This report covers developments in 20 less popular and more problematic English council estates, based on four waves of research since 1980. It presents unique evidence of the impact of 25 years of social change and policy from Thatcher to Blair, a period in which the number of British council homes has halved, and social inequality and the standard of public services have become key political issues. The last wave of research found in 1995 that despite progress on management and physical conditions, the estates were swimming against a tide of social polarisation. A decade later - in sharp contrast - there are signs that national and local policy as well as wider social and economic changes are helping many of the estates to turn the tide - although there are questions about how sustainable this progress can be.
Using data brought together from the four waves of research, and with extensive quotations, figures and tables, the report covers changes of estate ownership and management, dramatic redevelopments, the quality of services and neighbourhoods; who lives in the estates, and their views and attitudes; the impact of policy and prospects for the future. It is key reading for people working in housing and regeneration - in policy and strategy, at the frontline, and as students - and for those seeking a summary of past progress and current challenges in these areas.
Rebecca Tunstall worked on the two most recent waves of research and is a lecturer in housing in the Department of Social Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Alice Coulter was until recently a research officer at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
I Introduction: Twenty-five years on 20 estates: a unique study; Development and decline: the 20 estates from origins to 1980; 'Swimming against the tide': key changes in the estates 1980-95; The key questions for 1995-2005; Research methods. II Changes in the estates, 1995-2005: Staff and resident assessments of progress; Estate popularity; Estate ownership; Social housing management; Regeneration and investment; Crime and anti-social behaviour; Residents' groups; Facilities and activities; Estate-linked schools; Residents' satisfaction with their areas; Estate populations. III Assessing progress: Improvements 1980-95 and further gains 1995-2005; Closing the gaps on local and national averages; Explaining the changes; Have the estates 'turned the tide'?; Cautions for interpretation and policy implementation.