On December 10 Islington council’s planning committee approved the council’s plans to build a modest number of new homes in the area between Hathersage Court and Besant Courts (on the site of the disused football court and sunken playground) behind Besant Court and on the corner of Mildmay Park and Newington Green (in place of the temporary prefab currently occupied by the dentist), along with extensive improvements to the public realm on both estates.
Following a long process of consultation, with several iterations of the plans with a number of changes and adaptations, The Hathersage Court TRA gave its conditional support for the planning application.
That planning application has now been approved unanimously by the council’s planning committee.
A shortened version of the TRA’s response to the council’s plans is posted below. The full version can be found on the council website under:
Planning application P2018/1970/FUL
Additional Housing and Works to Hathersage & Besant Estates, Newington Green
Throughout the lengthy process of consultation and engagement with that the council has undertaken with the community on the estates, the TRA has maintained a consistent position that while it is not opposed to redevelopment per se, the development proposed must be appropriate to the site.
For the TRA, this has meant that the quality, massing and scale of the proposed buildings must fit the context and – most importantly – that the council adopt an estate-wide ‘holistic’ approach to the redevelopment, treating the two estates as a whole and bringing forward plans to improve the whole of the estates, including existing buildings.
For the TRA this is an imperative that must be met.
After a number of iterations of the development plans over several years, some of which were inappropriate, the TRA has been impressed with how the council has listened and adapted its plans in response to residents’ feedback and this is to be commended.
We are now of the view that the current proposals, overall, are on balance positive, and if realised in the form represented in the planning application could become a very good example of sensitive estate renewal/infill.
The TRA therefore supports the plans.
In particular, residents were very pleased that overall development now includes block improvements to Hathersage Court and a softening of the landscape at the front of the block, facing onto Newington Green.
The proposals to improve the appearance of the front of the estate are very welcome, particularly the plans for a new entrance and bin storage area and a new building on the Newington Green Road corner for bike storage.
The landscaping plans are also welcome – rationalising the car parking and adding new landscaping and planting, including a hedge will dramatically improve the front of the block.
We also view the plans to improve the appearance of the block itself favourably – removing the blue steel security fencing from the block and other clutter on the building, as well as repainting the walls on the walkways and the lift shaft running up the middle of the building in a light grey, as presented to residents in the final consultation, will be a big improvement.
We would impress upon the council the importance of these improvements being delivered as part of the overall development.
Overall, we support the proposals and after waiting for more than 6 years for the plans to get to this stage we are keen for the council to now press ahead.
In terms of the proposed development, the designs have been developed and improved in consultation with residents and have reached a point where they have struck a very good balance between the many competing priorities, and, importantly, will deliver much needed new homes.
We are very supportive of the landscape improvements as well as the proposed play areas, which are very positive and well designed. We want to see these delivered as set out in the plans.
The length of time it has taken to bring forward these plans has meant that in the meantime, the sunken playground area and football court between
Hathersage and Besant Courts have remained in disrepair and disuse.
Back in 2010 the TRA was seeking support from the council to bring these play areas back into use, but we were told that funding was not available and that the council was instead looking to develop homes on the area.
While that process has taken place the football courts have remained out of bounds and the play area has been poorly maintained and is unfortunately underused as a result. Should the planned development, with the new proposed play areas, be delayed further this situation will continue. This is unacceptable and in that case we will call on the council to invest in the playground and football courts.
The TRA notes opposition to the plans from the Newington Green Action Group, particularly to Block K, which they say does not conform to the Newington Green Conservation Area Statement.
The TRA disagrees with this objection. Block K is a 4-5 storey building that will stand next to Hathersage Court which is 6/7 storeys. In our view Block K provides a visual link between the architecture of Hathersage Court and the more traditional terrace homes on Mildmay Park. The design also provides for a visual integration of the two buildings.
Commercial uses on the ground floor are appropriate, and directly replace the existing commercial uses.
As a point of principle, the TRA fundamentally disagrees with a key element of the Newington Green Conservation Area Statement, which highlights Hathersage Court as a ‘negative feature’. In our view this is an expression of prejudice against post war architecture, in favour of the earlier forms of traditional architecture (Victorian, Georgian etc).
While The Newington Green Action Group may wish Hathersage Court away, preferring it knocked down and replaced with terraces designed in a historical style, the fact is that this would lead to a significant lose of housing –and in particular social housing.
Hathersage Court was built in the 1960s and whatever your subjective view on the merits of it as a piece of architecture, it is now part of Newington Green’s history and is home to a mixed community.
Block K provides for a contemporary link between two established buildings within the conservation area – Hathersage Court and the terraces on Mildmay Park. It is in keeping with the scale of Hathersage Court (indeed it is smaller) and is also in keeping with the heights of other buildings around Newington Green, including the China Inland Mission and the apartment block at the intersection of Green Lanes, Newington Green and Albion Road (Holland House, 11 Albion Road).
For these reasons we support the plans for what has been a carefully put together development plan that will, on the whole, have a hugely positive impact on Hathersage and Besant Courts and allows for the delivery of a significant number of new homes.