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Supporting communities, preventing social exclusion and tackling need

Supporting communities, preventing social exclusion and tackling need: a report to Hammersmith United Charities on four low income estates in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham by LSE Housing

Laura Lane and Anne Power, LSE Housing

June 2009

4. Conditions and facilities on the four Hammersmith and Fulham estates

The next section describes conditions on the four estates we have studied. The estates represent the three main types of council housing found in this country:

  • Low-rise houses, built after World War I, known as inter-war cottage estates;
  • Blocks of brick-built flats, known as inter-war balcony block estates or walk-up block estates;
  • Medium and high-rise concrete blocks built post World War II forming “modernist concrete complex” estates.

Edward Woods

Edward Woods estate was built between 1966 and 1971, with a new addition of 122 units built by Notting Hill Housing Group and Countryside Properties in 2003.

The estate is large with 3 high rise blocks (22 storeys each) and 4 lower rise blocks of 5 storey flats and maisonettes. The estate contains 754 units in these blocks – 226 in the low rise blocks and 538 in the high rise blocks. 626 of the flats are rented and 128 have been sold under the Right to Buy. Some flats within the tower blocks have been converted into sheltered accommodation and are linked to two resident wardens via alarm / intercom systems.

The majority of the stock is managed by the ALMO – Hammersmith and Fulham Homes – with 59 of the new units being managed by Notting Hill. The additional units built more recently were set aside for outright sale.

“Homes for sale and rent were integrated across this development, fostering good community relations. Sales profits were spent on estate improvements, including a substantial new park designed by residents. Because residents were so involved in the planning and design, Edward Woods estate is very popular with the people who live there.”

(Notting Hill Housing Group website

It has recently been announced that a new £12.2 million investment scheme is planned by the ALMO that will see all the tower blocks given coloured cladding to brighten up the estate and to improve insulation. Residents have been involved in the scheme from the start and Hammersmith and Fulham Homes claim the development demonstrates their commitment to improving neighbourhoods as well as delivering decent homes.

Edward Woods has improved a lot in the past decade and has changed from being a no-go area to a flagship estate regeneration scheme. When walking around the estate we found it to be a pleasant place to be with people around at different times of the day.

There is a community centre that has a range of activities for all ages including Active Tots, Soccer Tots, Junior Dance Club (5-7 year olds), Senior Dance Club (8-13 year old), Capoeiera for adults and table tennis for the over 50s.

Building style


High rise and medium rise blocks


Medium rise blocks with garages below


Recently built new Notting Hill homes – medium rise.

Facilities and amenities


Green area and playground within the estate


Green area and playground within the estate


Edward Woods Community Centre


Futsal project delivered by Active Planet, funded by Notting Hill Housing, on the Edward Woods Estate 2009

White City

White City estate was built between 1939 and 1953 by London County Council who had acquired a site of about 50 acres for housing on the White City Exhibition grounds. The estate comprises a total of 2,027 homes in 35 blocks – mainly 5 storey walk-up blocks. It is the largest estate in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. Notting Hill Housing Group also have some involvement on the estate. The image below dates from 1937.


“All dwellings will be 5 storeys high and the total accommodation will be 2,286 dwellings containing 7,290 rooms. The desirability of a reasonable provision in respect of social services has been recognised and sites have been reserved for 14 shops, an administrative building and possible schools, medical clinic, reading rooms, etc., and children’s playgrounds.” (London County Council, 1937, p113).

White City was transferred to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in 1981. White City estate appears to be well provided for in terms of community facilities and amenities with a number of community centres, nursery and childcare provision, a health centre, a housing management office for the ALMO and facilities for young people including an adventure playground. The estate is very large and appeared to be well maintained with evidence of repairs and maintenance work underway as well as new building. White City has some attractive buildings. The estate was generally quite quiet during our visits with few people around.

Building style


Balcony blocks


Balcony blocks


Balcony blocks with inner courtyard area

Facilities and amenities


Adventure playground and green space in centre of White City estate

Fatima Community Centre


White City Community Centre


White City Youth Project


White City local shops

William Church

William Church estate was built between 1964 and 1970 with both medium-rise and high-rise blocks and contains a total of 116 homes in 2 ten-storey blocks and 2 five-storey maisonette blocks. There was ongoing refurbishment and re-development work in the estate at the time of our visits.

Some properties within the estate are managed by Hammersmith and Fulham Homes alongside Shepherds Bush Housing Association and Acton Housing Association. The estate also has a mix of leaseholders and social tenants with 38 leaseholders within the 116 homes.

There are some community facilities within the estate including a meeting room with a kitchen in the basement of one of the tower blocks and some green space with a children’s playground in the centre of the estate. However the open space and playground provision is minimal and appeared underused.

During our visits there were very few people around despite the estate being fully occupied and our visits occurring at a number of different times and on different days of the week, including the weekend. Having spoken to front line housing workers in this area we learnt that many residents there now keep “themselves to themselves” and that there are some problems in the estate due to its proximity to a number of homeless hostels and a day centre. The estate appears to be used as a place for street drinkers during the day. There are also historic concerns in the local area around drug dealing and other street activity. Whilst there is a tenants and residents association on the estate, it is no longer as active as it once was.

The estate does feel somewhat isolated and cut off from the surrounding area and it tends to be used by people other than residents as a short-cut to the main road and facilities of Goldhawk Road. It certainly did not feel as vibrant as most of the other estates.

Building style


Medium rise blocks with gated entrance to estate


High rise block with newer low-storey RSL accommodation

Facilities and amenities


Green space and playground within estate


Local pub just outside estate – also offering cheap accommodation for contract workers

Old Oak

The estate is a cottage style estate of around 900 homes that was built in both the pre-war and inter-war period, from 1912 to 1923 by the London County Council. The extract below from a contemporary housing book offers fascinating insights.

“The purchase of Old Oak estate from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners was completed in 1905. The site then comprised about 54 acres, but the subsequent sale to the Great Western Railway Company of nearly eight acres reduced the area to 46 acres. The estate is bounded on the north by Wormwood Scrubs, an open space of 215 acres.

The section (14 acres in extent) to the west of the railway was developed in 1912-13 by the erection of 319 houses and flats and 5 shops.

The eastern section of the estate, on which roads and sewers were formed prior to the War, is about 32 acres in extent, and has been developed by the erection of 736 houses and two shops. Building work was commenced in 1920 and 722 houses and two shops were completed by 1922. The remaining 14 houses were built in 1927. The total accommodation on the estate is 1,056 lettings, comprising 228 five-room, 443 four-room, 341 three-room, 27 two-room, 16 one-room houses or flats, and superintendent’s quarters.” (London County Council, 1937, p135).

Old Oak Housing Association is a local housing company (a branch of Family Mosaic Homes), set up in 1999 to regenerate and manage 670 homes and a community centre, which were transferred from the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham. A programme of regeneration and community development activities was tied into the transfer and between 1999 and 2004 £23million was invested in the estate (Hammersmith and Fulham Homes, 2009). Refurbishment of the homes has now been completed, and the organisation is focussing on community development and regeneration projects.

The estate is mixed tenure with a large proportion of owner-occupiers as a result of the right to buy legislation. In addition to Old Oak Housing Association a number of other registered social landlords (RSLs) are also active on the estate. Ducane Housing Association has rooms for rent to postgraduate students and key workers spread across 7 street properties on the estate.

There are some community facilities on the estate including a Community Centre (although it was closed for refurbishment throughout the period of this study), a primary school, open space in Wormwood Scrubs and good transport connections with an underground station on the estate and close proximity to many bus routes. The estate is located within a Conservation Area.

During our visits the estate felt well maintained and there were people around though they were mainly in the immediate area around houses, apparently on their way in or out of their homes.

Building style


Cottage style estate housing -1930s


Cottage style estate housing – the same homes in 2009


Cottage style estate housing


Cottage style estate housing


Cottage style estate housing

Facilities and amenities


Old Oak Primary School


Zone 2 Underground station – linking Old Oak estate / East Acton with central London


Wormwood Scrubs – green open space but few facilities for children and young people


Old Oak Community and Children’s Centre – currently undergoing refurbishment

The following table summarises information we gathered about the estates including size, age, style, conditions and existing facilities.

Table 24: Summary table of estate conditions and facilities

Estate Conditions Facilities
Edward Woods
876 units – flats and maisonettes
  • Post-war high rise and low rise blocks
  • New Notting Hill / Countryside development
  • Attractive architecture in new developments
  • Well maintained
  • Edward Woods Community Centre
  • Local shops
  • Playground
  • Park and green space
  • Basketball courts
  • Evergreen Club
  • Good transport links nearby
White City
2,027 units – flats
  • Inter-war blocks
  • Dense
  • Well maintained
  • Many people around – felt safe
  • Attractive estate
  • Randolph Beresford Early Years Centre
  • Canberra Primary School
  • Nubian Resource Centre
  • Fatima Community Centre
  • Local shops
  • Pub and restaurant
  • Adventure playground
  • Church
  • Hammersmith and Fulham Homes North Hammersmith office
  • Health centre
  • Somali Women’s Resource Centre
William Church
116 units – flats and maisonettes
  • Very few people around on the estate
  • People from outside the estate using it as a place to gather and drink
  • Well maintained
  • Redevelopment work ongoing
  • Community meeting room
  • Playground
  • Green space
  • Close to local shops and amenities
Old Oak
1912 – 1923
900 units – houses
  • Cottage estate
  • Attractive housing
  • Conservation Area
  • Lots of people around
  • Old Oak Primary School
  • Old Oak Community Centre (currently closed for refurbishment but most activities relocated)
  • Old Oak Housing Association
  • Wormwood Scrubs – open space
  • Underground station (Zone 2) and many bus routes
  • Local shops

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