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Damage caused when Bunhill estate is turned into building site

03 May, 2019

Glyn Robbins: ‘People are being worn down’

• I JUST want to support residents of Quaker Court who are opposing plans to have 21 homes built on top of them, (Tenants ‘worn down by building work’, April 26). Glyn Robbins is correct when he says that people are being worn down by all the building work.

Facts are offered as a way of opposing residents’ fears – as councillor Phil Graham uses in his letter (My fact-finding mission into estate development, April 26), but facts don’t answer the psychological damage this constant building work is doing to us here in Bunhill.

I live on the St Luke’s estate and in the last four years we have been surrounded with building development, which brings dust, noise, inconvenience and anxiety. There’s the feeling of powerlessness that comes when great changes are happening to your neighbourhood and there’s nothing you can do about it.

We live here. It is our home. Yet it has been turned into a building site. I wonder how much consultation was done between the different development bodies, corporations and boroughs to understand the impact this has had on us? We are offered apologies for the inconvenience, and often poorly advertised public consultations that seem to have little effect on the outcome.

In the case of the council’s own development, we council tenants are offered by way of reward a chance to move into the new buildings. Thanks for this, but some of us don’t want to move, thank you very much. Apart from the development work we have been assailed by, we are quite happy living where we are.

I have tried to keep to the facts, but I am mostly stating what it feels like. It feels like we are being overlooked, particularly by private developers whose main thrust is to make a profit. I feel they would be happy if all the social housing was emptied so the City and IT industries can continue to creep unabated into Bunhill, Clerkenwell and up to the Angel and beyond.

In the recently-published Islington Plan, St Luke’s estate is now in an “opportunity zone” and the Moorfields Hospital site, due to be vacated by the hospital within four years, will be given planning permission for yet another tall, commercial building.

Recently in the Tribune, residents in Finsbury Park and the north of the borough asked that new, tall building development stay in the south. Well, sorry guys, we are developed-out down here. We are a large residential population of mixed social housing with “development fatigue”, and are being neglected.

Here’s the list of developments, as best as I can recall, all of which have been going on between 200 and 400 metres of my home since 2015, a lot of these happening either simultaneously or consecutively:

The Atlas Building in East Road (40 storeys high), Eagle House, 167 City Road (26 storeys), Montcalm Building (23 storeys), redevelopment of the old PO building at 205 Old Street, redevelopment of Redbrick estate in Bath Street, redevelopment of the old Royal Mail building and land at the corner of Bunhill Row and Old Street, refurb of offices above the Masque Haunt pub in Old Street, Moorfields School demolition in Bunhill Row and new private housing build (right opposite Quaker Court), the new Peabody building at present going up where the old YMCA building stood in Errol Street, renovation of Finsbury Tower at 105 Bunhill Row, and last but not least the huge Transport for London development just started at Old Street roundabout. Look it up on Google maps and you will see what a tiny area I am writing about.

I don’t condemn all development. I applaud wholeheartedly the new build on our Redbrick estate and the recent decision that it will now be given over entirely to council housing. Hurrah! But surely there’s a limit to what the residents in one small area can take?

Good luck, Quaker Court. Let them hear your concerns as to what it feels like having buildings constructed on top of your home. Feelings are important. Planners and builders won’t be living here.

They won’t understand. And it doesn’t fit into their list of boxes to be ticked. Force them to create a new box, “psychological impact” or “emotional consideration”. Or do away with the boxes. We are human beings! And that’s a fact.

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