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Portraits Of Holland Estate Residents

August 23, 2015
by the gentle author

(Celebrating the sixth anniversary of Spitalfields Life with a week of favourite posts from the last twelve months, before recommencing with new stories on 31st August)

After social housing association East End Homes submitted a pre-planning application for demolition of Holland Estate next to Petticoat Lane, prior to consulting with the people who live there, a member of the staff of East End Homes told residents their homes were “unfit for human habitation. Although Tower Hamlets Council voted unanimously in solidarity with the residents’ wish for refurbishment not demolition, and their campaign has also won of the support of Member of Parliament Rushanara Ali and Mayor John Biggs, East East Homes show no sign of relenting with their plans.

Contributing Photographer Sarah Ainslie & I spent an afternoon visiting flats on the Holland Estate to take these portraits and assess the accommodation for ourselves. We were touched by the strong sense of community we encountered and the generous welcome we received. We found the gracious brick structures are built of better quality materials than most modern developments and are humanely conceived, offering hospitable living spaces which are cherished and well-maintained by the occupants.

Ali Sahed Goyas &  Jahnara Choudhury have lived on the Holland Estate for twenty-five years

Alex Rhys-Taylor & Natasha Polyviou, residents for thirteen years, with their son Odysseus

Pascha Singh has lived on the Holland Estate for more than thirty years

Mahjdiyat, Shammi, Manveen & Arshan Ahmed at home

Yolanda De Los Buies has lived on the Holland Estate for seventeen years

Saleha Khanam with her son Shamsur Rahman and his wife Rushna Begum and their children Yaseen and Hamza – Four generations of this family have lived on the Holland Estate

Azar Ali has lived on the Holland Estate for thirty-one years

Nessa Aifun cares for her husband Rustum at home

Saleh Ahmed & Rusnobun  Bibi and their grandchildren Aakifah & Ismael

Kabir Ahmed & Nasrin Rob with their children Aakifah & Ismael

Murtata Choudhury has lived on the Holland Estate for fifty years

Shikiko Aoyama Sanderson & Jarrod Sanderson have lived on the Estate for six years

Samirun Chowdhury  with Saima Chowdhury and Taher Uddin outside Samirun & Saima’s home

Enrico Bonadio has lived on the Holland Estate for three years

Rob Ali, Ali Sayed Goyas, Asab Miah, Murtata Choudhury, Saleh Ahmed with Aakifah Ahmed & Mohammed Ismael Ali

Photographs copyright @ Sarah Ainslie

You can follow the Residents Against Demolition campaign on



Twitter  @bbcresidents

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At the Holland Estate

4 Responses leave one →
  1. August 23, 2015

    I always have to wonder at Housing associations who let their property get run down instead of investing money in it, and then declare it to be ‘unfit’ for habitation in order to destroy it. The residents have invested years of their lives, money, idealism and hard work into creating their homes there. The functioning community deserves to stay in their homes. East End Homes should be ashamed of themselves, and start using the money entrusted to them to repair and renovate the existing homes. Good luck to all the residents! Valerie

  2. Antony Macer permalink
    August 23, 2015

    An excellent choice for re-viewing. On of the Gentle Authors classics, for which I am very grateful.

  3. August 23, 2015

    This post brought alive how property development affects ordinary people; a fact ignored by those with the power to displace them. I’m sure you will keep your readers up-to-date with how this situation develops.

  4. christine thomas permalink
    August 23, 2015

    This estate deserves a human-chain demonstration of public support as per many of us joined in for Norton Folgate. These former LCC estates and their communities are as much a part of British architectural and social heritage as are Georgian terraces. So many examples in Tower Hamlets have been destroyed already, not only the buildings but the communities and spirit they house. Let’s demonstrate this spirit has not perished entirely and support those whoever’s life style is being threatened for another’s profit and for people who have plenty of other choices as to where they want to start a new life, unlike the residents of Holland Estate Estate. For, who knows who’s next?

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