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Flats scheme could force families off estate

Residents warn that proposals to build on top of homes ‘would destroy the existing community’

08 June, 2018 — By Emily Finch

John Peat, Maureen Roberts and Pat Roberts are fighting to stay on the estate

FAMILIES living on an Islington estate may not be able to move back to their homes after their housing association releas­ed new plans which include building apartments on top of existing flats.

Residents at St Mary’s Path estate, off Upper Street, were plunged into confusion this month when Islington and Shoreditch Housing Ass­ociation (ISHA) released plans for 103 homes as part of a long-running “customer conversation”.

Under the proposals, presented to residents during drop-in sessions, those in three- or four-bedroom properties “may not be able to return to their home or remain on the estate”.

Those living in one- or two-bedroom homes “will be able to remain on the estate but they may not be able to return to their specific property”.

Maureen Roberts, 74, who has lived on the estate for more than 20 years, said: “Do they not want families on the estate? Where will the families go? They are being ruthless by keeping us in the dark and they completely ignored our requests.”

Most residents who submitted views on the future of their estate back in February requested that ISHA carry out cyclical maintenance and repair of their homes to prevent damp and disrepair.

The St Mary’s Path estate, off Upper Street

The least popular option was refurbishment and roof extensions, currently proposed by ISHA.

Plans released by ISHA in October last year said demolishing and rebuilding the entire estate to deal with damp was one option.

Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “Although ISHA seem to have dropped the idea of demolishing the estate, they will destroy the existing community that lives here by re-sizing homes and not letting us know if they will increase our rent.”

ISHA has also proposed an “enveloping scheme” – a form of cladding – to reduce damp in flats and improve heat loss.

The housing association is looking to build nine new apartments on top of four of the five blocks on the estate behind St Mary’s Church, according to documents given out during drop-in sessions with residents. Ms Roberts added: “What bothers me most is that we don’t know how many of the refurbished and new flats will be private and how many will be social.”

A small group of residents say they want to move out of their flats because they are damp or too small, but around 30 neighbours desperate to stay on the estate have formed a campaign group, Protect Our Estate Together.

When approached for comment by the Tribune, ISHA said it would not be “responding to wider press inquiries” and would communicate with residents through its own direct channels.

Information would be updated on its website, the housing association added.

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