Windsor Street block for people with learning disabilities given green light

Staff, supporters and service users group from Elfrida. Picture: Polly Hancock

Staff, supporters and service users group from Elfrida. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Controversial plans to build a supported living development on a car park in Islington were passed last night by councillors.

The Windsor Street application will see 12 garages demolished and replaced by an 11-bedroom block for people with learning disabilities.

Neighbours opposing the scheme and campaigners supporting it packed out the chamber at Islington town hall for the meeting, and representatives from both sides had their say.

One woman who lives nearby and works with people with learning disabilities said the proposed accommodation was “in no way supported living” and likened it to an institution because of the on-site communal facilities. “I’m not opposed to the building,” she said. “But this will create a new institution in the heart of Islington.”

Everyone else who opposed the scheme also insisted they weren’t opposed to the idea of supported living in their community, either, but argued this specific application wasn’t suitable.

One said: “This development affects our homes. We don’t object to a modest development on this street by the council or anyone else, or supported living. But this ugly three-storey building is complete overdevelopment. It will block light in my living room.”

She also complained that lights would be turned on and off “all night and day” opposite her bedroom, while another neighbour picked apart intricate details of the application, focusing on roof panels.

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Their concerns were put into perspective by supporters, who said the objectors didn’t understand how urgently the facility was needed. All 137 family carers asked about the scheme backed it.

Responding to claims it was like an “old institution”, one woman whose son is in a similar development in Leigh Road, Highbury, said: “The fact there will be communal facilities is vital. It’s great having your own flat but what communal spaces do – it’s not like your old traditional institutional homes.

“It enables those who want to, to get to know each other. I have witnessed this over the last three years at Leigh Road. Some tenants go to the pub together, others go on bus journeys together.”

Another woman said it would be vital for older family members who can’t travel outside of Islington, where 130 people with learning disabilities are now housed.