Islington Council signs off £7m rescue package for controversial Golden Lane school and housing project
PUBLISHED: 14:40 15 June 2018
A huge project to build a social housing block on the Golden Lane estate will go ahead after the council agreed to fund it with £7million of unspent Right to Buy cash.
The joint development between Islington Council and the City of London involves building a two-form entry primary academy and 66 council flats.
The new 420-pupil City of London Primary Academy Islington will be built on the old Richard Cloudesley School site, and half of the homes will go to families on Islington’s 18,300 housing list.
But after Islington planners told developers £4m worth of changes were needed, the City said it could no longer afford the project, and Islington was left needing to stump up the cash.
Islington’s executive signed off the funding last night. It comes amid an ongoing campaign opposing the scheme by neighbours, who say it is overdevelopment of the historic estate. They have now launched a crowdfunder to raise money for legal advice on how best to challenge the proposals.
Islington had to pay £7m because bizarre government-imposed restrictions on how Right to Buy receipts can be spent mean a £4m grant from the Greater London Authority (GLA) could no longer be used for the scheme and Islington therefore has to cough up for the entire thing. Instead, the £4m of GLA cash will be spent on another social housing development somewhere in Islington.
The restrictions also state Right to Buy receipts must be spent within three years or given to the government with interest, and that only 30pc of new housing projects can be paid for with the money.
Islington’s housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward told the Gazette the town hall was now having to find innovative ways to spend the money ahead of a looming three-year cut off.
“I’m not sure we’d necessarily lose it if we didn’t use it for this,” he said. “But that is a real and present danger because of all the restrictions. The government makes it very hard.
“We’re not in the business of giving the government the money. We’ll find any way we can to spend it.”
Cllr Ward wouldn’t reveal how much Right to Buy cash the council had going spare.
He added he was meeting housing associations next week to discuss a similar approach to Hackney’s, in which the cash is given to housing associations providing they build homes for families on the waiting list.