Aylesbury Estate

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Aylesbury Estate
Aylesbury Estate View.jpg
Aylesbury Estate viewed from Chiltern
General information
LocationWalworth, Southwark, London, England
Coordinates51°29′10″N 0°05′06″W / 51.486°N 0.085°W / 51.486; -0.085Coordinates: 51°29′10″N 0°05′06″W / 51.486°N 0.085°W / 51.486; -0.085
StatusOngoing Regeneration
Demolished2009 onwards
Other information
Southwark Council

The Aylesbury Estate is a large housing estate located in Walworth, South East London.

The Aylesbury Estate contains 2,704 dwellings, spread over a number of different blocks and buildings, and was built between 1963 and 1977. There are approximately 7,500 residents. The estate is currently undergoing a major regeneration programme.

Major problems with the physical buildings on the estate and the poor perception of estates in Britain as a whole have led to the Aylesbury Estate gaining the title of "one of the most notorious estates in the United Kingdom".[1] It has often been called the largest public housing estate in Europe, although this is difficult to verify with any accuracy.

In 1997, Tony Blair chose to make his first speech as Prime Minister here, in an effort to demonstrate that the government would care for the poorest within society.[2][3] The estate is often used as a typical example of urban decay.

The Aylesbury Estate is an ethnically diverse area: according to the most recent census, around 25% of respondents were White British, with Black ethnic groups accounting for over half of all respondents. Around a third (34%) of residents are of school age, and fewer than 1 in 10 are aged 65 or above. Nearly two-thirds of respondents identified themselves as being Christian, with 17% being Muslim.


The estate was designed by architect Hans Peter "Felix" Trenton and construction started in 1963.[4] Built on 285,000 square metres the estate was an attempt by planners to house some of London's poorest families. It was an effort of reconstruction as part of a comprehensive slum clearance policy by the Borough of Southwark.[5] The 2,700 dwellings were designed to house a population of roughly 10,000 residents, making it one of the largest public housing estates in Europe. The estate is named after Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire and the various sections of the estate are named after other local towns and villages in Buckinghamshire including Foxcote, Wendover, Winslow, Padbury, Taplow, Ravenstone, Latimer and Chiltern. The estate's design embraces ideas of modernist urban planning as expressed by Le Corbusier in his 1935 vision of the Ville Radieuse, such as standardisation, free circulation of pedestrians and traffic and generous access to sunlight and natural ventilation.[5]

In the 1970s residents in the ground floor flats successfully campaigned for gardens to be fenced-off adjoining their flats. The final blocks of flats were completed in 1977 and the estate included a nursery, a day centre and a health centre.

Taplow on Thurlow Street

However, as old tenants moved out and new tenants came in, the estate went through a period of decline in the 1980s. The area is now considered to be in the bottom category on the ACORN classification for inner city adversity, signifying an area of extremely high social disadvantage.[6]

The buildings have been described as "poorly designed" by Labour Councillor Johnson Situ, and with constant problems and heating breakdowns as they near the end of their life.[7]

In 1999 the estate was awarded New Deal for Communities status and given £56.2m of central government funding (over 10 years). It was expected that this money would bring in £400m of housing association funding into the estate as part of a stock transfer deal. A tenant ballot was held on transfer to a housing association which was rejected by 73% of the votes on a 73% tenant turnout.[8]


On 27 September 2005, the London Borough of Southwark decided that rather than spend £350 million updating the estate to basic living standards, it would order its demolition and replace the dwellings with modern houses controlled by a housing association. The plan involves increasing the density of housing from the current 2,700 units to 4,900. 2,288 units would remain social housing and the remainder would be for sale. The sale of these units is planned to fund the whole scheme.

The regeneration of the Aylesbury Estate has been divided into several phases which will see the estate being re-built in 20 years.[9] The indicative phasing plan states when tenants plan to be re-housed and when leasehold properties would be bought by Southwark Council however, this timetable is subject to a certain amount of flux, until the development partner is appointed and the more detailed scheduling of the work can begin, which will offer greater certainty to residents about when they will need to move.

The first Phase 1a was completed in August 2013, it lies near the south-west corner of the Aylesbury Estate and is divided into four development sites: A, C, B/E and D. This phase was developed with the L&Q housing association. It comprises 261 units, and a new resource centre for adults with disabilities. It is a mixture of affordable and private housing, with existing Aylesbury residents given priority to move into the new buildings.[10]


In January 2015, following the March for Homes, a block on the estate was occupied by a group of squatters and housing activists in a protest against the demolition of the estate and the gentrification of London. Despite facing resistance from the police and security guards the occupation continued, shifting from block to block as the protesters faced eviction notices. The occupation gained press attention for its tactics and for the counter measures taken by Southwark Council—who installed security guards, security dogs, and a spiked fence to deter protesters.[11][12][13]

In popular culture[edit]

External video
video icon "Aylesbury Estate – Ident". Remake of the 'infamous' Channel 4 ident shot on Aylesbury Estate, London SE17. (Flash Video.)

The estate has featured in many television shows including The Bill, Spooks, and from 2004–15 was featured in a Channel 4 ident, in which the camera "tracks down rubbish-strewn balconies [while] other balconies and floating concrete structures shift into place forming the shape of the Channel 4 logo."[14] The washing lines, shopping trolley, rubbish bags and satellite dishes were, however, "all artificial embellishments added in by film-makers" to assist in what Ben Campkin, former director of the UCL Urban Laboratory, called the estate's depiction as "a desolate concrete dystopia [which] provides visual confirmation of tabloid journalists' descriptions of a 'ghost town' estate." The ident was also the first and last of its respective series to be broadcast.[15][16]

In January 2014, Creation, a development trust for the estate, released a remake of the ident, produced and directed by Nick Street, and launched a campaign to persuade Channel 4 to use it instead of the original.[17] Charlotte Benstead, a director at Creation, said:

For years it was the first port of call for directors, producers and location scouts looking for grim backdrops to murder scenes, gun and drug storylines and gang-related crimes in soaps and gritty dramas. Due to pressure from local residents, Southwark council banned filming on the estate, but the ident continues to be aired regularly. All these representations have perpetuated the reputation of the estate... We felt we needed to record an alternative and more truthful version of the clip. We worked with film-maker Nick Street to make our own version that looks beyond the concrete exterior.[15]

In February 2014, Channel 4 told BBC London that it had "viewed the new film, liked it and has been in contact with the filmmaker about running it once. However the broadcaster said it would not be dropping the original ident."[18]



The estate is served by London Buses routes 42, 136 and 343. Routes 12, 35, 40, 45, 68, 148, 171, 176, 468 and P5 run nearby.

London Underground[edit]

The nearest station is Elephant & Castle on the Bakerloo and Northern lines.

Notable residents[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fletcher, Martin (20 October 2008). "Demolition of the Aylesbury Estate a new dawn for Hells waiting room". The Times. London. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Prime Minister, Aylesbury Estate, 2 June 1997". Cabinet Office. Archived from the original on 26 June 2007.
  3. ^ Beckett, Andy (13 July 2016). "The fall and rise of the council estate". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Glendinning, Miles; Muthesius, Stefan (1994). Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 282. ISBN 9780300054446.
  5. ^ a b Phipps, Simon (2016). Brutal London. September Publishing. p. 185. ISBN 9781910463635.
  6. ^ "ACORN – The Leading Geodemographic Classification Tool – New ACORN Classification Map". caci.co.uk. Archived from the original on 31 May 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  7. ^ Turner, George (12 September 2018). "Revealed: London council took on financial risk of estate development". The Guardian.
  8. ^ Matt Weaver (27 December 2001). "Resounding no vote for 'worst stock transfer'". The Guardian. London: guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  9. ^ Aylesbury Estate regeneration Archived 19 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Aylesbury Regeneration – Phase 1a starts in spring 2009". aylesburyregeneration.org.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2009. Retrieved 21 May 2009.
  11. ^ "Six arrested as police help in evictions from London estate". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Aylesbury Estate Occupied". rabble.org.uk. 1 February 2015. Archived from the original on 7 January 2017. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  13. ^ "Residents and supporters march against plans to demolish the Aylesbury estate". rs21.org.uk. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  14. ^ Thornley, Andy (23 January 2014). "South London Residents' Campaign Against Channel 4 Ident". Londonist. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  15. ^ a b Benstead, Charlotte (23 January 2014). "South London estate residents hit back over negative Channel 4 images". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  16. ^ Campkin, Ben (2013). Remaking London: Decline and Regeneration in Urban Culture. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 102. ISBN 9781780763088.
  17. ^ Blundy, Rachel (24 January 2014). "South London housing estate residents campaign to change Channel 4 ident". London Evening Standard. London. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  18. ^ "Channel 4 attacked over Aylesbury Estate advert". BBC London. 20 February 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  19. ^ "Tinie Tempah: He's going to be huge". The Independent. 19 February 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
  20. ^ "How London Nautical School is nurturing England's future footballers". The Football Association. 26 October 2018. Retrieved 6 January 2019.

External links[edit]