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Wilberforce Road campaigners take fight to developers over demolition of Victorian homes

PUBLISHED: 16:29 21 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:13 24 July 2017

Neighbours protest the demolition of a row of Victorian houses in Wilberforce Road on Sunday. Picture: Catherine Davison

Neighbours protest the demolition of a row of Victorian houses in Wilberforce Road on Sunday. Picture: Catherine Davison

Catherine Davison

Campaigners hoping to stop the demolition of Victorian homes in their Finsbury Park street have come out fighting after plans were officially submitted by developers.

The Wilberforce Road development would feature 140 rooms. Picture: QuatroThe Wilberforce Road development would feature 140 rooms. Picture: Quatro

Purely Investment wants to build a block of 146 homes of multiple occupancy (HMOs) on a stretch of Wilberforce Road, along with 16 new flats.

But the Save Wilberforce Campaign group don’t want the period houses to be knocked down and are planning to go door-to-door in order to secure as many letters of objection as possible.

“Our campaign is gathering momentum,” said Hugh White. “The facts we have mentioned before are still there. It is the destruction of part of an intact Victorian street.

“The area is under consideration to become a conservation area. The heritage statement in the application makes interesting reading but ignores the interaction with the street and concentrates on the houses themselves.

Hugh White examines the plans for the new development in Wilberforce Road. Picture: Catherine DavisonHugh White examines the plans for the new development in Wilberforce Road. Picture: Catherine Davison

“The building proposed is much taller than the present buildings and will dwarf the methodist church next to it. It will oppress the street and loom over it in a rather depressing fashion.”

The group has also discovered one of the houses is the birthplace of Dame Alicia Markova, widely regarded as the UK’s finest ballerinas.

They’ve also bought a notice board and stuck it in the garden of one campaigner, to let neighbours who may not have internet access know what is being planned.

Finsbury Park, and the road itself, already has many HMO properties, as well as hostels and hotels, and Hugh says it doesn’t need any more.

The noticeboard telling residents about the demolition of a row of Victorian houses on Wilberforce Road. Picture: Catherine DavisonThe noticeboard telling residents about the demolition of a row of Victorian houses on Wilberforce Road. Picture: Catherine Davison

“The area already has probably the very highest proportion of temporary accommodation in any part of Hackney,” he said, “between the hostels, the hotels and the HMOs small and large scattered all over the place.

“That accommodation is needed but the area already has too high a proportion of it. The people moving in are not going to stay long enough to become part of the community.”

The opposition will come as no shock to Purely Investment, who hosted a consultation session in May. The company described the feedback as “valuable” and said it could not keep the front of the houses, to protect the heritage, because it would “undermine the intentions of the plans”.


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