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Finsbury tenants: We’re in the dark over St Luke’s redesign

Burnhill residents fear leisure centre redevelopment will put block in ‘permanent shadow’

01 September, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Burnhill House residents let their feelings be known by hanging banners from their balconies

A GROUP of Finsbury residents have launched a campaign calling for a redesign of plans to redevelop a leisure centre and build new housing, fearing it will plunge their homes into darkness.

Tenants of Burnhill House, a housing association-run block opposite Finsbury Leisure Centre, stuck banners onto their balconies this week in protest at what they described as being ignored by Islington Council, which is set to redevelop the area around St Luke’s.

Burnhill House resident Alex Walker said: “What they’re proposing is a massive building along St Luke’s Gardens. It’s a plan for a gated community and it’s done under the guise of the redevelopment of the leisure centre. But there will be less leisure facilities in the end.

“And they could easily provide more information but we get these letters, there’s actually more information on a regular takeaway leaflet.”

The council has a long-held ambition to redevelop the wider St Luke’s area with new council housing, a new leisure centre with four football pitches, a GP practice and an expanded energy centre to provide cheaper, green energy to homes and businesses.

Last year, architects Pollard Thomas Edwards won a design competition for the scheme.

But the Burnhill House tenants say they are being ignored in the design process, and are calling for a rethink. They say the development as shown on artist’s impressions is too big and will force their block and St Luke’s Gardens into a “permanent shadow” and will lead to fuel poverty for some.

Burnhill House resident Liz Eversmith said: “We’ve been trying for three years to be listened to by our councillors. We are not being heard. This is overdevelopment.”

Mother-of-two Carley O’Connor, who has lived in the block for almost two decades, added: “We oppose [plans for] the flats opposite us because we get absolutely no benefit. We are never told about anything, the social housing tenants are ignored.”

Councillor Janet Burgess, Islington’s health and wellbeing chief, said the project was “still at an early stage”.

“We have spoken to representatives from Burnhill House about the project, but clearly more needs to be done,” she added. “We’re sorry residents don’t feel they have been kept in the loop, and will be organising a meeting and also talking to residents individually.

“Overall, the Finsbury Leisure Centre will bring many local benefits. As well as the new council homes and leisure centre there will be a new GP, nursery, improved open space and a new permanent home for Bunhill Energy Centre.”

There will be a full public consultation later this year on the proposals, and feedback will be taken into account before a planning application is submitted, the council said.

• The resi­dents’ petition can be signed at: www.change.org/p/redesign?source_location=minibar

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