IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Plan to demolish Upper Street flats ‘is making us ill’, say estate residents

Neighbours: ‘They’re messing about with our lives for no reason’ by knocking down 20 homes

21 June, 2019

From left, residents Pat Roberts, Maureen Roberts, Jenny Gordon, the Rev Simon Harvey, Sidney Rodwell, Nick Welsh and Jackie Hughes. ‘Demolition wasn’t on the cards and now it is,’ said Ms Roberts

RESIDENTS living on a historic Islington estate have accused their housing association of “messing about with our lives for no reason” after plans were released to demolish and rebuild one of its blocks.

A group of neighbours on St Mary’s Path estate, off Upper Street, which is owned and managed by Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA), have said they feel “unsettled, exhausted and frightened” after the latest vision for their homes was released as part of a consultation.

As previously reported in the Tribune, ISHA proposed demolishing the entire estate to deal with damp back in October 2017.

St Mary’s House from the gardens of St Mary’s church

Following uproar from residents, the housing association’s chief executive Ruth Davison said earlier this year that “there is absolutely no proposal to demolish the estate”.

But members of the estate’s tenants’ and residents’ association (TRA) have now accused her of going against her word with the latest proposals.

“Demolition wasn’t on the cards and now it is,” said Maureen Roberts, a TRA member. “I feel frightened. I feel unsettled and I think it’s making us ill. I’ve spent this week just crying and it’s such a shock. They’re messing about with our lives for no reason.”

Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association chief executive Ruth Davison

ISHA has proposed knocking down St Mary’s House – a block with 20 homes – which would give it “an opportunity to provide three- and four-bedroom family homes that meet modern space standards to address overcrowding on the estate”.

It says the block “was most affected by damp and water ingress” and “has a sizeable amount of land which the new building could be enlarged to occupy”.

Fellow TRA member Georgia Christian asked ISHA: “If you lead us to think demolition is off the cards and now it’s on the cards, why should we believe anything ISHA says? Why should we believe all your other promises?”

The plans put forward by ISHA include a multimillion pound refurbishment of the estate, which mostly dates from the 1930s. It will involve an “insulated render” on the outside of the blocks, along with new windows, doors, boilers and ventilation systems.

TRA chairman Nicolas Christian, who has welcomed the refurbishment, asked why ISHA was still planning to demolish the block “even though there is no serious issue or structural fault with the building”.

He added: “The option to demolish St Mary’s House comes as a big shock and shows ISHA are still not prepared to follow residents’ views.”

Ms Davison was “utterly categorical” that ISHA was not planning to demolish the estate, adding that St Mary’s House was “one out of five buildings”.

The new block will offer “modern space standards”. “People who live in family homes will be able to go into those homes on social rent levels and their rent would be exactly the same.”

She added: “We have made a commitment to all of the families that their rents will be the same. They will be on social rents following the estate’s planned refurbishment.

“All the issues people have told us we have tried to deal with. We want to make sure the existing community are protected and those are the ones going to get good warm lovely homes to live in.”

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