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Car parks and garages to make way for new homes on Finsbury Park’s Andover Estate

PUBLISHED: 17:30 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 12:31 09 November 2017

An artist's impression of one of the new blocks, as seen from Seven Sisters Road. Picture: Studio Partington

An artist's impression of one of the new blocks, as seen from Seven Sisters Road. Picture: Studio Partington

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Multi-million-pound plans to redevelop the Andover Estate in Finsbury Park and create 69 new homes were signed off this week.

A proposed garage conversion, as seen from Newington Barrow Way. Picture: Studio Partington A proposed garage conversion, as seen from Newington Barrow Way. Picture: Studio Partington

The sprawling estate, which was built in two stages starting in the 1950s, has 1,064 homes across its 10 hectare site housed in old five-storey blocks and newer low-rises.

None of the buildings will be demolished completely, but some one-bed flats will be converted into bigger, family-sized homes and garages will also be transformed.

The first phase, which is the only part of the project fully-formed at this stage, will see 64 homes built, a net increase of 56 to 63 per cent of which will be affordable.

Policy states that when building on its own land, councils should aim for all housing to be affordable, but when a public subsidy is required, as in this case, it is deemed acceptable to fall below that figure.

How the new blocks will look in Durham Road, from Lennox Road. Picture: Studio Partington How the new blocks will look in Durham Road, from Lennox Road. Picture: Studio Partington

Of them, 34 will be for social rent, with 26 for private sale.

That could be the three-storey townhouses with private gardens being built in a tucked away section near the Old Andover estate and the Victorian terraces of Birnam Road.

Interestingly, town hall officers say the properties being built for private sale are required for “balance”. The London Plan makes clear the need for mixed communities, though it’s usually referenced as a reason why social housing should be built, rather than private.

The plans are music to the ears of people who live there, it seems. More than 2,600 letters were sent out to every person living on the estate outlining the plans and only 16 objected.

An artist's impression of one of the new blocks. Picture: Studio Partington An artist's impression of one of the new blocks. Picture: Studio Partington

Katie White, chair of the Andover’s Tenants and Residents’ Association, sat on the steering committee and says planners listened, and addressed, their concerns.

“Everyone is quite positive about it,” she said. “There’s a few that don’t like it but there always is. Me personally, and my neighbours, like what they are doing.

“We didn’t at first, but there have been changes. They’ve put in the things we wanted like green spaces and play areas.”

One of the main things people are pleased about is the creation of safer walkways on the estate. The town hall admits the current situation is “poor”.

The Andover Estate is one of the worst hit areas in the borough The Andover Estate is one of the worst hit areas in the borough

Blind spots and pinch points mean people often avoid passing through the estate and these have too been addressed. A “home zone” will be created around the existing routes, with better landscaping and lighting.

“It is unsafe at the moment,” said Katie. “I don’t walk those routes now because I don’t know people. Years ago I used to, when I knew everybody.”

Phase one of the project will see garages converted into homes and a seven-storey block built on an existing car park. The work highlights how little space Islington has to play with to build the much needed new homes for the 18,000 people on the waiting list.

Open spaces will be created to replace the land being built on, and affordable workspace will also be built.

The Andover Estate. The Andover Estate.

The project also includes improvements to the refuse and recycling arrangements and landscaping work. The loss of car parking will anger some, but the aim is to improve it for pedestrians and cyclists, who will get more than 750 new parking spaces for their bikes.

Islington Council’s housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward said: “London is in the grip of a massive housing crisis, and we’re doing everything we can to help tackle the situation and build genuinely affordable new housing, especially new council homes.

“Islington Council is now delivering the biggest programme of new council-house building in the borough for a generation. The Andover Estate regeneration project will provide genuinely affordable housing that is desperately needed in Islington.

“The projects will also bring major improvements to the estate, and we’re committed to continuing to work closely with local residents as this project moves forward.”

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