IslingtonTribune

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Tenants fear St Mary’s Path estate will be bulldozed – to beat damp

‘Is this an excuse to move us out? This feels like social cleansing’

13 October, 2017 — By Emily Finch

From left, residents Pat Roberts, Maureen Roberts, Jenny Gordon, the Rev Simon Harvey, Sidney Rodwell, Nick Welsh and Jackie Hughes

A HOUSING association is under fire after releasing plans which could mean demolishing an entire estate to deal with damp.

Residents, some of whom have been living on St Mary’s Path estate for more than 60 years, say they do not want to move away from their tight-knit community off Upper Street.

Maureen Roberts, 73, who has lived on the estate for more than 20 years, said: “Are they using damp as an excuse to move us out? And if they do move us out temporarily, will we come back to the same terms and conditions, rents and flats as before?

“This feels like social cleansing and this problem seems London wide.”

There are currently 103 homes on the estate managed by Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA), most of which are three-bedroom flats. Four out of the five blocks of flats were built in the 1930s, with the fifth one built 20 years later. Residents pay about 70 per cent below market rate for their rents.

In a letter to residents, the housing association says that, because of the “persistence of damp and the age of the buildings, ISHA board thought it prudent to review the entire estate”. It would “take this opportunity to provide financial investment to address damp as a whole and eradicate it completely, as well as to provide the properties with at least a further 30-year lifespan.”

But residents are worried that, if the flats are demolished and rebuilt, they will no longer be let at affordable rents.

St Mary’s Path estate

“I don’t want to move. I was born here and my grandad lived here and my mum lived here,” said Jackie Hughes, 62. “I’ve never lived anywhere else. We had a big party in 1977, for the Silver Jubilee. It was wonderful.”

Throughout this month, residents have been invited to a consultation on the estate’s future, where they were told there are five main options, including demolition and redevelopment of the entire estate.

The option preferred by the group is to refurbish the blocks with damp-proofing measures, including new double- glazing and doors. Another option is to refurbish blocks and build new homes on existing roofs.

“If damp is such a big issue, why are they suggesting building houses on top?” asked resident Jenny Gordon.

Residents say they were left more confused and angry following the first drop-in consultation session with ISHA on Monday. Ms Gordon added: “The girls who were there didn’t know anything.”

The Reverend Simon Harvey, from nearby St Mary’s Church, has joined his neighbours in their fight against demolition.

“One of the problems I have is the process is very poor,” he said. “If you want to get good information from people and comments you need to inform them. There has to be much more information.”

The consultation stage is due to end on November 9. The Tribune understands a decision on the estate’s future will be made by ISHA board in December.

ISHA could not be reached for comment after multiple phone calls and emails yesterday (Thursday).

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