Revamp for Finsbury Health Centre – but not before 2030
Eye Hospital business quarter, new cycle lanes and removal of gyratory in Local Plan blueprint
23 November, 2018 — By Emily Finch
Finsbury Health Centre, designed by renowned architect Berthold Lubetkin
THE Town Hall has plans to refurbish a building hailed as a Modernist “masterpiece”, but those hoping to see rapid changes will have to wait more than 10 years.
Visitors have long called for Finsbury Health Centre, in Pine Street, to be upgraded after its sale to developers was fought six years ago. The centre, designed by renowned architect Berthold Lubetkin 80 years ago, houses a GP and dental surgery alongside a podiatrist.
It was built to offer a welcoming space for some of the city’s poorest residents. The site is owned and managed by NHS Property Services, but Islington Council has said it wishes to see the building refurbished in its Local Plan, released this week.
The plan acts as a blueprint for changes the council wants to see in the borough from 2020 to 2035.
It highlights more than 100 sites it would like to see developed or refurbished. In the plan, the “estimated timescale” for refurbishment of the health centre is from 2030 to 2035 – more than 12 years from now.
The plan calls for Moorfields Eye Hospital, in City Road, to be turned into a “new high-quality business quarter”.
It says: “The Moorfields site represents a unique opportunity to provide a very significant additional amount of business floorspace which would enable the expansion of this internationally important concentration of tech businesses.”
As first reported in the Tribune last year, there are plans to move the world-famous eye hospital to St Pancras Hospital by 2024.
The new Local Plan builds on Islington’s ‘tough planning policy ensuring that developers deliver the homes and workplaces local people need’
The Local Plan details proposals to ease traffic, make improvements for pedestrians and to build cycle lanes. The council is looking for feedback from residents.
The plan says: “The Seven Sisters Road, Isledon Road and Tollington Road gyratory system will be removed if feasible in the long term. A cycle route linking Camden and Tottenham Hale along Seven Sisters Road will be supported.
“A junction improvement incorporating a cycle route link between Sussex Gardens to Hornsey Road will be progressed. Junction improvements to Seven Sisters Road and Holloway Road, Hornsey Road and Seven Sisters Road and Holloway Road, Tollington Road and Camden Road will be prioritised.”
The plan enshrines a council pledge to deliver more homes, with at least 50 per cent of new housing being “genuinely affordable”.
It says that all sites capable of delivering “10 or more conventional units” or where “1,000sqm residential floorspace or more” is proposed and which are or have been in public ownership must provide 50 per cent genuinely affordable homes.
The council sets out stringent viability rules to prevent developers from building fewer than 50 per cent affordable homes. Developers use viability assessments to determine how many affordable homes can be built on a site while returning a healthy profit.
But critics say these numbers can be manipulated to build fewer affordable homes, something the council has long opposed.
The council won a High Court battle over the number of affordable homes planned by a developer on the site of a former Territorial Army building in Holloway in April.
Other sites which the council have earmarked for development include Clerkenwell Fire Station, in Rosebery Avenue, and the Sainsbury’s site in Liverpool Road, which it says “offers an opportunity for the development of a significant amount of retail and business floorspace, to complement and enhance the existing character and function of the area”.
There are roughly 166 sites listed in the Local Plan, of which around a third already have planning permission.
Housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward said: “The council has been very successful in the past using tough planning policy to ensure that developers deliver the homes and workplaces local people need, and the new Local Plan builds on that approach.
“We have very little usable space for development left in Islington so each and every development must make the best possible use of space, as well as providing tangible benefits that help ensure that everyone, whatever their background, has the same opportunity to reach their potential and enjoy a good quality of life.”
The council is inviting feedback on the draft Local Plan until January 14.