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Junkie hotspot in Crouch Hill is turned into new primary school

16:06 05 October 2012

Steve Wibberley, Operations Manager on the site with Cllrs West and Watts and Wendy Bristow

Steve Wibberley, Operations Manager on the site with Cllrs West and Watts and Wendy Bristow

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A run-down wasteland once littered with heroin needles is set to become a public ecology centre and brand new school.

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The Cape Youth Project and new Ashmount Primary School development, which is now nearing completion in Crouch Hill Park, will cost around £16.5million.

The youth project, which is set to reopen in November, features a recording studio, learning spaces, a dance studio, biomass boilers to help the site stay carbon neutral as well as a roof terrace complete with bird-watching hides.

It will also have a cafe to act as a stopping point roughly halfway along the Parkland Walk, a popular trail along an old railway track.

The new Ashmount School will also be carbon neutral – the first such school in the country – and has a brown roof, climbing plants on the walls and planted grassland and wildflowers to encourage the birds, bats and invertebrates in the park to propagate.

It is currently on track to be ready for the new term after Christmas.

The council hopes to get some of the £16.5million back by controversially selling the former Ashmount School, in Ashmount Road, for housing.

But nearby residents don’t want any more houses in the area and are resisting the council, which is yet to write to education secretary Michael Gove to ask for permission to change the use of the site.

The third part of the project, which is already up-and-running, is the Bowlers Nursery which opened in August and offers day care and education for the under-fives.

The whole park is being re-landscaped as part of the project and will have better lighting and wheelchair access when completed.

Energy created by the boilers in the bowels of the Cape will be used to provide hot water to the residents of neighbouring Coleman Mansions.

Wendy Bristow, head of positive activities at Islington Council, said: “I am really excited. It’s a huge change but it’s going to be absolutely fantastic.”

Cllr Richard Watts, Islington Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “The biggest health and safety issue when we started was all the used needles.

“The site had become so run down and neglected that hardly anyone used it.”

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