Estate demolition fears over damp
Reverend: 'They are not dealing with the future of an estate, they are dealing with the future of families and their lives'
24 November, 2017 — By Emily Finch
St Mary’s Path residents, from left: Pat Roberts, Maureen Roberts, Jenny Gordon, the Rev Simon Harvey, Sidney Rodwell, Nick Welsh and Jackie Hughes
DOZENS of residents worried that their estate may be demolished because of damp locked horns with their housing association’s chief executive at a packed Town Hall meeting on Wednesday.
Residents of St Mary’s Path estate in Upper Street first learned in a questionnaire released by Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA) in October that their flats may be razed and rebuilt. Other options included refurbishing the blocks with long-lasting damp proofing measures – an option the majority of residents prefer.
“I don’t feel positive about the meeting at all. We didn’t get any reassurances that the estate was going to stay,” said Maureen Roberts, 73, who has lived on the estate for more than 20 years.
“Everything seemed to point to the flats coming down. I’ve spent most of the next day thinking I should have asked that, said this,” she added.
There are currently 103 homes in the estate with residents paying on average 70 per cent below market value rents.
Reverend Simon Harvey, who has joined residents in their fight and whose St Mary’s Church sits in front of the estate, said: “They [ISHA] are considering a number of options and they have a genuinely open mind. There was a lot of pushing back from residents. I think it was a bit of a turning point for ISHA. First of all, they are not dealing with the future of an estate, they are dealing with the future of families and their lives where people have friends and are looked after by their neighbours.”
He said the chief executive of ISHA, Clare Thomson, apologised for calling the questionnaire a “consultation” when it was more a “conversation” because it was still in the preliminary stages. But Mr Harvey said the housing association based in Blackstock Road failed to promise residents at the meeting that their estate would not be razed.
He said Ms Thomson told the meeting the “conversation” stage will be extended until the end of January after it was planned to finish at the end of October. He also said they promised any new information will be passed to residents in paper form as elderly residents had been unable to access updates online.
ISHA’s chief executive Clare Thomson said: “We have started the process of talking to our customers about the future of this estate at an earlier stage than a normal formal consultation would usually commence. This is because we want to hear the views of people who live at St Mary’s Path estate about the options presented to ISHA for the future of this estate. This very early stage is about seeking the views of our customers about which option we should do further work on. It is not about choosing a final option. ISHA board is clear that it wants to speak to customers first so their views can inform the board’s decision about which option(s) to investigate further.”