Hathersage Court: ‘Class warfare’ breaks out at planning meeting over 45 new homes on estate
- Credit: Archant
A beleaguered chair struggled to control an unruly public gallery as “class warfare” broke out at a planning committee meeting last night.
Councillors unanimously approved plans to create 45 homes in eight new blocks around Hathersage Court and Besant Court, in Newington Green, consisting of 21 council flats, 21 private properties and three units for shared ownership.
During consultation 39 objections were received, along with a petition sporting 113 signatures, which argued one of the blocks will overshadow houses in Mildmay Park and damage the Newington Green conservation area.
But no one living on either block objected and neither did Historic England.
A design officer noted the scheme would cause “less than substantial harm” to the conservation area, which was “outweighed by the benefits of improved open space and the provision of new housing.”
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Despite this, there was a vocal contingent of neighbours who vociferously opposed the plans, with nine haggling to speaking when there was only time for three.
The incessant interruptions became so bad stand-in chair Cllr Angela Picknell (Lab, St Mary’s) made multiple threats to kick out the public – to which one objector cried: “I thought this was democracy”.
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The plans would see the Angel Chiropody & Podiatry and the adjacent Kindandental dentists demolished. But Islington’s housing department “does not want to lose them” and is “considering options that would allow them to stay on site after development.”
And Rosamarie Jenkins, a council housing development manager, said they had been offered a “considerable long lease” in the new building.
But Nagina Kausar-Zaman, the chiropodist, said: “I oppose this motion because I think [the need for] health care for diabetes is far greater than the need for housing at the moment.”
Allister Hayman, chair of the Hathersage Court Tenant and Residents’ Associations, said the objections amounted to “the worst kind of middle class NIMBYism”, at which they was a collective intake of breath and one woman shouted: “How dare you”.
Some neighbours also objected to 30 of the sites’ 63 trees being cut down. The council will replant them but estimates they’ll take 10 years to grow back.
The plans will also remove a sunken ball court that has become a “hot spot for antisocial behaviour” due to its poor visibility from the street.
Speaking after the event, Cllr Jenny Kay, secretary of the Newington Green Action Group told the Gazette: “I’m delighted the council will now be able to get on with building these much needed 21 new council homes [...]
“I am especially pleased that this project will see a huge investment in play space and recreation space on an estate that currently has almost no usable green space, as well as delivering over £200,000 of investment the existing block [...]
“These new homes are a significant step forwards in tackling the housing crisis facing our community and to making Newington Green an even greener and more beautiful place to live.”