HC Deb 19 April 2004 vol 420 cc362-3W
Ms Oona King

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of the Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust in the regeneration of North Bow. [166130]

Keith Hill

The Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust (HAT) has completed its work on budget (including £123 million of Government assistance) and one year ahead of its original completion target of March 2005. It has exceeded its original objectives for the building of new homes or the improvement of existing ones to the highest standards; ensuring effective, sensitive and responsive maintenance and management of homes; promoting diversity of tenure within the HAT's estates; and improving the economic, social and environmental conditions of the area, including improved jobs opportunities, youth and community facilities.

Nearly 1,000 new homes have been built. Only one tower block, and one sheltered housing scheme, are to remain—both of which will have been extensively refurbished by the end of the HAT programme.

The high level of resident involvement has remained core to the HAT's ethos throughout its life. This included tenant involvement in the actual design of homes. The recent Quality of Life Survey showed that 60 per cent. of residents feel that levels of crime have gone down and community spirit and neighbourliness have risen.

The HAT has also delivered, in partnership with the Bow People's Trust (BPT) and Old Ford Housing Association—and many other local agencies—a range of community and economic development initiatives to tackle the problems of social exclusion in the area. These initiatives include the Tower Hamlets Credit Union in Roman Road; the regeneration of the Roman Road Market; Growing Concerns—a community gardening project; a Construction Training Initiative for ethnic communities; a range of services for the elderly and support to local schools. A large area of open space is also being provided in the HAT area and a new Youth center will soon be built.

The HAT has encouraged its successor organisations to continue its vision and ensure that the gains made locally in neighbourhood renewal are sustainable and beneficial to the whole community for the long term. To this end, the HAT has awarded an endowment of some £3 million which will be used exclusively in the local area through the "Action for Bow" Trust Fund.