A programme of art, culture and new infrastructure to reimagine the future of the UK’s biggest council housing estate

Becontree Forever is an ongoing programme of art, culture and new infrastructure to reimagine the future of the UK’s biggest council housing estate with its 85,000 residents.

The Becontree Estate in East London is the most ambitious of the country’s interwar housing estates. The first of 27,000 houses for returning war heroes and working families were built on the four square-mile estate in November 1921, with the ‘Garden City’ houses and iconic ‘Banjo’ closes recognised across the world.

Becontree Forever launched in 2021, the centenary of construction breaking ground on the estate. The centenary programme engaged with over 30,000 estate residents – in partnership with 59 schools, five care homes, 75 local arts and community organisations, and funders including Mayor of London, Arts Council England, Wellcome Trust and National Heritage Lottery Fund.

The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham is rebuilding the estate for future generations, working with residents, users and partners on major interventions such as new playgrounds, new public spaces, an estate wide design code, the extension of Kingsley Hall (the estate’s first community centre) and the purchase of Dagenham Heathway (a 1.3 hectare Eighties-build shopping centre).

Becontree Forever is led by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, in collaboration with residents and local partners such as the schools on the estate, Arc Theatre, Barking & Dagenham Youth Dance, East End Women’s Museum, Girls Like Us, Green Shoes Arts, Love Music Hate Racism, Studio 3 Arts, Soul and Sound and The White House and national partners such as Create London, EFG London Jazz Festival, Focal Point Gallery, Serpentine Galleries and the Wellcome Trust.

As part of Becontree Forever, the arts organisation Create London has been supported to deliver a series of projects and commissions. Create London is grateful for the funding and support of:

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Colour photography by Jim Stephenson