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Life on one of Hammersmith and Fulham’s most deprived estates

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

The first thing that strikes you about west London’s White City Estate is its size. The place is huge.

The Shepherd’s Bush complex, which began construction in the late 1930s, today houses 4,201 people spread across 2,062 homes. It was the former London City council’s largest such project in the period before the Second World War, and continues to stand as a mammoth example of mid-20th century estate building.

The area is a hive of activity, with developments such as the White City Central and EdCity schemes delivering new homes, a school, a youth centre and more.

But, over the years, the estate has become most commonly known for its battles with crime and poverty.

Work on the White City Estate began in the 1930s, though did not finish until after the war (Picture:Facundo Arrizabalaga)

According to the blog, Municipal Dreams, in 2009 White City was among “the most deprived areas in the country” in terms of household income. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) details how, according to Census 2021 data, 36.6 per cent of households in White City are deprived in one dimension, the highest for any area in Hammersmith and Fulham.

Dejour Morrell Mason, 28, has lived on the estate for most of his life.  He said: “It was really bad growing up. This is much better. This is much safer for kids.

“You’ve got Irish, you’ve got Somalian. Everyone is all together, Muslims and everyone. This is one of the rarest places. Everywhere else has segregation.”

Mr Mason said that following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, which was not far from the estate, residents clubbed together to place clothes outside Loftus Road in support of those impacted.

Ibtisam Hassan, 18, similarly spoke highly of the tight-knit nature of the estate. Like Mr Mason, her family has lived in White City for decades, in their case 25 years.

Ms Hassan also touched on the historic issues with the estate, namely violence. But, she said that “as time went on, they grew older, the people that were doing it. They started a different page in their life.”

Ibtisam Hassan (right) and Raweyda Mahamud (left) (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

Another long-time resident, Mohammed Ejaz, 54, said that while the estate used to be rough, things had improved.

“There was a little bit, rough kids around, but now it’s okay,” he said.

The general optimism aired by residents like Mr Mason was not echoed by everyone.

Tania Jahan, 34, who lives with her husband Fardus Miah, 39, and three children, said her youngest was born with a cold in December 2022, due damp and mould in the flat.

A health visitor had written to Westminster council, under whose care the family fall despite the property being in Hammersmith and Fulham, in which they described the flat as ‘inadequate’ and a threat to the family’s health.

Mr Miahsaid: “The kids are cramped in a mouldy place, we can’t go out anywhere, and it’s a health and safety issue for the baby.”

A spokesperson for Hammersmith and Fulham council said it is making a number of improvements to the estate, including new LED lighting and upgrades to the door entrances to buildings.

They added the council’s Law Enforcement Team (LET) also regularly patrol, and worked with Community Safety colleagues to introduce a Public Space Protection Order in 2022 which helped clamp down on noise nuisance from amplified music.

A spokesperson for Westminster council said it is working with the family and Notting Hill Genesis, the provider, to arrange “much-needed repairs” as soon as possible.

Pictured top: Mohammed Ejaz spoke positively of the White City Estate (Picture: Facundo Arrizabalaga)

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