CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Why we are backing the redevelopment of Highgate Newtown Community Centre

27 April, 2017

• WE write in response to the full page advertisement posted in the April 20 New Journal (Community says: “No to massive housing development on our community centre site!”).

Our decision to support the redevelopment of Highgate Newtown Community Centre has come after many years of consultations, of redesigns and of consideration of the alternatives. We have concluded that without this redevelopment, the community centre will have no long-term future.

That is a view shared by the community centre management and board as well as service providers there and many other members of the community. We cannot countenance a future without the community centre in Highgate Newtown and that is why we are fully behind the plans and will support them at the planning committee tonight (Thursday).

We believe this is a very good and well-designed scheme which will first and foremost provide a fit-for-purpose community centre providing free services to Highgate Newtown, the least well off part of the ward, as well as the surrounding area, well into the future.

There will be a new full-size sports hall, a sustainable building that’s easier to manage and with lower energy bills, new toilets, lockers and changing rooms, a new launderette and café, better access to the building, a vehicle-free, open courtyard, and a new pedestrian through-way to Croftdown Road. The proposals will provide new facilities for the Fresh Youth Academy.

We are pleased that the HNCC charitable trust will be running the centre after it is rebuilt and that there are arrangements being put in place for alternative accommodation to enable all services and classes to continue during the building work.

We think people understand that, with the council facing enormous cuts from central government, this is the only way to finance a brand new community centre, which is self-sustaining in a way not currently possible. The spiralling cost of maintaining the existing building is simply unaffordable. That’s why there will be new housing on the site to pay for the community centre. We hope that there could yet be social or affordable housing if there is extra money to do this.

We have listened to residents’ concerns and, as a result, the height and scale of the development has been reduced to bring it more in line with surrounding blocks. We know the concerns of residents in nearby streets about disruption from building works and we will do everything we can to make sure this is kept to a minimum.

We understand that the redevelopment of HNCC provokes emotion from interested parties. However we would urge groups to keep their arguments civil and avoid personal slurs. We have listened to the “Friends” group’s concerns and suggestions as well as those of residents and users who support the redevelopment and have come to our conclusion taking into account the wider community’s interests. We hope that we will be able to move forward together and make HNCC a long-term success.

CLLR OLIVER LEWIS
& CLLR SALLY GIMSON
Labour, Highgate ward

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