During this period WECH intensified its contact with residents by visiting them in their homes. Meetings were organised to explain what was going on and listen to residents' concerns. High profile media coverage kept the estates in public view. In September 1991 WECH published a manifesto for residents. Residents could finally vote on whether to transfer to WECH or stay with the Council. Some 82 % of the residents voted, of which 72% were in favour of the transfer to WECH. The properties were finally transferred in April 1992.

The Council exercised its right to pay the dowry in five annual installments, adding interest of about £4.5 million to the total. Now the work began in earnest.

The Rehabilitation of the Estate

Architect Hilary Chambers is a senior partner in Chambers Goodwin and Partners. He began his career in the 1960s by working in housing for several London Councils. In 1984 he was engaged by the GLC on the Walterton Estate and had produced the report recommending full scale rehabilitation as mention­ed earlier. The Action Group approached him for help in 1986 and later WECH formally engaged his firm to advise on the take-over bid. After take-over Hilary led on the refurbishment of Walterton properties.

"This is easily the most important project I have been involved with and has helped so many people. What has been remarkable is that everyone has been able to make choices that suit them. I have personally dealt with every single resident who has been re-housed I would never have believed how highly responsible and reasonable people could be. There is no doubt that people's involvement has been a major incentive in looking after their property and continuing to make improvements. They are paying rent to their own association and they feel they own it. I hope WECH can instil that feeling in the new tenants who move in."

Resident Participation

During 1992 WECH began an extensive process of consultation for the planned works on the Walterton Estate. Meetings of residents discussed the general scope of the works and arrangements for moving people. They stressed the importance of good heating, storage space and security. An overall design brief was prepared for the estate and standard conversions developed for the dozen different house types. These designs could be modified to suit individual needs and wishes.

Everything was done to meet as many of the residents' preferences as possible and to preserve the fabric of the community. People who had previously bought their homes under the 'Right to Buy' legislation could swap their old one for a new one nearby on the estate, providing they were like for like. Housing officers asked residents whether they wanted to move, while the senior architect visited residents individually to discuss the options. In some cases residents proposed alterations which worked better than the original design or were less costly.

Demolishing a tower
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Updated January 23, 2011