Gazette letters: Walking in Islington, no to night shelter and Highbury Corner

The crossing of Palmer Place and Holloway Road has not pedestrian lights.

The crossing of Palmer Place and Holloway Road has not pedestrian lights. - Credit: Archant

It is good to see Islington Labour councillors have realised that walking is good for our health (“Health boss says: Get walking!”, Gazette letters), writes Anita Frizzarin, Wedmore Gardens, Tufnell Park.

After at least three decades as Labour councillor, Janet Burgess has seen the light. She’ll be advising us to take up cycling next (just joking).

But how are we meant to cross the Holloway Road end of Palmer Place, off the bottom of Holloway Road in front of Drayton Park?

There is no way of crossing that stretch without risking being run over by some big metal box moving at speed.

How anyone on foot, particularly the non-ideal pedestrian, ie people like me now I am 60, is meant to manage it I don’t know (I normally cycle it, since you ask, fast before left-turning vehicles at the traffic light get moving).

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Yet people of all ages and physical ability, including children and those with shopping bags, run across that stretch every day, because shops, bus stops and homes are all around it.

So now we know walking is good, when at Palmer Place, are we intended to carry on dodging the fast-moving metal boxes that never stop coming?

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That would satisfy the need for “brisk” walking as recommended.

Or are we meant to go round in circles looking for a legitimate crossing as part of the latest Labour initiative to get us fit?

And which of the two forms of sport does Cllr Janet Burgess practise herself?

I am writing in response to last week’s article in the Gazette entitled “‘Open to everyone’: Cally homeless charity Shelter from the Storm announces Upper Holloway move plans”, wherein Shelter from the Storm (SFTS) talk of their proposed plans to turn our local shop into a night shelter for the homeless, writes an Archway resident, full name and address supplied.

In the article SFTS says: “There is possibly going to be a little bit of anxiety among local people, but we would be very keen to talk to them if that’s the case.” If SFTS is so keen to talk to us, why has there been no wider consultation or public meeting? There is more than a “little bit of anxiety” amongst residents – there is a lot.

The first we heard of the proposal was when consultation letters for the proposed “change of use” dropped through our doors just over two weeks ago when the shop had been empty for six weeks.

Letters were only sent to a handful of the closest properties, presumably the minimum required by planning law.

We are a close, friendly neighbourhood and word soon spread among residents, many of whom are extremely upset they have not been included in the consultation process.

Our concerns are not mere “nimbyism” nor are they a judgement on the character of the guests themselves. We recognise there is a need for homeless shelters but this is totally the wrong type of area to place one in.

While accepting SFTS has zero tolerance of any drink or drugs, it has no control over what happens to guests outside. Some guests may be vulnerable and could be targeted by drug-dealers.

The guests’ presence in large numbers arriving and leaving will attract attention and SFTS’s assurances the location will remain secret is impossible to achieve. Up to 42 homeless guests a night arriving (the equivalent of almost four football teams!) cannot be hidden.

In addition, the proposed outdoor smoking area would be open from 6pm to midnight (according to SFTS plans) and would have no restriction on numbers from 6pm to 9.30pm and 7am to 8am.

The noise and smoke pollution from this area is another aspect of the proposal residents strongly object to and those on the walkway directly above will have unacceptable levels of noise and smoke.

Sound bounces around between the blocks and gets amplified. Surprisingly this is not mentioned in SFTS’s acoustic assessment.

The proposed new night entrance and smoking area would cause noise pollution and sleep disturbance to the bedrooms both above and facing the proposed development.

Another major concern is that there is a school less than 100 yards from the proposed shelter entrance/exit and children use that route to walk unaccompanied to school each morning at the very time the guests will be leaving.

This is inappropriate and raises possible safeguarding issues.

Shelter from the Storm say this is a “lovely location” and they want to be “part of the community” yet have made no effort whatsoever to talk to us as a group despite the fact we are those most likely to be affected if the proposal goes ahead.

Men from yet another firm were contemplating the unfinished work outside Highbury station this morning,writes Tim Sayer MBE, Battledean Road, Highbury.

They told me they weren’t quite sure why they were there and agreed TfL was a shambles. One said TfL changed its mind every day. I shudder to think this could be the level of competence we might see if the roundabout works go ahead!

•[Editor’s note: We apologise for accidentally promoting Tim to OBE in the Gazette’s letters page on June 13.]

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