Letter: Saving green spaces from development

Campaign group Save The Trees, whose members have fought against felling the trees at Dixon Clark Co

Campaign group Save The Trees at Dixon Clark Court before the trees were felled - Credit: Save The Trees

Green spaces continue to be blighted by housing

Meg Howarth, Ellington Street, Islington, writes:

Islington Council isn’t the only land-owner planning to build on our borough’s limited green spaces (Green space must be safeguarded, April 22).

The City of London has plans for more housing on its York Way estate. The current proposals - for this and other council estates where planning applications for ‘infill’ housing have yet to be submitted - can be seen in the following link, which includes useful outline drawings of each of the sites islington.gov.uk/~/media/sharepoint-lists/public-records/Planningandbuildingcontrol/Publicity/Publicconsultation/20202021/20210317SiteAllocationsscheduleofmodifications.pdf

Outside of the City, Islington has the least green space per head of population in London, where it’s the most densely populated of the 32 boroughs as well as local authority in the UK. Without acknowledging the irony, our greener neighbour is planning to help reduce local green space even further. 

Estate green spaces are also public-realm health and environmental amenities, demonstrably so in the case of Dixon Clark Court where the ‘little forest’ of mature trees provided a spot of nature and shade for the foot-fall along adjacent Canonbury Road. This was particularly so for children on their way to the primary school. Islington Council has already granted permission to build private housing there - the council homes will be sited on the residents’ former beautiful rear garden. This will be concreted over. Dixon Clark Court is just one among a total of 18 other local estates where the town hall is planning to build. New leader, Ms Comer-Schwartz, expressed her full support for this new-build programme during her recent acceptance speech at the town hall.

The catalyst for the densification of our borough was the mayor of London’s 2018 directive that 10,000 affordable homes should be under construction across the city by 2022 - london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/building_council_homes_for_londoners_16_may.pdf . As Sadiq Khan’s then-deputy mayor for Housing and resident of the Barnsbury Estate, Islington’s previous housing boss, James Murray, would have been at the heart of these proposals. Now MP for Ealing North, Mr Murray’s former landlord, Newlon Housing, is proposing demolition of the post-war part of the estate and the building of an additional 600 new homes. One estimate suggests that only 125 of these will be ‘affordable’. What’s going on? Perhaps Mr Murray can advise.

City of London Corporation sign

City of London Corporation sign - Credit: Meg Howarth

Back to the City of London Corporation: the following was spotted by a walker on the north Downs last weekend: ‘In response to public concern at the loss of the commons and parks to development in the nineteenth century’ land ‘was bought to protect…open spaces…from development’. As landlord of the York Way Estate, the Corporation’s current bosses clearly have something to learn. 

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