St Mary's Path Estate: ISHA pledges there will be no rent hikes or social homes lost in Upper Street regeneration plans
PUBLISHED: 17:23 26 March 2019
Neighbours on the St Mary's Path Estate are breathing a collective sigh of relief after 18 months fearing they could be forced from their homes by regeneration plans.
Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA) has pledged there will be no rent hikes or loss of social homes on the historic estate, off Upper Street. It’s a far cry from announcements in 2017 and 2018, which left residents fearing first that the estate would be flattened and then that they wouldn’t all be able to return there after building work.
ISHA’s new chief exec Ruth Davison met the estate’s Tenants’ and Residents’ Association (TRA) last night, and vowed for the first time that people living on the damp-riddled site wouldn’t be priced out.
Neighbours in 2017 mounted an impassioned campaign to save the estate after ISHA touted five options to fix its widespread damp problems, which included bulldozing the estate. An uproar ensured and ISHA discounted demolition in June 2018 – but said regeneration work would still mean removing some of the three- and four-bed family homes.
By contrast, Ms Davison today told the Gazette: “We have strongly said to people that as an organisation, community is really important to us.
“We are a community-based organisation grounded in the community who would not do anything to break up a community.”
Ms Davison told the Gazette she’s now made five “really strong commitments”, approved by ISHA’s board, to neighbours on the estate.
“All secure and assured tenants have a right to stay permanently on the estate,” she said. “And all secure tenants won’t have any change in their rent – whatever changes, people will pay the same.”
She added: “All secure tenants who move to a different size property on the estate will pay rent based on the existing [rates].
“And residents who currently under-occupy will be allowed to continue to under-occupy by one room.”
ISHA will hold a consultation with neighbours in May and June this year, where it will present people with a “range of options”, yet to be finalised, for repairs and improvements on the estate.
The chief exec will then present feedback from neighbours to an ISHA board meeting in either July or September.
She has invited the TRA to be attend this meeting to put forward its views on the estate’s future, and on how the consultation has been run.
The Gazette understands, if necessary, ISHA would then see if it needs planning permission to implement these agreed changes, and it would “possibly” start looking for a contractor in September.
A small percentage of homes on the estate are currently under assured shorthold tenancies, which Islington Council has used for temporary accommodation purposes.
Ms Davison says “concerns” were expressed by the TRA on behalf of these households, as ISHA can’t guarantee they’ll be allowed to stay permanently, which could break up friendships and support networks.
But Ms Davison has said she will fight for their right to remain in any future discussions with Islington Council.
The borough’s housing boss Cllr Diarmaid Ward told the Gazette: “As I understand Islington placed some people in temporary accommodation on the estate.
“At the moment we do not know how long those homes would be available for, and that’s still the case. It’s temporary accommodation.
“Obviously if and when those homes aren’t available any more we would have a duty to help to rehouse them.”
On the five commitments made by ISHA to neighbours, Cllr Ward it’s “really good news”.
He said Islington Council had presented ISHA with red lines, such as there being no net loss of social homes and a guaranteed right of return for secure tenants to return to the estate if major works were carried out.
Five properties on the estate are privately owned, and the impact of work on them is not yet known.