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One year reprieve for Robin Hood Gardens

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The controversial redevelopment of the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate has been delayed by at least a year, a source at Tower Hamlets Council has confirmed

Plans to demolish the estate in Poplar, East London, designed by Alison and Peter Smithson in the brutalist style and completed in 1972, provoked a storm of protest from celebrated architects such as Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid.

English Heritage last year rejected an original application to have the estate listed but that decision is now being reviewed by the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). Consultation on whether to list the scheme was due to end on 5 February.

A source at the council said that the project was effectively on hold because of the listing review and had therefore gone back in programme by ‘at least a year’.

‘We are wary of wasting a lot of money and then seeing the building listed,’ he said. ‘Until we have a clear idea about what is happening it is too early to procure a housing association or a developer. And in terms of the detailed design, we have to wait.’

He acknowledged that the current economic downturn would also create difficulties in developing the site. ‘Obviously, projects everywhere are affected.’

A spokesman for the DCMS said that a decision on whether to list the building would happen ‘probably quite quickly’ following the close of the consultation.

A spokesman for the Twentieth Century Society said the delay would buy them time to save the building even if the listing decision goes against them: ‘I hope we have done enough to save the building regardless of the listing.’

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