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Editor’s comment: Neighbours might not like Hathersage Court plans, but compromise is necessary in a housing crisis

PUBLISHED: 15:00 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:49 22 November 2018

Hathersage Court in Newington Green. Picture: Chris Wood

Hathersage Court in Newington Green. Picture: Chris Wood

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Back in 2016, we reported on plans to flatten one of the blocks at Besant Court.

ANeighbours of Hathersage Court in Newington Green are concerned the development might set a precedent. Picture: CHRIS WOODANeighbours of Hathersage Court in Newington Green are concerned the development might set a precedent. Picture: CHRIS WOOD

Two and a half years on, those plans have seemingly been shelved in favour of infill. That means building new homes within the existing estate footprint rather than demolishing and rebuilding, which we know displaces communities – sometimes permanently, even if people are offered the chance to return once the new homes are up.

Islington needs a lot of homes: there are more than 18,000 households on the borough’s waiting list. That doesn’t mean we must accept absolutely any development so long as it contains housing, but it does set the bar for compromise pretty high.

The plan for Hathersage Court includes 21 new council homes, 20 for private sale and three for shared ownership. That’s more than 50 per cent that would be deemed “genuinely affordable” which takes the development very much into “good” territory.

But Islington isn’t building private homes just to block out the sun: it needs them to pay for the council flats. It doesn’t have to be this way, and hopefully the much-vaunted lifting of the borrowing cap will mean councils like ours can build social homes without having to flood London with luxury apartments to pay for them (though they still aren’t allowed to borrow against future rental receipts, or spend receipts from Right to Buy without negotiating miles of red tape).

For the moment, though, every one of these new homes either houses the needy or pays for others to do so.

Islington certainly should make schemes like this as palatable as possible for neighbours, because heritage and the environment are important, too.

But there comes a point where people who have stable homes of their own must accept that we do not live in a perfect world.


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