Council approves plans for public realm improvements and new homes on Hathersage and Besant

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.

 

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Latest on estate improvement plans

The council is still developing plans to build new homes on the sunken playground in front of Beasant Court

As part of the plans the TRA has been lobbying the council for improvements to Hathersage Court, particularly to the front of the estate as it faces onto Newington Green, with new landscaping and a new area for the bins.

These plans will greatly improve the appearance of the estate for residents.

We are awaiting further feedback from the council and will update again soon.

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TRA General Meeting – Thursday 9th February, 6:30pm

There will be a Bi-Annual General meeting of the TRA taking place on Thursday 9th February at 6:30pm in the Midlmay Community Centre, Mayville Estate, Mildmay Road. All welcome!!

The main points on the agenda are:

  • Hathersage and Besant estate re-developments
  • Elections of new officers
  • Ratification of the Constitution
  • Report back from gardening subcommittee

Please come and share your views on the council’s plans to redevelop the estate, including building new homes, redesigning the front (Newington Green side) of Hathersage Court and potentially creating a commercial development. We also need to fill the following positions on the committee: Chair, Treasurer, Secretary. The workload is not onerous (essentially limited to helping organise a few meetings a year) and is accessible to anyone who lives on the estate.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

 

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Open meeting – Hathersage and Besant TRA

The council is planning to knock down little Besant and build new homes on the estate, covering the children’s playground, football court and rear car park. The plans mean:

  • FIVE new buildings will be built – two of the buildings will be SEVEN stories tall, ruining residents views.
  • Residents will lose the car parking between Hathersage and Besant.
  • The council wants to create a public square and a public pathway through the estate.
  • Hathersage Court and big Besant will have NO improvements at all.

There will be a public meeting of the TRA held to discuss further action:

WHEN: Thursday, 16th June at 7pm

WHERE: Mildmay Community Centre, Mayville Estate, Mildmay Road.

We look forward to seeing you all there.

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Hathersage and Besant Court Estate: tenants response to proposed developments

Following the meeting last autumn, Islington Council have now revised their proposals for redeveloping the estate, which they presented to tenants and residents during a drop-in consultation held at the Mildmay Club at the beginning of May. As a follow-up to this, the Tenants and Residents Association organised a meeting for people living on both Besant Court and Hathersage Court to come together and discuss what they thought to present a unified response to the councils’ proposals.

First, what is proposed? The sunken playground was out of commission for a long time due to an apparent threat from the roots of the trees towards the wall of the football pitch. This resulted in the entire playground being shut, and part of the car park fenced off. Over the last year, the TRA has got the playground re-opened (although the football pitch is still out of bounds), and the fences have been pushed back by local people and the space being used. The council is now proposing that they build new developments in the playground/football pitch and car park areas – and also that they demolish little Besant and replace that with several new blocks.

Architect's model of Hathersage and Besant Court Estate following new build developments.

Architect’s model of Hathersage and Besant Court Estate following new build developments.

The attached photograph shows a model of how the proposed new buildings would fit into the estate grounds. The tallest new buildings (all in blue) are 7 storeys high – the same height as Hathersage Court, and substantially taller than little Besant. The shortest are 3 or 4 storeys. The plan also calls for the Mildmay Road exit to be reopened – thus allowing for the estate to be crossed from one side to the other.

The meeting was held in the Mildmay Club on Thursday, 26th May and was extremely well attended by approximately thirty residents of both Besant and Hathersage Courts. There was unanimous agreement on several points:

  1. The residents all objected to the councils proposals in their present format. A list of perceived problems was constructed.
  2. The residents agreed that the TRA should represent residents of both Hathersage and Besant Courts.
  3. The Committee were requested to write to Islington Council objecting to the development in its current form and requesting improved communication with and involvement of residents.
  4. Residents were encouraged to individually contact the council and give feedback on the proposals by the deadline of Friday, 24th June.

 

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Hathersage and Besant Court Estate improvements – meeting report

The Tenants and Residents Association held a meeting on Tuesday 6th October which was extremely well attended by residents of the combined Hathersage and Besant Court estate. The primary objective of the meeting was to discuss potential improvements to the Estate, including the possibility of new-build housing. This was introduced in a presentation by Rosemarie Jenkins, Housing Development Project Manager from Islington Housing and Adult Social Services department. The meeting was also attended by Councillors Joe Calouri and Jenny Kay. Full minutes from the meeting will be posted online shortly.

In the meantime, the documents that were provided by Rosemarie Jenkins at the meeting are attached to this post:

Note: further updates from the Council are expected by January 2016, and not November 2015 (as indicated in the September briefing).

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FOI request to Islington Council

A Freedom Of Information (FOI) request was made to Islington Council in August 2015 for the following:

Any information – whether current or historic – held by Islington council pertaining to plans for redevelopment/new build development on Hathersage Court and/or Besant Court in Mildmay/Newington Green. This should include any reports, plans, feasibility studies, letters, meeting minutes – or any other information held by the council that pertains to the potential redevelopment/new build development on Hathersage Court and/or Besant Court.
Please note: This should include any information about proposals for redevelopment/new build development on Hathersage Court and/or Besant Court that were developed by Homes for Islington.
The time period for this request is for information held by the council dating from January 1 2010 to the present (the date the request is processed by the council).

The council responded with the following document:

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Estate improvements

Following the very successful summer barbeque that we held in mid-August, the TRA has continued to make progress in several issues related to improving the Estate. Recent work has included:

  • Cycle lockers have been installed at the front of the estate and will be available for residents. We are currently waiting to hear back from the council about how keys can be obtained.
  • The central accessway from the front of Hathersage Court to the ground floor flats at the rear of the Estate has now been installed and will soon be made available for those residents.
  • On the quarterly walk-round, we discussed how the sunken playground area can be brought back into use (and is already partly being used).

Please contact us if you have any other issues that you would like us to raise or try to address.

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Summer garden party and Biannual General Meeting

We are excited to announce that there will be a garden party open to all residents of Hathersage Court taking place on Sunday, 17th August from 12 o’clock onwards in the community garden.

There will be an opportunity for residents to learn about the community garden, including how to plant new plants and care for the ones that are already growing. There will be a special gardening/planting session with additional input from professional gardeners. Children are especially welcome to join in.

Additionally, residents will have the opportunity to enjoy a BBQ (weather-permitting!) with free food and drink for all. We will also have some additional shelter in case it isn’t so sunny.

Finally, it is also time for our biannual general meeting – yes, your TRA has now been in existence for two years in its current format! Come along to learn more about the TRA, share your ideas about improving the estate, and get more involved in your local community!

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, August 17th in the afternoon!

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TRA update

Community Garden:

Works are now underway on the community garden area. The first phase of works, which involves the creation of two raised beds; planting lavender beds; cherry blossoms, magnolia and apple trees should be completed by April. The second phase, involving a wild rose garden; a wild flower meadow as well as woodland planting and a pergola over the seating area is scheduled to begin in the Spring.

Estate improvements:

The TRA has also recently been successful in securing funding for further estate improvements, namely:

  • Opening access at the bottom of the building for residents on the ground floor rear flats, with a new CCTV camera to be installed to improve security
  • Bicycle storage lockers: secure enclosed lockers for bicycle storage to be installed on the ground floor of the estate, in the concrete area facing Newington Green Road.

Please watch out for further details on these projects in the coming weeks.

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