Grahame Park – reinventing a 1970s estate to meet the needs of today’s North London homeowners

Choices for Grahame Park, a subsidiary of the Genesis Housing Association, was formed in 2004 to undertake a radical £550m regeneration project and create a more balanced community in Colindale’s existing Grahame Park Estate, whilst improving the quality of life for its residents.

The largest self-funding project in Europe, the scheme will create a new neighbourhood of over 3,400 mixed tenure homes with a re-landscaped park and a variety of community and commercial facilities. This will be achieved by both providing new homes for existing residents, and building new properties for private sale, which will fund the development of affordable housing and community facilities.

The original Grahame Park was built in the 1970s on a disused airfield in North London. The estate was originally designed to form a sealed unit, within a ring of green space and satellite parking. The anti-social nature of this strategy soon became obvious as the estate began to experience increasing levels of both economic deprivation and crime.

A popular vision and high profile visitors

To resolve the situation and create a community to be proud of, Barnet London Council prescribed a number of aims for the regeneration project. These included the provision of social and community facilities that would ensure the scheme would support of the majority of local residents. As a result of this popular vision a 2003 poll showed that 79 per cent of residents were in favour of the regeneration project.

As well as the support of the local community, the development has attracted high profile visits with the Chancellor, George Osborne, touring of the site in April 2014 and Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, visited the site preceding the announcement of a successful bid for additional funding in December 2014.

Genesis is transforming the estate and reconnecting it to the surrounding area by creating routes around and through the new and existing neighbourhoods. Vibrant new urban and green public spaces will also make the area more inviting for the wider community and bring an end to the estate’s isolation. A new community centre will be located at the heart of the development, along with a library and supermarket. Additional retail and community facilities can be found at the central and northern part of the development.

A new campus is also being built for Barnet College, which will offer a wide range of vocational training opportunities.

The latest phase

The 18-year Grahame Park regeneration programme is taking place in phases with 1,314 units being demolished, 460 properties retained and 2,848 new homes constructed. The Genesis focus is to ensure that local residents are provided with every opportunity to buy their own home and has already completed 787 mixed-tenure homes for rent, sale and intermediate housing.

Vision is the latest phase of new homes at Grahame Park and combines a spectacular setting, stylish interiors with affordable prices. The new neighbourhood will provide a selection of 143 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, which will form the cornerstone of the vibrant new community. The affordable and private housing is completely integrated, with an invisible mix of tenures including social rent, shared ownership and private sale.

All homes are finished to an exacting standard with modern kitchens that feature granite worktops, stainless steel appliances and integrated white goods. All the white bathrooms have chrome fittings and are complemented by floor tiling and a heated towel rail.

Understanding social housing providers

Genesis understands the importance of the relationship between social housing providers and their residents. Within the long-term community development strategy the company continues to work closely with over 25 organisations from the local community. These include voluntary, housing and private sectors, as well as the Colindale Communities Trust, to provide a range of local social and economic regeneration schemes to support residents.

This also encourages the provision of a range of facilities, services and advice on subjects including employment, training and volunteering for older people, children and young people, and will manage the on-site community centre.

When complete the scheme will have regenerated an unpopular and unsafe 1970s estate and created a vibrant new community. The number of homes available will almost double and all apartments will also feature secure video entry systems and CCTV.

The New Hendon Village Residents Association, a resident led group formed to tackle security and social issues, was awarded Borough Watch status in 2014.

Genesis is also investing in social regeneration through a range of community development initiatives. Residents are being involved throughout the regeneration process through exhibitions, surgeries, forums and design consultations, as well as fun days and other celebratory events (such as a Black History Month celebration) to bring people together.

Speaking about the success of the development so far Anthony Harker, Genesis Head of Commercial:

“The homes at Grahame Park will serve to enhance what has been a successful regeneration of Colindale. We stay true to our principles at Genesis, which is why we offer the Help to Buy and shared ownership schemes, as we want to ensure that local residents are provided with every opportunity to buy.”

Supporting the Grahame Park regeneration project Genesis has, over the past two years:

  • Supported over 1000 residents to access accredited and non-accredited training including ESOL and Business
  • Administration
  • Supported over 200 residents into full time employment
  • Secured £2m of externally funded training provision
  • Made £1m savings to the public purse as a result of residents no longer being dependent on benefits
  • Supported 50 social and commercial enterprise start-ups

By David Mote, Editor