Editor’s comment: Expert has spoken – now over to ISHA

PUBLISHED: 15:15 25 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:36 26 October 2017

Residents of St Mary's Path Estate. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Residents of St Mary's Path Estate. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Polly Hancock

Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association still hasn’t responded to our requests for comment on the St Mary’s Path estate.

That aside, I remain hopeful that its intentions are good, and that it has no plan to demolish the 103 homes off Upper Street without the say-so of the people who actually live there.

It has put forward other, less destructive plans for dealing with the damp that plagues parts of the estate, and those efforts should be applauded. Too many landlords do too little to tackle the poor conditions of their stock, be it on the scale of hundreds of homes or a single house. Over the border in Hackney, the council is hoping to secure powers to fine rogue property owners up to £30,000 for failing to keep up with maintenance and repairs.

But it is a familiar story, too, for the shabby condition of council housing past or present to be used as an excuse for its “redevelopment” – with little discussion of the management (or lack thereof) that led to it ending up that way. So it’s particularly interesting to read an expert surveyor effectively nailing shut the coffin on the idea that damp can ever be so bad as to merit demolition. Even if an estate has been deliberately neglected, as landlords at all levels have been accused of doing, it is viable to spend money refurbishing it rather than to knock it down. Certainly that option remains available at St Mary’s Path.

Whatever the reason for ISHA’s silence, I hope Jason Mahoney’s offer and expertise make their way to whoever is in charge of this project as a gentle reminder that there is no need to demolish anything.

The Gazette will be watching closely to ensure the wishes of tenants and leaseholders, and a proportionate response to the state of the stock, are the deciding factor in the estate’s future.

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