Editor’s comment: Isha’s plans will break up a community

Residents of St Mary's Path Estate. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

Residents of St Mary's Path Estate. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Polly Hancock

Talk about a Pyrrhic victory.

Protect Our Estate Together (Poet) has fought an admirable battle against Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (Isha) to save the St Mary’s Path Estate from demolition.

Isha, which hasn’t responded to a single request for comment from the Gazette in the eight months since we broke the story, has responded by taking demolition off the table – but finding a way to break up the community regardless.

Half the homes on the estate are three- or four-bed. And all of those are now set to be be replaced by one- and two-bed flats, leaving dozens of families with nowhere to go.

We can only guess at Isha’s intentions, but it’s a bit reminiscent of making all the unionists at a company redundant so the remaining workforce is too weak to fight for its rights. Poet has proven itself quite the thorn in Isha’s side, thanks in no small part to the support of St Mary’s Church, and may well have held things up with its pesky independent damp survey and articulate questioning at public meetings.

There’s some fairly sinister detail buried in the generously named “customer conversation” document distributed last month. For instance: “If a customer rejects an offer of suitable alternative accommodation ISHA will institute court proceedings to obtain possession.” There’s nothing about where these homes might end up being, or who gets to decide what accommodation is deemed “suitable”. Details, again, that Isha might be able to clarify were it to return our calls.

Curiously, it’s also included a box for “general comments” and space to “tell us what is important to you”. I think the community has already made its views pretty clear, and so has Isha – so why it thinks anyone would bother is something of a mystery.