Northwold Estate: Green light for new homes ends housing campaigners’ battle over redevelopment
- Credit: Nigel Sutton
A three-year battle between a housing association and campaigners over the redevelopment of an Upper Clapton estate ended this week with the approval of 73 new homes.
The Guinness Partnership's plans for the Northwold Estate meet the council's 50 per cent affordable housing policy - 22 will be social rent and 14 will be shared ownership - and also include a new community centre.
The decision by the planning sub-committee brings confirmation that none of the 580 homes will be demolished, as initially proposed, with building taking place around existing blocks.
The result has been welcomed by some, including the local Cazenove councillors who pressured Guinness into including social housing in their plans.
But it was bittersweet for campaign group Save Northwold, which launched in 2016 to fight proposals by Guinness to flatten more than 100 homes.
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Though they favoured infill at the time, they say Guinness has neglected the estate and shouldn't be building anything until it has dealt with existing issues such as damp homes and poor estate lighting. They also criticised the loss of green space and light, and handed in a 37-signature petition against the development.
Cazenove councillors have written to tenants and leaseholders saying they want to hold a residents' meeting with Guinness to discuss their other concerns.
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The letter says: "We know this has been a long process and want to thank everyone who fought against large-scale demolition and opted for an infill option that would better suit the community."
It adds: "The Save Northwold campaign showed us just how effective community organising can be and we will continue to champion residents' concerns."
The Save Northwold campaign, reported extensively by the Gazette, began when Guinness said the demand for new housing meant it needed to redevelop the 1930s estate and build more "affordable" homes. Save Northwold argued most of the estate was in good condition and, though they acknowledged development was inevitable, said homes did not need to be bulldozed.
Three options were outlined but Guinness admitted partial demolition was its preferred choice after Save Northwold found documents from prospective contractors detailing work of that nature.
Pressure from the campaigners, as well as Hackney mayor Phil Glanville and local councillors, led Guinness to eventually scrap any talk of demolition early last year.
When the new plans did arrive, they contained no affordable housing at all until campaigners and Cazenove ward councillors intervened.