Demolition begins on run-down estate

RESIDENTS of one of Islington s most run-down estates watched as demolition began on 53 homes last week.

RESIDENTS of one of Islington's most run-down estates watched as demolition began on 53 homes last week.

A crowd gathered to see the dust fly as the first bricks of Kerry House block were crushed last Wednesday as part of a £40million project to demolish and rebuild the Market Estate, which will see all residents get a new home by 2010.

The crowd cheered at "the end of an era" as demolition crews tore away concrete and debris from the top of the block.

Margaret Veal, 66, who has lived on the estate for 35 years, said: "The majority of people are very happy with their new properties. For me, it's nice to be able to get a good idea of what the end product will be like. The block has been there for 40 years but with every block that comes down we are closer to the new estate."

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Market Estate resident Sharon Jobe has been involved with the project from the start as the chairwoman of the Market Estate Tenants' and Residents' Association.

She said: "With this block coming down, you can start to see the end in sight. We are all getting something brand new from something that was 40 years old.

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"Let's hope that the new estate will mark the end of the water problems we had with the old estate being built on a reservoir."

She added: "As the estate changes the anti-social behaviour has quietened down. The new layout of the estate makes it so securities a lot tighter as well so people should feel much safer.

"It has been a long eight years and there will still be more for us to do but nothing as big as this."

Stephen Ross, project director for Southern Housing, the housing association behind the demolition and rebuild project, said: "There are community members who have been part of this for six or seven years so for them these are very important times. It has been a long journey and there have been times when people wondered if old blocks would ever come down."

Retired cabbie Raymond Maxey, 80, who has lived on the Market Estate for 37 years, said: "It is the end of an era but it's also the beginning of a new one. I've been here for many happy years but can only see it getting better."

Councillor Paul Smith, deputy leader of the Labour group, said: "We want to see much more social housing like this in Islington but first the council must get off its backside and get the ball rolling. A lot of people come to us every day because they see what is being done with the Market Estate and they want the same."

Last week, Caroline Flint MP, the minister responsible for tackling inner-city poverty, and Emily Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, visited the "ambitious scheme".

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