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Homes plan at former hospital site ‘ignores heritage status’

Housing association has unveiled its fourth set of plans in three years for the historic Archway Campus

13 December, 2019 — By Sam Ferguson

An artist’s view of Archway Campus – the buildings that will be demolished are shown in red. Image: Peabody

CAMPAIGNERS have warned fresh plans to build 290 homes on a former hospital site have ignored the land’s conservation area status.

Housing association Peabody has unveiled its fourth set of plans in three years for the historic Archway Campus at the bottom of Highgate Hill.

The current buildings on the site are within a protected area that is supposed to ensure any development must “enhance or preserve” it in line with government policy.

Peabody wants to build seven new buildings around the former infirmary for the Holborn and Finsbury Union, which was designed by the Victorian architect Henry Saxon Snell. The buildings will include a 14-storey tower block at the south end and “bookend extensions” which will provide new lifts.

But architect Adrian Betham, from the conservation group Better Archway Forum, said: “Our main complaint is all the information isn’t there as far as this consultation is concerned.

“There are no plans displayed for buildings that are currently there or for buildings that will be there when they’re finished.

“Peabody are going to a lot of trouble to restore areas of the site and then they’re going to put a large tower block in front of it. It doesn’t make sense.”

He added: “When they bought the land they knew about the conservation area and all the restrictions. But the plans don’t refer to the conservation area statement at all.”

The council’s conservation area statement describes the Archway campus’s Victorian buildings as of “high architectural significance”.

A library and commercial spaces would be built beneath the tower blocks, under the plans, and there will be redesigned communal areas.

Andrew Thomas, whose garden overlooks the site, said: “I think there’s a better way of doing it. Given that there’s a lot of green land and a lot of open space – use some of that.”

But another Lidyard Road resident, Martin Aberdeen, 54, said any plan including affordable housing was a positive. “There’s a housing shortage that needs to be filled,” he said.

Peabody are planning to submit a planning application in early 2020, with construction to start later in the year subject to planning approval.

It aims to make 50 per cent of the 290 homes “affordable”, with 20 per cent of those designated for shared ownership.

A Peabody spokesman said: “We want to conserve and refurbish key historic buildings on the Archway Campus, provide much-needed housing including a high level of rented homes, and deliver new community benefits and public gardens.”

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