Housing association faces backlash over development plan for Kennaway Estate

Kennaway Estate in Church Street. Picture: Sam Gelder

Kennaway Estate in Church Street. Picture: Sam Gelder - Credit: Archant

A housing association planning to redevelop an estate overlooking Clissold Park in Stoke Newington faces a battle with angry neighbours.

Taverner House on the Kennaway Estate could be flattened. Picture: Sam Gelder

Taverner House on the Kennaway Estate could be flattened. Picture: Sam Gelder - Credit: Archant

Landlord Southern Housing Group sent letters to tenants and leaseholders on Church Street’s Kennaway Estate in June informing them of its intentions.

The developer said it was looking to build homes to ease London’s housing crisis, and had earmarked their estate.

Plans include demolishing Taverner House, a block of 12 flats, and replacing it with seven townhouses facing Carysfort Road.

They also could include building new blocks on what is now a car park and green space facing Church Street, with proposals to “improve” open spaces on the whole.

Kennaway Estate in Church Street. Picture: Sam Gelder

Kennaway Estate in Church Street. Picture: Sam Gelder - Credit: Archant

But people living on the estate say they don’t trust Southern, because it has neglected the estate since buying it from the council at the turn of the century.

They feel the landlord is simply looking to make money by building luxury homes in a desirable area and that solving the housing crisis is an afterthought.

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Southern has not said how much social housing, or even affordable housing, would be included in the scheme. It’s made no mention of how many homes will be built or the height of the proposed block at all.

Leaseholder Jack Daniels, 88, lives in Taverner House, and says he hasn’t had contact from Southern at all about possibly being forced out of his home of 30 years while work takes place.

“I’m not happy about it,” he told the Gazette outside his block. “There’s been no communication. At nearly 90 I don’t want a lot of moving about.”

Francesca Brown is chair of the Kennaway Estate Residents’ Association. She said: “This is about Southern Housing Group and about vulnerable people not being given a voice or cared for by a big business. People are frightened and angry.”

Matthew Adams is vice chair of the group. He added: “People almost sleepwalk to the cornershop or the chemist or the doctors. They live in a very caring, comforting environment.

“If they had to go to, say, Seven Sisters Road for five years, what will that do to them? They may have to get a cab or the bus to go to the doctors, they won’t know anyone.”

“There’s a lot of anger from people,” Francesca added. “At the residents’ meeting last week there was talk of social cleansing and the lack of consultation.”

Matthew said there are people on the estate who are vulnerable, or have learning difficulties and many who don’t speak English as the first language, and said Southern had made little effort to inform everyone of the plans.

Southern says it held two “consultation workshops” in July, attended by 55 households. There are 120 on the estate.

Matthew said leaflets were given out about an architects walkaround last week, but not to everyone.

“I’m very cynical about their intentions,” he added. “If they were a good landlord and fixed problems we’d trust them a bit more.”

Francesca pointed to the fact a lift in her block has been breaking down ever since it was installed, and only now is Southern planning to replace it.

“My neighbour has been stuck in it. My five-year-old daughter won’t walk in it anymore and we have people with prams on the fourth floor. It breaks all the time.”

In the latest literature circulated last week, Southern said: “At this stage we don’t have a number of how many new homes could be built or how high the new blocks will be.

“We have started discussing our ideas with Hackney Council and will look to have more information on the number of homes and height at our next workshop in autumn.”

Artist impressions are set to be displayed at the next meeting in the autumn, where chiefs will also discuss how feedback from the first workshops will shape the plans.

Southern did not respond to the Gazette’s request for comment.