Background to Rowner
The Rowner estate was built by the Ministry of Defence for naval personnel and their families during the 1960s. Rowner Precinct, which was constructed to be the centre of the naval community, contains 301 maisonettes and flats.
During the housing boom of the 1980s, the estate was subsequently sold. A proportion of the low rise residential properties were purchased by Registered Social Landlords, whilst the remainder, including the high rise village area, were sold to a private company who offered the properties for purchase on 125 year leases.
Rowner Precinct has suffered from a lack of financial investment which has seen the building fabric deteriorate over the past 25 years. The poor environmental standards have caused property prices to collapse and the estate to suffer from social problems during the 1990s when crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour came close to creating a no-go area for public services.
Over the years it has been in the media spotlight due to its decaying infrastructure, lack of maintenance and resulting social challenges.
Unfortunately, a lack of infrastructure investment has caused Rowner Precinct building fabric to continue to deteriorate. The doctors’ surgery has closed and only a few shops remain open. The ‘NAAFI’ building is derelict and the underground car parks are threatening environments
Rowner Precinct remains in the top 20% most deprived areas in England and is generally regarded as one of the worst estate in South-East England. The Village has been featured on BBC’s “Panorama” and was nominated as one of the worst buildings in Britain in Channel 4’s “Demolition” programme shown in early 2006.
Property prices remain very low. A 2 bedroom large flat or maisonette for example, can still be purchased for approximately £25,000
Despite this there have been a number of excellent initiatives and real progress has been made to improve the local community. A considerable amount of public money has been invested in the Rowner estate. In 2000 the seven year Single Regeneration Budget Round 6 programme commenced and has created approximately £2.4M of investment for the Rowner estate. A 10 year SureStart programme was launched in July 2002 and many other initiatives have been undertaken by various public bodies.
The Nimrod Community Centre, refurbishment of Portsmouth Housing Association-owned housing stock and the community initiatives funded by the SRB and the SureStart project have all been instrumental in bringing the community together. This is evidenced now by the very popular annual Rowner Carnival and newly opened Rowner Youth Centre (the Youthy). There is a real sense of achievement and progress.
Improvements have been achieved and the Rowner estate has developed into an active community and instances of crime and anti-social behaviour have fallen. Issues remain, however, around education, heath, employment and family life.
There are also number of well established community groups and key “ambassadors” on the estate who can be called upon to continue the good work. The foundations are favourable for the Rowner Renewal Project. Many of the Partnership members feel that the Project can be seen as Phase II of the regeneration of the Rowner estate. It complements and continues the excellent work previously achieved. Indeed, it is recognised that this will be an ongoing commitment and will provide the catalyst for continuing regeneration.