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Emily Thornberry ‘proud’ of Islington Council reaction to housing crisis as new Bemerton Estate flats open

PUBLISHED: 16:39 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 16:39 29 January 2016

Incoming residents of Lyon House, pictured in the background, joined Cllr James Murray, sixth left, and Cllr Richard Watts, second right, to officially open the 20 new council flats. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

Incoming residents of Lyon House, pictured in the background, joined Cllr James Murray, sixth left, and Cllr Richard Watts, second right, to officially open the 20 new council flats. Picture: Steve Bainbridge

2016 Steve Bainbridge Photography Ltd

MP Emily Thornberry has praised Islington Council for standing up to the housing crisis after it opened stylish affordable flats for over-55s.

The before picture: an old area housing office was demolished to make way for Islington Council's new Lyon House council homes off Caledonian Road. Picture: Samantha ButlerThe before picture: an old area housing office was demolished to make way for Islington Council's new Lyon House council homes off Caledonian Road. Picture: Samantha Butler

The authority knocked down old offices to build Lyon House: 20 council flats in Lyon Street, off Caledonian Road.

Priority was given to those already on the Bemerton Estate and looking to downsize. All the new homes will be let at social rent.

Mrs Thornberry, MP for Islington South and Finsbury, told the Gazette at today’s opening: “First of all, isn’t this fantastic? Providing these homes for people that are the right size – and they look brilliant, too.

“I think the housing crisis has got so bad that people shrug their shoulders and say there’s nothing that can be done. There’s a sense of hopelessness.

“What Islington Council has proved is that it doesn’t have to be this way, and there are more homes to come.

“If Islington can do it, then the government certainly can. I’m really proud of Islington Council today.”

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of the authority, said: “Opening new builds is one of the best things we like to do as a council.

“We believe in in proper, decent, affordable housing for local people, rather than being sold to multi-millionaire investors in the Far East,

“This area in particular is going through massive changes at the moment, and that’s really good. We have some of the best schools, best cultural facilities and big businesses down the road. It’s a great place to live in. But too many opportunities are denied to people from estates like this.

“We want kids to grow up and have opportunities. And we have a duty to provide quality housing to elderly people. It’s fundamental to making our borough a fairer place to live so that opportunites can be enjoyed by everyone, not just the fortunate few.”

Helen Edwards, who has lived on the Bemerton Estate since it was built 55 years ago, will be moving in to one of the flats next week.

She said: “I’m very excited. They are lovely flats. When this was first discussed a few years ago, I only put my name down as a joke. I never expected to get one.”

The council is committed to 2,000 new affordable homes up to 2019.


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