When plans were first announced to demolish the Larner Road estate in Erith, it could have been the end for an entire community.

Residents who had loved, lost, raised families and even held weddings in and around the seven tower blocks just off Northend Road faced separate futures.

But as a £120 million scheme to regenerate the area really begins to take shape, a group of around 250 residents who stuck with the area through thick and thin are still standing.

They are known as the stayers – 68 families out of the original 600 who have said no to Margate and all the other areas housing association Orbit South could have re-housed them.

Rosemary White, 82, first moved to Larner Road in 1980.

The grandmother-of-two told News Shopper: "I moved to Larner Road after I divorced my husband and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

"Lots of people thought it was the pits but I have had such a complete life since I’ve lived here.

"I don’t want to move out and I want to be there until the bitter end to see this through."

Rosemary had a two-bedroom flat on the 15th floor in Pretoria block with "wonderful" views which she still calls her home, even though the tower was one of the five knocked down in April last year.

News Shopper:

The building site at Erith Park, with two Larner Road tower blocks still standing in the background.  

She has since moved into one of the old remaining blocks overlooking the building site and can’t face another move to one of the new low rise properties, but is still delighted for those who will soon have new homes.

The Erith Park Core Residents Group member said: "I feel so excited for them and it really is a new beginning for everybody. "I’m all for a sense of belonging - that is the most important thing in life."

Developers Wates Living Space and housing association Orbit South are well on the way to building 343 homes out of a total of up to 620 for which they have outline planning permission on the site.

The vast construction site is humming with a workforce of nearly 270 and the first new residents are set to move in by the end of the year.

The old Larner Road had a high concentration of one bedroom flats and bedsits which tended to be allocated to vulnerable households with multiple problems.

But with a predominance of low rise two and three bedroom family homes, it is hoped the days of transient ‘problem’ tenants will be over.

Orbit regeneration contracts manager Gemma McGill said: "We are trying to take Erith back to its heyday.

"It’s not just about surviving, but about creating a place people want to live."