Plans to demolish huge Islington estate dramatically axed
PROPOSALS to demolish one of Islington’s biggest housing estates have been dramatically scrapped because of a lack of cash and protests from residents.
Not a single home on the Bemerton Estate, off Caledonian Road, Islington, will be bulldozed after Islington Council decided the plans did not make “financial sense”.
More than 250 people living on the estate responded to a consultation on possible demolition and a final decision was due to be made in June – but town hall chiefs revealed they had axed the scheme at a meeting with residents last week.
Councillor Paul Convery, Islington Council’s executive member for planning and regeneration, said: “Demolition was not going to deliver the extra affordable homes we’d hoped for. It would have required building another 350 homes for sale on the estate just to break even so financially it did not make sense.
“There was also increasingly varied opinion among residents about the worth of partial or whole demolition because most homes on the estate are in very good condition. The people living on the Bemerton like their flats and the vast majority of them are very relieved by our decision.”
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Instead of demolishing almost 800 homes, the Lyon Street area housing office building will be transformed into affordable housing once the current office moves to Highbury Corner in August. And “improvements” will be made to the estate’s open spaces, garages and pathways to try to combat the anti-social behaviour that has blighted the area for many years.
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Kane Zhang, secretary of the Bemerton Leaseholders Association, which was formed to fight demolition, said: “We are all breathing a huge sigh of relief that our homes wont be demolished, but we are worried that we will be hit with huge bills for the improvement works.
“They are talking about making the estate more friendly and sociable with better public spaces and pathways through from Caledonian Road to York Way - but how much will us leaseholders have to pay for that?”
Dr Brian Potter, chairman of the Islington Leaseholders Association, which helped the 250 leaseholders on the Bemerton fight the plans, said: “Once the opposition got organised the council backed down pretty quick, but I suspect the scheme has been postponed rather than scrapped. The council would have spent a fortune on the brochures, presentations and drawings and I doubt this proposal has disappeared for ever.”