May 24 2013 Latest news:
by Tom Marshall
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
The Prince of Wales spoke about becoming a grandfather, his fear of getting trapped in lifts and even hamsters as he toured an award-winning housing development in Holloway today.
He paid a visit to Highbury Gardens in Holloway Road on Tuesday where he was invited in by some of the residents for a glimpse of their homes.
He was making the appearance because his Prince’s Foundation for Building Community has praised the £35million development – but he found time to discuss matters other than housing.
Mother-of-two Angela Stephenson, 39, a social tenant who was first to welcome the Prince into her home, said: “He was such a lovely man. He spent most of the visit in my daughter Kenadee’s bedroom. He sat down and spoke to her for ages.
“She spoke to him like she’d known him for years and told him all about her hamster. I don’t think she realises he’s the most important person she is likely to meet in her life!”
Angela’s mother, Shelley Stephenson, 57, said: “We had a chat about my grandchildren. He said ‘I’m not quite there [a grandparent] yet’ and I said ‘you will be soon!’ Television doesn’t do justice to him – he’s much better looking in person.”
Highbury Gardens was completed in 2011 and has since won a string of awards for design and affordability.
The foundation published a report this week that highlighted it as an excellent example of new housing that responds to the needs of the community at a time when there is a shortage of affordable housing, especially in Islington.
The block has 119 flats, of which 60 per cent are deemed affordable and key worker homes, and 15 per cent social rented housing, while 25 per cent were sold on the open market.
Prince Charles, who was joined by Housing Minister Mark Prisk MP and Richard Blakeway, London’s Deputy Mayor for Housing, also visited the home of secondary school teacher Shehnaz O’Mallie, 36, who is a key worker and lives in a two-bedroom flat with her cameraman husband.
Charles asked her if the lifts work and she answered “we always take the stairs”. He responded: “So did I. I’m always terrified of lifts. It’s who you get stuck in the lift with.”
Ms O’Mallie added: “This flat was a godsend, it’s incredible. We feel bad for people living in substandard properties paying more than we do. It’s ridiculously affordable, we’re paying £1,200 and we own 25 per cent. That’s what we were paying for a one-bed in an area that wasn’t as nice. It does feel a bit like a fairytale.”
Highbury Gardens, which boasts a courtyard, was built on a former brownfield site by developer First Base and Southern Housing Group, with the government’s Homes and Communities Agency contributing £3million in funding.