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Plans submitted for demolition and rebuild of Hoxton's New Era Estate - but no social housing

PUBLISHED: 16:00 13 September 2019 | UPDATED: 15:20 17 September 2019

The New Era Estate in Whitmore Road, Hoxton.

The New Era Estate in Whitmore Road, Hoxton.

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Plans have finally been submitted to flatten Hoxton's New Era Estate and rebuild it with more than 100 additional homes - though none of them will be for social rent.

Protesters demonstrate towards Downing Street against the house price rising in the New Era Estate in 2014.Protesters demonstrate towards Downing Street against the house price rising in the New Era Estate in 2014.

Charity landlord Dolphin Living wants to build 199 new homes on the site in a block ranging from three to 14 storeys high.

Dolphin stepped in to buy the estate after Russell Brand-led protests against the rent-hiking American owners in 2014.

In January last year CEO Olivia Harris told the Gazette the estate hadn't been "particularly well looked after", leaving no choice but to demolish it.

She also said the plan was to build as much "genuinely affordable" housing as possible - that is, social rent, shared ownership or London living rent, which is based on average incomes in the area.

The New Era Estate in Whitmore Road, Hoxton.The New Era Estate in Whitmore Road, Hoxton.

But the plans submitted in July, after months of discussions with council planners, include only 35 per cent affordable housing - below Hackney's 50pc policy.

Of those homes, 30pc will be living rent and 70pc will be 80pc of market rent - the old "affordable" definition coined by Boris Johnson when he was London mayor. Dolphin says the average rent across all of the affordable homes will be 62pc of market rent.

When asked about the lack of affordable homes, a Dolphin spokesperson told the Gazette: "As part of the submitted scheme, which has been designed to reflect its relationship with the wider neighbourhood, we have committed to providing as many affordable homes as possible."

There are currently 96 flats on the estate, and tenants are supportive of the plans on the whole. They currently pay unique "personalised rents" based on their means and have been told their rent on return will be no more than it would be with no demolition.

Dolphin wants to move them to its new flats in the Kingsland Fire Station development while it is built.

It said in its application that a financial viability assessment found even 35pc affordable housing was not viable for the charity, and that it would "welcome the opportunity to discuss opportunities (such as grant funding) to improve the viability of the scheme with both the council and/or Greater London Authority".

It goes on to say that as a charity with the objective of providing intermediate rent homes to working Londoners it "can accept a lower profit level than a commercial organisation".

The plans also include new shops at the bottom of the development fronting onto Whitmore Road.

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