by the fact that in an independent survey carried out by PPCR Associates in March 1999 on the Silwood Estate, the majority of the residents stated that they would like to see the Silwood Estate totally demolished and rebuilt. Official statistics at the time of the SRB bid show that unemployment in the Scheme area was 23%, with 21% of Silwood Estate residents being unemployed and 70% in receipt of some form of benefit. A Silwood Estate survey at the time showed that 49% of Silwood Estate residents felt that security and personal safety were the top priority and 33% of residents wanted to move because of the unsuitability for children, anti-social residents and crime.

A masterplan for the regeneration of the estate was produced in 1999 and sent for local authority approval in 2000. The plans intended to demolish the estate and replace it with low-rise, more traditional style housing. Over time, the plans have been modified to improve vehicular and pedestrian access to the estate. Some properties have been refurbished. The final phase to be demolished was the Rotherhithe area which consisted of Gillam House and a 4 storey block, demolished in October 2011.

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