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Robin Hood Gardens revamp ‘not impacted’ by developer inquiry

Swan Housing has insisted its controversial redevelopment of Robin Hood Gardens in Poplar, east London will not be affected by a probe into allegations of premature drawing of government fund

The company is lead developer on the £500 million residential project, which was designed by Horden Cherry Lee and Aedas, and backed by Countryside Properties. But the Homes and Communities Agency, which is also backing the scheme, has launched an investigation into allegations relating to Swan staff.

The HCA refused to comment on the east London project, which will see the demolition of a 1970s Alison and Peter Smithson-designed housing estate.

A spokesman for the body said: ‘We have been working with Swan to investigate this issue and, until we have completed that work, we cannot comment further.’

But a Swan spokesman told AJ: ‘We understand the Robin Hood scheme will not be impacted. This scheme specifically will continue as it was.’

Swan Housing Group said in a statement last month: ‘Since January 2012, Swan Housing Group, in co-operation with the Social Housing Regulator, has been carrying out an investigation into allegations around the practice of a small number of Swan Housing Group staff prematurely drawing down grant from the Homes and Communities Agency.  There is no evidence whatsoever that this practice has been for personal gain of anyone within Swan or that public funds have been misused.’

The firm said an interim report by solicitors Devonshires contained preliminary findings and allegations that a small number of Swan Housing Group staff had ‘deliberately subverted the operating system for premature grant draw-down’. It added that on 3 July 2012, following the interim report, three members of staff were suspended pending a full internal investigation.

A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets council said: ‘The Blackwall Reach Regeneration project is very important to Tower Hamlets Council, as it will provide much-needed new homes for our residents. We are managing the project closely and working with all partner organisations involved to ensure its effective delivery.’

Meanwhile, Tower Hamlets Council has approved the use of compulsory purchase orders for 26 property owners on the Robin Hood Gardens estate.

It said in a statement: ‘The council is making ongoing efforts to meet and progress negotiations with all housing and commercial owners, and this process will continue alongside the CPO once this is made.’ 

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