Flats for vulnerable adults or an institution through the back door?
02 February, 2018
The proposed Windsor Street building
• VIRGINIA Bovell accuses me of being hostile to homes for vulnerable people (Why this hostility to homes for such vulnerable people? January 26).
Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though Ms Bovell lives nowhere near the Windsor Street site, Housing and Adult Social Services invited her to attend a consultation meeting in June 2015 to help defend their proposal.
In contrast, most of the local residents, some of whom also have children with learning disabilities, were not invited.
As for “several meetings”, the truth is that a few residents from Packington Street have been in contact with the council about the development.
The minutes of one meeting they attended in November 2015 promises a proper consultation and an open day event for the whole community – it still hasn’t been arranged.
The council has failed to abide by the Localism Act and involve the community in planning matters. Residents from Popham Street and Cumming estates were never invited to any of the meetings, and these are the people who will be affected heavily by this development.
The distress to residents is not “short-term inconvenience”. Combined with other building work opposite the proposed development, there will be considerable disruption and a complete change to Windsor Street, making it narrower, darker and potentially less safe for residents.
Additionally, the loss of parking spaces on the site and on the road will greatly impact residents, especially the elderly and disabled who rely on the garages, and will affect the ability of their carers to park nearby.
Residents here would not find “living near adults with learning disabilities distressing or upsetting”. We are not opposed to Islington Council providing “appropriate local housing” for these vulnerable adults.
The key here is what is “appropriate”, Windsor Street is not a well-designed building. It does not even come up to the same standards as family housing.
Since the residence for adults with learning disabilities in Leigh Road in Highbury was built in 2014, the rules have been quite rightly tightened to protect vulnerable people.
NHS England, the National Institution for Health and Care Excellence and the Care Quality Commission all agree: they should live in “ordinary homes” accommodating less than six people, on “ordinary streets”, and these homes should not be grouped together on one site.
It is no wonder that Learning Disability England has described the council proposal for Windsor Street as an “institution through the back door”.
Ms Bovell’s son may be happily settled in Leigh Road, but she should have noted that the Windsor Street site is six times smaller than Leigh Road yet it will accommodate almost as many vulnerable adults (up to 17).
How normal is it for this many people, who don’t know each other, to live together? Why is this discrimination acceptable? The experts think it’s wrong. Overall, the facts stand for themselves. This is not simply anecdotal experience of a single individual.
I am not Ms Bovell’s adversary, I am simply calling for the council to do its duty and provide a proper consultation and to build suitable homes.
Popham Street estate, N1