Northwold Estate developers pressured into U-turn on demolition plans
PUBLISHED: 13:50 13 December 2016 | UPDATED: 16:32 13 December 2016
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Campaigners have been given hope in a battle to stop more than 100 homes on their estate being demolished.
The Guinness Partnership has been told to rethink its consultation on the development of the Northwold Estate after being accused of sidelining tenants and leaseholders.
As covered in the Gazette two weeks ago, many believed the landlord had already made up its mind to demolish part of the estate, despite still officially considering three options.
That claim has been backed by Green party politician Sian Berry, while Hackney mayor Philip Glanville has had words with the housing group. He has also helped produce the “good practice guide” launched today by Sadiq Khan, which aims to protect tenants and leaseholders in situations like the Northwold redevelopment.
Guinness has admitted partial demolition is its preferred option, but mounting pressure has led consultancy firm Newman Francis to recommend it looks again at the infill option – which the campaigners favour and could see between 40 and 60 new homes built.
The housing group has also agreed to the formation of an Independent Tenant and Leaseholder Adviser (ITLA), which will work with the estate during the discussions.
Save Northwold campaigner Emily Jost welcomed the news. She told the Gazette: “We’ve been saying for months that Guinness’s consultation process is totally inadequate.
“They have finally realised this and have cancelled their next two planned consultation events, delaying their progress. But whatever they come up with, we will continue to resist demolition of our homes.”
Partial demolition would see more than a quarter of the 480 homes bulldozed and replaced by taller blocks. Early estimates are that it would create 420 to 440 new homes, and protesters feel it would destroy the community. Campaigners lost faith in Guinness earlier this year when they found documents from prospective contractors already detailing work for the partial demolition.
Sian Berry met them last month and accused Guinness of going into the talks “with only one option in mind”.
Mayor Glanville has also written to Guinness after meeting with bosses. His letter, seen by the Gazette, says he wants residents to be central to the consultation, which should be done in an open and transparent way without people feeling “unduly pressured into a decision”.
A Guinness spokeswoman said no work would take place without the “clear support” of people on the estate. She said: “Both the ITLA and the infill option have been added to the consultation process at the request of people who live on Northwold. We will continue to consult in the new year for as long as necessary to allow all residents’ views to be heard.”