St Mary’s Path estate: Plenty of questions but few answers as tenants quiz landlord over demolition

The St Mary's Path Estate with Upper Street in the bottom left-hand corner. Picture: Google StreetVi

The St Mary's Path Estate with Upper Street in the bottom left-hand corner. Picture: Google StreetView - Credit: Archant

A housing association that has suggested demolishing a historic Islington estate because it has “too many” damp homes could not say how many were actually affected at a shambolic public meeting.

Residents of St Mary's Path Estate, from left: Patrick Rodwell, Jean Rodwell, Yadilene Vallejo, St M

Residents of St Mary's Path Estate, from left: Patrick Rodwell, Jean Rodwell, Yadilene Vallejo, St Mary's vicar Rev Simon Harvey, Sidney Rodwell, Jackie Hughes and Maureen Roberts. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

Tenants and leaseholders from the St Mary’s Path Estate were left blue in the face after making the short trip to the town hall for a sit down with bosses from Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA).

The landlord has drawn up five options to rid the estate of persistent damp problems, including demolishing it.

But many on the estate say the problems aren’t that bad, with only some homes affected. Forty-five people went to the meeting expecting clarity from ISHA’s top table about the extent of the damp – but left none the wiser.

Chief exec Clare Thomson said dealing with the issues on a case by case basis was not sustainable, but when quizzed on how many homes were actually affected, said simply: “We have had too many homes where we have had to do drastic work. We need to understand how many have damp.”

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She did acknowledge not every home had damp, though. and said the living environment also contributed – to the anger of tenants. She explained: “The kitchens are small, people have taken their doors off to better use the space and steam from boiling food creates condensation.”

The other burning (or boiling) issue was what each option actually meant for tenants, with little explanation so far from ISHA. Some of the 103 homes have been lived in by the same families since they were built 70 years ago and families fear they will be forced out.

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But few answers were provided on that either, except for ISHA confirming that it could not promise people who had to leave would be allowed to return to their home. One attendee summed up the mood by declaring: “It feels like we are going to leave this meeting without any clarity of what will happen to our future.”

A campaign group set up to fight demolition, Protect Our Estate Together (Poet), said in a statement afterwards: “Our main concerns are that the few answers given are very vague, to the point of being useless. No real guarantees were given to us about our future housing.”

As a result of the confusion, ISHA said it would now let people have their say until January.

The association has never responded to the Gazette’s requests for comment on St Mary’s Path, but at the meeting, Ms Thomson said: “The board were clear with me that we must talk to customers first before any detailed work on possible options is done. This is because we understand the people who live on the estate have ‘living knowledge” of your buildings and area so well, and the board wanted that feedback to inform on the decision of what options to look at further.

“We are investing a lot of money and want to eradicate the problems of damp on the estate together and forever. We don’t want to do a refurbishment and in ten years be faced with the same problems. ISHA cannot afford that.”

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