London School of Economics LSE Housing and Communities LSE
LSE Housing and Communities

Priority Estates Project

Anne Power of LSE Housing was a key player in the establishment of the Priority Estates Project (PEP) in 1979. This live experiment on 20 rundown and hard to let social housing estates introduced localised management as a rescue measure to reverse often appalling conditions in these areas. By using an intensive and integrated approach, and reinforcing a small-scale service and the involvement of tenants, the PEP Model of Estate-based Housing Management aimed to demonstrate that local management is a vital ingredient in rescuing the worst estates. By 1982 most of the 20 estates with local offices had improved almost beyond recognition.

Today PEP is funded by Section 16 money from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and many other organisations including local authorities, housing associations and housing companies in order to provide advice, hands-on project work, training and research services to social housing tenants all round the country. In 1985 Anne Power was awarded an MBE for her work in the Priority Estates Project in Brixton.

LSE Housing tracked change in the 20 estates involved in the PEP experiment over the period of 15 years (1980-95). The findings were published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as the report Swimming Against the Tide: progress and polarisation on 20 unpopular council estates 1980-1995 by Anne Power and Rebecca Tunstall. The report sets out to capture how developments since 1980 have affected those living and working on the estates. It examines the role of council landlords, residents and central government in tackling - or creating - the problems of the most marginal communities over a 15 year period of promised changes and powerful polarisation.

Recently LSE Housing has been funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to revisit the 20 estates featured in Swimming against the Tide. The new study will cover a quarter of a century of policy and social change on the same estates. (See Turning the Tide? 25 years on 20 council estates.)