IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Archway homes plan ‘must prioritise NHS staff’

Campaigners say campus is key to solving staff crisis

02 August, 2019 — By Emily Finch

Shirley Franklin, of the Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition

A WHITTINGTON Hospital campaigner has demanded that NHS key workers are prioritised at a new Peabody housing development a stone’s throw from the hospital in  Archway.

Earlier last month housing association giant Peabody released their latest plans to transform the derelict Archway Campus in Highgate Hill into 290 homes.

The plans, from the commercial arm of the housing association called Peabody Enterprises Limited, include a 12-storey tower and a promise that 50 per cent of the new homes will be “affordable” with “a significant proportion” of these at low-cost rent. The other 50 per cent of homes will be sold at market levels.

Shirley Franklin, from Defend the Whittington Hospital Coalition, told the Tribune: “There is a crisis in the NHS at the moment of retaining nursing staff. There is a lack of affordable accommodation for hospital workers, especially in Islington.

“These new homes should be made into staff housing at subsided rates, especially given the building’s history.”

The Victorian building in Highgate Hill was part of the Whittington hospital until 1998. It was then used by University College London and Middlesex University to train doctors and other medical staff. It was sold to Peabody for £100million in 2014 and has remained empty since then.

An illustration of how the new homes could look at the Archway Campus

A former version of the plan for the 3.5-acre site, which included a 20-storey tower, met huge opposition from residents back in 2017.

“Accommodation for nursing staff who work in the hospital, and their families, has to be prioritised – and this is a chance for Peabody to show their commitment to the local community,” said Ms Franklin.

Conservation group Better Archway Forum expressed opposition to the latest plans, saying the 12-storey tower was still too tall and will block the existing building’s main tower from view.

Meanwhile, homelessness campaign group Streets Kitchen has called for the empty buildings to be used as a temporary shelter. Jon Glackin, the founder of the volunteer group who provides meals to homeless people every night of the week, said: “It’s a shame to see such useful buildings empty and unused. We could provide a day centre there, or accommodation. It would be perfect.”

Peabody purchased the Holloway prison site from the Ministry of Justice for £82million earlier in the year. They offered the visitor centre to homelessness charities to turn into a temporary shelter, but Mr Glackin said they did not find the building suitable for his organisation’s needs.

“The Archway Campus building looks more suitable and I hope they will consider it, especially as it will be winter before we know it,” he said.

Peabody did not respond to a request for comment.

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