Residents get vote on estate overhaul plans
Concern over demolition and scale of proposals, as housing association insists area ‘needs urgent attention and investment’
26 February, 2021 — By Calum Fraser
Hundreds of homes could be built at the Barnsbury estate
A MAJOR overhaul of a housing estate could see almost 1,000 homes built – but the scale and demolition involved has caused unease among residents’ groups.
A consultation survey opened on Monday that revealed the dramatic scale of the plans for the Barnsbury estate, run by Newlon Housing, with residents having until Friday, March 19 to cast a vote on whether they want to give it the go-ahead.
The scheme is split into two sections, “New Barnsbury” and “Old Barnsbury”.
New Barnsbury consists of 17 housing blocks with 351 homes that were built in the 1950s and 1970s.
These would be bulldozed and rebuilt with up to 600 extra homes in new tower blocks – taking it to a total of more than 950 flats.
Samuel Uba, a member of the Barnsbury Residents’ Group, said: “Why are Newlon trying to push this through in the middle of a national lockdown?
“We will see a crammed environment which could lead to God knows how many problems such as an increase in crime.”
The Tribune has reported on complaints residents have made in the past about the poor maintenance of the Barnsbury Estate.
Newlon took over the maintenance of the buildings from the Barnsbury Estate Local Management Organisation (BELMO) in 2019.
The housing association say they will aim to provide 50 per cent affordable homes across the estate made up of a mix of social rent and “intermediate housing”.
Social rent means similar fees to council rates, while “intermediary” can mean “London Affordable Rents”, which is about 50 per cent of market rate, or the “London Living Rent”, which is around a third of market rates.
The consultation document does not state how high the new blocks could be but it does provide details of new parks and a community centre.
Work would begin on Adrian and Thurston House in 2022, with displaced residents given temporary accommodation, although the whole scheme would take more than a decade to complete, the developers believe.
Old Barnsbury, the 1930s brick buildings situated between Barnsbury Road and Charlotte Terrace, would not be demolished but undergo refurbishment work. New kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and paintwork are on offer.
Newlon maintain that Mr Uba is not a “current or recent” resident of the estate.
They also say that they have made it clear to residents that an “overall no vote” in the ballot will kill the project and mean “business as usual on the estate with maintenance continuing as it is”.
A spokesman for Newlon said: “We believe that the Barnsbury Estate needs urgent attention and investment and that our residents deserve new and refurbished homes which meet their needs.
“We have been undertaking extensive consultation and listening and speaking to residents about the proposed transformation since October 2019, and the plans are based on residents’ feedback.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to create an improved estate and deliver positive change for our residents.
“The decision is now in the hands of residents and a ‘yes’ vote in the ballot will mean we can move forward with delivering the exciting and much-needed transformation.”
He added: “We are aware of recent communications by the Barnsbury Residents’ Group, but unfortunately a lot of the information they have provided is inaccurate and not consistent with the offer we have made to residents.”