‘Bunhill is not just a building site’: Old Street neighbours tell developer they have ‘PTSD’ after decade of works
PUBLISHED: 14:41 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:45 17 January 2020
A decade of building work has left Old Street neighbours with “PTSD” – and they roasted developers over the latest debacle at a heated meeting on Wednesday, January 15.
St Luke's Estate tenants hauled in Crosstree Real Estate Partners LLP and its appointed contractor Knight Harwood for a grilling over the lagging project, warning: "Bunhill is not a building site".
Crosstree is already landlord to a number of Old Street sites, including Co-op, Argos and M&S, and is set to demolish and rebuild a "compound", adjacent to the recently vacated post office, to accommodate two new retail units.
Tenants' and Residents' Association chair Ray O'Halloran said: "Over the last 12 to 15 years we have seen nothing but development. The anger you see in here is not anger, this is PTSD. People are jumping. If I hear a bang or a crash or a scream I'm out there in the balcony seeing what's going on in your compound."
Neighbours fear they'll endure months of noise and dust pollution from the works, with some flats facing the development losing light and their view, and a "right of way" being built over.
Crosstree allegedly promised the compound would be demolished in June - this was delayed, in part, by the post office's closure.
Angry tenants said they have "no faith and trust" in the developer, and demanded it shelve plans to work on Saturdays.
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Islington's community development chief Cllr Una O'Halloran, who was attending as a tenant, said neighbours could "make a human chain" and "handcuff" themselves to things to hamper works if their demands are ignored, adding: "I have got people willing to fight this."
Matt Mason, a partner at Crosstree, said: "Let's look to rebuild that trust."
Pressed to promise no work will happen on Saturdays, he added: "I don't want to commit to it here and let the room down. I will do my darnest to not work on Saturday. I live in a house, I wouldn't want someone working on a Saturday either."
Neighbours said previous projects have unearthed rats, with vibrations sending hordes of ants into some flats. Crosstree promised a pest control team will be at hand.
People also raised concerns that extra vehicles travelling down Baldwin Street will create excess pollution for kids St Lukes Church of England Primary School - and could pose a danger to "partially sighted children" going to the Moorfields Eye Hospital, and the kids eye clinic in Peerless Street.
David Modran, the Knight Harwood project manager, said there will be a banksman on-site to direct deliveries.
Cllr Troy Gallagher (Lab, Bunhill), who chaired the meeting, said: "I hope you are getting a genuine sense of the level of anger on the estate. There was good will but it has been lost."
His fellow Bunhill Labour councillor Phil Graham added: "You have a lot of trust to earn back. A lot of these people have lived here most of their lives, and they have put up with a hell of a lot. Bunhill is renowned as a building site, we finance the council with our building site. [...] Everyone understands there is going to be disruption. But remember, people live here. Bunhill is not just a building site."