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Life at Branch Place, Colville Estate

  • View of homes along Colville Street
  • View of street-facing front gardens along Branch Place
  • Central courtyard garden
  • Community Planting Day at the Colville Estate, 2019
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Transcript of a resident interview at Branch Place, Colville Estate in 2019

Could you tell us about the home you were living in previously and the home that you are living in now?
I was living in Rosemary House on the Colville Estate initially for a couple of years and then because of the renewal plans, I was informed by the council that I would have to move to a different property. My family and I had a couple of options, we could either stay in Rosemary House until the new build property became available, or we could move away from the estate, or we could do an inter-estate move. We weighed it up and decided to move off the estate nearby to Rodes House into a 2-bedroom council flat. We had the option of staying at Rodes House or moving into the new buildings here on the estate, and even though I did like my neighbours, when I viewed this property at Clift House, I really liked. I looked at the options of taking the property I live in now or staying at Rodes House and decided to move to Clift House after all. I don’t have any regrets about that.

Did you enjoy being part of the design process along with other members of the community?
I did yes, because lots of residents who attended those meetings also were people I had known when I lived at Rosemary House on the old estate, so being there with everyone and able to see what was happening made me quite empowered. By attending those meetings, I saw the plans for the initial stages of the project and the different phases. I had a chance to meet with the architects and the project and regeneration officers and I felt comfortable asking questions about what was proposed to happen to the estate, and sharing any doubts I had about moving from my home. I had worked previously at Hackney Council, so the meetings allowed me to see both sides of a process, both as an employee and a resident. I felt quite fortunate and empowered to have those different perspectives.

Do you think the process of including residents in the design has brought the community together more?
Yes I think it has, as people who I had lived near to in Rosemary House attended the meetings too. When we had seen each other previously in the hallway or street, we had said hello to each other, but that is as far as the conversation went. But at the meetings, we had the opportunity to talk more about what was happening and speak about what we thought of the plans for the estate, and ask each other where we were going to live next and what our plans were. When I had moved into Clift House, there were also some community fun days to meet other residents and people living in the neighbourhood. This was good because when I see these neighbours now I can more easily stop for a chat as I have met them before.

What do you like most about living in your new home at Clift House?
I’ve always wanted to live in a new build property, so it has been great moving here. As far as the flat, I really like the design, it is very spacious and the windows are very high, which brings in a lot of natural light. The rooms are also much bigger than my previous home on the estate. The kitchen was very small in my previously home, so I feel this is definitely an upgrade. I also like the design of the bathroom, it looks very modern, whereas before, the previous properties I was living in, the bathroom seemed quite outdated. I also have a balcony now where I can sit out with my family when the weather is good. 

What do you think of the public spaces on the estate such as the courtyard garden?
I see people using them and they have allowed people to come together more. They are a great way to get to know your neighbours on a more personal level which is different to when you see people in the hallway. A lot of residents moved in at the same time so it has been good for that.

Do you think the new Colville Estate has made a positive contribution to the local community, and local people, and how do you think it has done this?
I think it has, there are a lot of changes happening in the area, but I think generally the whole area is looking better than it did previously, and I think that the Colville Estate has uplifted how the area looks and feels. I hope that the way it is designed, it will reduce crime overtime and bring the community together more. I have noticed that there are different people who are coming to the Colville Estate as well now which is bringing a new community feeling to the area in a good way, and there are a lot of other changes in the area, such as the Britannia Leisure Centre which I take my daughter to.

How important is it to be part of a community? Do you feel that this feeling of  community has changed at all?
I think it’s good because the demographics here are young families as well, as well as young professionals. Because my daughter goes to Shoreditch Primary School, she’s made lots of friends there, so it brings us together. We’re not just congregating on the estate now, everyone attends different activities, and we do things together, so we are all getting to know each other. This doesn’t just bring us together within the Colville Estate, it brings us together outside of the Colville Estate as well.

What does it mean to you and your family to be living in a flat like this?
I think it has brought us together more as a family. I think it’s also good for my daughter because her room in our last home was very small. Her room here is much bigger now and I can definitely see her growing up in that room as a teenager where she wont be limited by its size. I think this will be good for her wellbeing. If she were to have siblings in the future, there is enough space to have a bunk bed and have another bed in there as well, so it gives us more opportunity and flexibility. The size of the kitchen is also good, as it allows us to sit together and chat as a family, whereas in the old flat, we could only sit in the living room, so we can now be in different parts of the flat all together.

Can you see yourself living here for a long time here?
I can do yes. It’s not just the Colville Estate that is changing, our local area and other parts of Hackney are changing too. When I’m much older, it will be great that I can say, I’ve been here a long time and I’ve seen the changes happen, I’ve felt empowered and had a voice and been a part of that change. And I hope that the same will be for my daughter when she is older. I hope she will feel that also, because she grew up on the estate.

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