IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Upper Street estate residents told their homes are safe from bulldozers

Pledge ends 18 months of uncertainty, but worries remain about rent increases

22 February, 2019 — By Emily Finch

The St Mary’s Path estate

THE new chief executive of a housing association has ruled out demolishing an historic estate in Upper Street after one-and-a-half years of uncertainty.

Residents at St Mary’s Path estate were in uproar after they were told during a consultation in October 2017 that their homes may be demolished because of damp.

But Ruth Davison, who took over the helm of Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA) six weeks ago, told the Tribune this week: “I’m really happy to make clear that there is absolutely no proposal to demolish the estate.”

She said a new six-week consultation on the future of the estate would be launched in April.

“I am acutely aware that residents have been waiting a long time for meaningful proposals of what we as a landlord want to do with their homes. People feel their lives are up in the air,” she said.

“We are moving quickly to establish a couple of solid proposals we can consult them on and there will be a six-week consultation. We will go to the board with the feedback, who will make a final decision.”

Residents have been told their rent may increase by as much as £200 a month, not including service charges, following the estate redevelopment.

Ms Davison said she could not comment on this until after the consultation. “I can’t change the past and I wasn’t here but they have my word we will carry out a genuine consultation,” she said. “I will be available [to residents] and so will others. We will be incredibly honest about the implications of the different options.

“It will be a proper, meaningful consultation.”

She added: “We’re not kicking people [out of the estate].”

Disgruntled residents formed a tenants’ and residents’ association (TRA) last year following the initial consultation, which they criticised as confusing and upsetting.

TRA member Georgia Hewitt said this week: “It’s obviously reassuring if there is now no proposal for demolition and if residents won’t be kicked off the estate.

“But we’re still very concerned about the proposed significant rent increases after a redevelopment, as these would mean that many of us wouldn’t realistically be able to stay here.

“Because we haven’t had a proper chance so far to shape the plans for our estate, we wonder if they really are for the current community here. But we cautiously welcome the news that ISHA are planning a genuine consultation and hope residents’ wishes about our homes and community will be respected in developing the new plans.”

Town Hall housing chief Councillor Diarmaid Ward met estate residents last week. He told the Tribune after the meeting: “Islington Council will not support any proposed scheme that results in a net loss of social homes.

“We are all about getting new council and social homes built in Islington, but as always we want to work with our residents to achieve this.”

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