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The past and future of Luton’s Marsh Farm estate

Marsh Farm in the 1960s

Marsh Farm in the 1960s

Housing estates like Lewsey Farm, Hockwell Ring and Marsh Farm were built in the 1950s and 1960s as part of the post war expansion of Luton.

Planned in the mid ‘60s, Marsh Farm takes its name from the farm next to Leagrave Marsh which covered much of the land on which the estate was constructed.

Wauluds Bank, which curves around part of the estate, is the site of a Mesolithic camp that dates back as far as 3000BC.

Marsh Farm has a population of about 10,000, with 3,200 homes, mainly council and social housing, dominated by three 15-storey tower blocks – Lea Bank, Penhill and Five Springs.

The estate made national news headlines in 1995 when social problems and several years of niggling tension between police and groups of youths erupted into three nights of running battles.

Although Bedfordshire Police were helped by the Metropolitan Police riot squad, the situation was eventually brought under control when rave organisers the Exodus Collective staged an impromptu party out of town, which attracted 1,500 young people from the area.

The New Deal For Communities Fund was created in 2000 and Marsh Farm was one of hundreds of poorer areas invited to put together a plan which could be granted up to £50million over a ten-year period.

In April 2001, Marsh Farmers were told that the estate’s bid had been successful and £48.3million was granted.

In 2010, the old Coulters factory in the middle of the estate was demolished and a community enterprise and resource centre, called Marsh Farm Futures House, was built. It opened for community business in 2011.

 

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