Ledbury estate – London Borough of Southwark

I have great pleasure in writing this reference for Open Communities.   For the last three years I have worked with Open Communities on Peckham’s Ledbury estate in the most difficult of circumstances, due to the emergency situation that arose in 2017 as a result of the LPS issue. 

Open communities have provided the full range of support for our residents, including 

  • Administering the Ledbury Project Group 
  • Chairing Public meetings 
  • Advising on consultation material 
  • Support for the tenant’s organisation 
  • Drop-in sessions for tenants 
  • Home visits for tenants 
  • Tenant training 

In addition to the traditional ITA role, Open Communities have also carried out three independent tenant ballots for the project and their professional independent reports on the ballots have been very well received by tenants.    Their staff are well briefed on the issues at Ledbury, so that anyone who has deputised for the main contact we have at Ledbury, has stepped into their shoes seamlessly.   I am happy to unreservedly recommend them for ITA roles and if there are any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Landlord’s reference  – Mike Tyrrell, Director of Ledbury Estate – Southwark Council

I have been a member of the Ledbury Estate Resident Project Group (RPG) for the last 3 years or so and during that time have enjoyed the help and support of Open Communities, including Ray, Neal and Lockhart 

This has mainly taken the form of the chairing of monthly meetings with Southwark council officials and, from time to time, councillors. Thanks to Open Communities’ expert and patient supervision we have all been able to express concerns and ask questions at these meetings.  Open Communities regularly interjected and sought clarification on our behalf. These meetings had resulted in a very satisfactory outcome for the council and residents culminating in a successful submission to cabinet which reflected the hopes and views of the majority of concerned residents and former residents with a right to return as expressed in a series of well organised ballots.  This process is still ongoing due to revised engineering reports but we are happy to continue to receive the support of Open Communities until the regeneration work is complete. 

In addition, Open communities were always available to advise us individually and at resident meetings on the issues we faced, particularly in the early stages when there was a lot of uncertainty. They also sourced reports and documents which helped us to understand the issues involved, summarising and explaining when necessary.  

I am happy to recommend Open Communities as a support organisation for residents who find themselves in a similar situation to ourselves here on the Ledbury estate.

Resident reference  – Thomas Ennis, Ledbury Estate Residents Project Group

Barkantine estate – One Housing Group – London Borough of Tower Hamlet

The One Housing regeneration team have been working with Ray Coyle from Open Communities for 18 months now, on an option appraisal that is underway on the Isle of Dogs, E14.  

Ray and Open Communities were selected by a panel of residents to be their independent advisor as part of a competitive tender process.  Ray was able to form a positive rapport very quickly with the residents and has consistently demonstrated that he is knowledgeable and reliable source of advice and information for both residents and One Housing. He was able to build trust with our resident steering group and the wider community. His calm but authoritative manner, along with this trusting relationship, has enabled him to be a very effective mediator in any discussions between One Housing and the resident’s.  

Ray is always available to the staff at One Housing to discuss any concerns or problems, and his advice on how best to broach potentially difficult or contentious issues has certainly helped us to maintain a positive working relationship with our residents.    I would happily work with Ray again on any future regeneration projects.

Landlord reference – Barkantine estate, One Housing Group

This project has similarities to Friars Close and Burrell Street, where there was a relatively small number of properties at the outset, but a selected option which increased the number of homes at the end of the process by 400 %.  Tenants weighed up the need for new affordable housing, as well as dealing with overcrowding on the estate, with what they saw as a potential threat to the community spirit which has been built up over years.  This provided the biggest dilemma for tenants and the issue was covered in sessions between the ITA and the Steering Group to evaluate and look at the pros and cons of the chosen option.    In addition to this, two of the existing blocks did not have lifts and it was becoming increasingly difficult for some tenants to access their flats.   

At the outset of this regen process there was a lack of trust in the landlord from the community.  This was down to a history of less than perfect communication on a previous, poorly planned regeneration programme which didn’t get off the ground.     Our first task, as in all our ITA projects was to gain the trust of the tenants.   The second, and just as important, was to rebuild trust between landlord and tenants.   This was hampered due to what the community saw as poor housing management services, especially on repairs and maintenance of the blocks.  These issues threatened to take over the regeneration agenda and was causing a block on progress. 

Open Communities suggested a solution to address the issues with repairs and, consequently, begin to rebuild trust between the community and landlord. 

Marie Batchelor – Chair, Residents Steering Group