New vision for Highbury Fields is unveiled
Architects promote single development to replace park’s ‘dilapidated’ buildings
02 March, 2018 — By Samantha Booth
A model of plans for Highbury Fields proposed by Clerkenwell-based architects Levitate
A CAFÉ and playgroup on Highbury Fields could be rehomed in one big building – but a residents’ association is calling for the Town Hall to consider keeping them separate.
Architects Levitate revealed its five options for the north-east corner of the fields where the current “poor quality” buildings are housing The Oasis Café and One O’Clock Club could be knocked down or remodelled.
Its preferred option – number four – would see a single new building with a south east-facing terrace, also for public toilets and a park-keeper.
They say this model would improve views to the café, offer level access from both paths and be more secure.
However, Martin Jones, chairman of the Highbury Fields Association, said there is local demand for the services to remain separate, as two buildings.
He added: “It’s quite a large, long and narrow building proposed. At meetings in the past, we have all said ‘yes’ to two buildings.” Mr Jones also said option four could encroach on park views.
Three options include retaining two buildings by either extending them, rebuilding both buildings or moving the café closer to the One O’Clock Club on the other side of the path.
Levitate said extending the buildings would mean trees would be removed and asbestos could cause difficulties. The fifth option would also see a single building, but facing a different angle.
Tim Sloan, co-founder of Clerkenwell-based Levitate, said: “We’ve presented a number of options to give people the chance to express their view. We’ve pinned our colours to the mast in terms of what we are recommending, but the council is at liberty to make their own mind up.
“We were expecting people to have differing views. We think the preferred option will also allow the current facilities to stay open for longer, too.”
The council has about £551,000 of section 106 contributions to spend, but would need to raise the rest. When tendering for a designer, an unconfirmed project budget was given of £1.5million.
Mr Sloan said he hoped the new site would be finished by 2020.
Caroline Russell, the Green Party councillor for Highbury East ward, said: “The architects Levitate have produced a thoughtful analysis of the possible choices for upgrading the increasingly dilapidated buildings on Highbury Fields.
“I’m looking forward to hearing people’s feedback to inform the council’s decision about how to take this essential work forward. It’s not an option to do nothing as it’s unfair for people to be working in and using the buildings in their current broken state.”
Two consultation events were held this week but residents can give feedback until March 12 by visiting islington.gov.uk/consultations/highbury-fields-consultation