Broadwater Farm (1967- )

Broadwater Farm (1967- )

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Number of Units 1063
No. of Residents 3800
District N17
Borough Haringey

Broadwater Farm Timeline

1967 Broadwater Farm Starts Construction

1970 All-white Tenants and Residents Association formed

1973 Broadwater Farm fully occupied
Social problems with deck level are voiced

1976 Serious design faults identified
Department of Environmnet concludes Broadwater Farm should be demolished

1981 Predominantely black Youth Association formed
Ethinic mix 50:50 black and white
Process of regeneration begins

1985 Princess Diana visits Broadwater Farm to commend the regeneration efforts
Extremely high levels of crime rate on Broadwater Farm (see table)
Unemployment rate at 42%
Notorious 'Broadwater Farm Riots': PC Keith Blakelock murdered on the estate

1987 Broadwater Farm Residents' Association formed

1992 Broadwater Farm Community Centre opens
Broadwater Enterprise Centre opens

1993 £33M regeneration funds for Broadwater Farm's 8-year reformation project

1996 Mr Motivator visits Broadwater Farm to open community health centre
Construction of 21 enterprise centres begins

1998 Bill Clinton's Community Development Officer visits Broadwater Farm as an example of a positive project

2002 Estate Action Plan ends
Mark Lambie jailed for kidnap and torture

2003 12 new houses built on Broadwater Farm
Waiting list for housing on Broadwater Farm

2005 Low crime rate (see table)
70% of residents are from ethnic minorities
39 different languages spoken across the estate

2007 Children's Centre & Nursery shortlisted for RIBA award


Ealy Development and Policy

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Broadwater Farm House 1892 (flooding can be seen in the foreground).

See: Affordable Housing
See: World War II (1939-1945)
See: The Dudley Committe (1942)
See: The Town & Country Planning Act (1947)
See: The Housing Manual (1949)
See: The Housing Act (1949)
See: The Parker Morris Standards

The relatively rural area of Broadwater Farm was not developed until the 'high-rise boom' of the 1960's (by 1965 25% of Council new build in the UK was in blocks over 9 stories). In 1967 construction of the 12 blocks began, each block is named after a WWII RAF fighter base from the Battle of Britain: Debden; Hornchurch; Northolt; Kenley etc.

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Panorama of Broadwater Farm estate

By 1968 the high-rise boom was over, see: Ronan Point Gas Explosion, and the estate was still under construction. Similar to Ronan Point, Broadwater Farm is constructed using the Nielsen Larsen large precast concrete panel system, this system is designed only for buildings up to 6 stories and rather than a structural frame the system relies on panels held together with friction.12 The architecture is typical of the many Modernist high density buildings of the time, however both the expanses of open land and the high-rise nature of the block are justified as the Broadwater Farm site is situated on the edge of the River Moselle corridor3. As it is within a floodplain the ground floor level is car-parking (1.4 spaces per unit4) with the buildings raised upon piloti. The ground level was replicated at first floor with a 'deck level' that housed shops and amenities such as a GP surgery. The 'deck level' was intended to replicate a typical street and connected all of the blocks at first floor level. The density of the estate is 336 habitable rooms per hectare.

Broadwater Farm Riot

  • Riots sparked by death of a resident during a police search
  • Widespread arson and rioting
  • Several people including police officers and journalists shot at
  • PC Keith Blackelock murdered by a mob in one of tower blocks
Broadwater Farm Riot 5th October 1985
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Murdered Police Officer Keith Blackelock PC Blakelock's blood stained overalls with stab marks highlighted Broadwater Farm riot police engaging rioters

Broadwater Farm Regeneration

Even before the riots of 1985, regeneration of Broadwater Farm was in motion. The riots acted to highlight the acute problems of the estate; tensions and distrust between the police and black youth; slow progress solving the building defects; and socio-economic issues.

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Snce 1985 there has been a tendancy to blame the architecture for the problemsof Broadwater Farm:

"…as council planners know, it is not density that is the problem, but flawed architecture which encourages crime. Much of [the] £33M [regeneration fund] has been spent on designing that out, bringing people back down to the ground level so they can act as unwitting crime stoppers."5

The policing and resultant race riots are also singled out for blame:

"So whilst history suggests it was the housing conditions that led to the riot in which PC Blakelock died, it was, in fact, the result of a break down in the relationship between the police and local black people"6

But in 1985 Broadwater Farm was a melting pot of complicated, inter-twined social, political, economic, architectural and cultural problems that can't be isolated or removed from their context or the actions that have resulted.

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Broadwater Farm Children's Centre

Crime Figure Comparison

1985 2005
Burgalries 875 1
Assaults 50 0
Robberies 50 0

The dramatic effect of regeneration and socio-political change; in the 3rd quarter of 1985 there were 875 burgalries, in the 1st quarter of 2005 there was one, from which the suspect was arrested and all items recovered. The Metropolitain Police's 'Broadwater Farm Unit' has been so successful in reducing crime that it has been disbanded as the crime rate on the estate is now so low the unit is not warrented.

[Data from accessed10.12.08]

Serious crime is still just as much of a problem in the area as anywhere else in the country; in 2005 there was a drive-by shooting at the estate's community centre in which a 17 year-old male was wounded. MP David Lammy witnessed the shooting and gave first aid to the victim.

Broadwater Farm Ethnicity

1985 2005
49% white 30% white
42% West Indian 24% Afro-Caribbean
3% Indian sub-continent 12% Turkish Kurds
total = 104%? 7% Somali/Congolese

[Data from accessed10.12.08]

Community feel…"The Farm"…

See also

Council Housing!
Utopia on Trial!
Right to Buy!
The Housing Act (1949)!
The High Rise Boom!

External links

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