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£1.5bn Aylesbury development starts

Work was getting under way today to demolish one of Britain’s most well-known council estates.

The Aylesbury estate in Southwark, south-east London, where Tony Blair made his first speech as prime minister, is undergoing a £1.5bn regeneration.

Demolition teams are starting to take down the main area of the estate today, and work has already started on the new homes that will take its place.

Blair visited the estate hours after his 1997 election, describing its 7,500 residents as “forgotten people” and promising to tackle social exclusion.

A Southwark Council spokeswoman said: “There are mixed affections for the site.

“Many people who have lived on the Aylesbury estate for years are sad to see the homes they grew up in being demolished, while others are glad to see modern new homes spring up, ready for them to move in.”

The estate was built between 1967 and 1977 as a bid to link estates between Peckham and Elephant and Castle.

Fiona Colley, cabinet member for regeneration at Southwark Council, said: “This is a really important moment in the history of this area, but even more importantly, it’s a momentous time for the people who live here.

“The new homes appearing on this site will be better for those who move in, and what looks like a building site today will become a brand new landscape for this part of London.

“This development marks a milestone for social housing of national significance, both in its physical size and in the extent of the change.”

The whole estate of 2,700 homes is being redeveloped. The buildings are being taken down as they were constructed, rather than with a wrecking ball, to minimise disruption.

Three sites on the estate are being developed, with about 4,000 new homes, 50% of which will be social housing.

The new development will feature homes to rent and buy, and is designed to minimise the number of potential crime hotspots.

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