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Tower Hamlets asks for funding for £200m Ocean Estate project

Tower Hamlets Council has asked the Homes and Communities Agency for funding to help get the £200 million revamp of London’s notorious Ocean Estate off the ground.

The project to rejuvenate the estate between Mile End Road and Ben Jonson Road in Stepney, east London, has been planned since 2001 when former Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged £56 million for it.

Originally there were plans to deliver more than 1,200 new homes, but this has now been scaled back to around 800.

Tower Hamlets Council lead member for housing and development Councillor Marc Francis said: “The changes to the financial and housing markets have had an inevitable impact upon the programme and its funding, and so we are seeking financial support from the Homes and Communities Agency.”

Construction News understands an East Thames/Wates/Bellway/First Base joint venture is the only contender for the project, after two other candidates, believed to be Lovell/Guinness Partnerships and an Inspace/Circle Anglia joint venture, decided against submitting bids last year.

The final consortium has already been through three stages of the tendering process.

A spokeswoman for the council said: “It is not a given that the consortium who we are talking to will win the contract, as they have to offer a deliverable and viable scheme that stands up to scrutiny. We’re working on the basis that preliminary physical work will begin during 2009/10.“

The job is divided into two lots. The first focuses on demolition followed by the construction of new homes for private sale, affordable homes and the refurbishment of existing housing stock.

The second part of the job involves the management and maintenance of the council-owned dwellings over a period of five years.

Earlier this year, former communities minister Baroness Andrews pledged £19.7 million for the scheme between now and 2011. The borough itself is contributing £14 million.

The estate is known in the area for its overcrowded living quarters and, though crime levels have fallen in recent years, the state of accommodation still falls below the Decent Homes Standard.

With the area coming under the spotlight as a host borough for the 2012 Olympics – the marathon will be passing near the estate itself - the council will be keen to get the job completed in time for the Games.

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