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'Gentrification': Boris Johnson and City North blasted for rough sleeping and anti-social behaviour under Stroud Green Bridge

PUBLISHED: 17:55 06 June 2019 | UPDATED: 14:50 07 June 2019

Boris Johnson. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA.

Boris Johnson. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Luxury flats in City North are being advertised as far afield as Hong Kong - and a housing campaigner has blamed the development for the rise in rough sleeping just yards away in Stroud Green Road.

The City North development in Finsbury Park has been criticised for its lack of affordable housing - just 13 per cent. Picture: Polly HancockThe City North development in Finsbury Park has been criticised for its lack of affordable housing - just 13 per cent. Picture: Polly Hancock

Tory leadership hopeful Boris Johnson is also culpable for the problems under the bridge because of his now discredited definition of "affordable housing", Streets Kitchen coordinator Jon Glackin has claimed.

City North will contain 308 luxury flats and just 47 "affordable" homes under Mr Johnson's definition (80 per cent of market rate). The development overshadows Finsbury Park station - and the vulnerable people rough sleeping nearby.

"It's all Boris Johnson's fault there's no social housing in City North," said Jon.

"An influx of affluent residents is on its way - they are advertising flats in China and Singapore to offshore investors. It's gentrification.

Jon Glackin, Streets Kitchen co-ordinator in the Hornsey Road Solidarity Shelter. Picture: Polly HancockJon Glackin, Streets Kitchen co-ordinator in the Hornsey Road Solidarity Shelter. Picture: Polly Hancock

"Walk down Seven Sisters Road - places are closing. Shopkeepers will tell you."

City North has a mix of flats and penthouses on offer with asking prices of up to £850,000, which upmarket estate agents like Savills are touting in far-flung international financial hubs.

"I'm blaming City North for all the problems we're facing [under Stroud Green Road bridge]," said Jon.

"They closed multiple public entrances and created the problems under the bridge that didn't exist before."

Jon Glackin, Streets Kitchen co-ordinator in front of the shower facility at the Hornsey Road warehouse site. Picture: Polly HancockJon Glackin, Streets Kitchen co-ordinator in front of the shower facility at the Hornsey Road warehouse site. Picture: Polly Hancock

Transport for London closed the entrance via Goodwin Street and Wells Terrace at the back of the station in 2016 to accommodate Telford Homes' £220million development.

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The Wells Terrace entrance was due to open in April but TfL delayed this until "later in 2019".

"Closing public entrances created the problems under the bridge that didn't exist before," said Jon.

"All the house-building has created an economic impact. A footpath for under the bridge, where some people are noticing there's a problem for the first time.

"Who gave City North the right to do that?"

Over the past two years, Islington Council has successfully rehoused 34 people sleeping under the bridge. But the Gazette understands dealers selling high strength drugs have been praying on some vulnerable people in this area, making it less likely people will access accommodation on offer.

A spokesperson for City North said: "[It] will deliver much needed new homes to buy or rent for people who want to live and work in London. Planning permission was granted in 2010 for 47 affordable homes for social rent and intermediate housing. They will accommodate 215 people and be available via Newlon Housing Association. These homes are part of a wider array of new amenities such as substantial new public realm, commercial space and a new step-free entrance to Finsbury Park station. All of these will benefit local residents and generate numerous new job opportunities.

"We have worked hard to keep disruption to a minimum during construction, and only one public entrance to the station has been temporarily closed. We have also engaged regularly with stakeholders in the community to keep them updated on the progress of the development and will continue to do so."

Islington's housing chief Cllr Diarmaid Ward said: "City North is definitely a missed opportunity to address the severe shortage of genuinely affordable homes in Islington. It was given planning permission under the previous Liberal Democrat administration and only 13 per cent of the homes will be deemed 'affordable'.

"Islington now has some of the toughest planning rules in the country. The current policy is for at least 50pc genuinely affordable [homes in each development], of which 70pc must be for social rent, in all new developments.

"If we are to be able to address the severe housing shortage in our borough private developers must do more to help.

"As a starting point, City North should consider following the example of the Hornsey Road Traders Association, who made a generous donation to the Glasshouse Solidarity Shelter when it was running." Streets Kitchen hopes to reopen its shelter later this year.

Mr Johnson has been approached for comment.

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