Changing face of city sparks new homes fears

‘We don’t need small flats in Archway development – just build social housing’

Friday, 9th April 2021 — By Helen Chapman

An artist impression of the Vorley Road development Credit Islington Council

An artist’s impression of the proposed scheme. Image: Islington Council

CAMPAIGNERS fear plans for new homes in Archway will be abandoned amid concerns about the changing nature of the housing market in London.

Trends show families are moving out of the city to where they can afford more space for less money. Since the pandemic it is said the population in the capital has decreased by 10 per cent.

A consultation closed in January on the scheme to build 72 new homes in Vorley Road, including 36 social dwellings. The development also includes a new library and a GP surgery.

But Kate Calvert from the Better Archway Forum said: “There is an oversupply of small flats which are not selling or at least not at the prices that people were expecting. This really doesn’t look like a good idea, particularly as you can build all the social housing units for half the cost.

“They are hoping that the London housing market is going to hold up and it really is not clear that it is going to.”

Islington Council owns the land in Vorley Road where the development is planned.

Ms Calvert said: “Everybody says there are not enough social housing units and we need more. What there is not a need for are small flats in central London. Why not just build the social housing and not run this financial risk?”

Architect Adrian Betham said: “There are other ways of protecting the social housing element of it. If the site was gifted to an almshouse trust or charity they could make it as broad as they like and do it totally for social housing.

“Islington planning policy points toward the Archway development framework and says there is no place for tall buildings except in the south of the borough.

“In Vorley Road there is potential for an elegantly designed point block but that would mean one block, not three.”

An Islington Council spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering decent and genuinely affordable homes for all, and the proposals at Vorley Road will see 36 desperately needed new council homes built for local residents currently living in overcrowded and unsuitable conditions.

“Of the 36 new council homes we intend to build here, 26 will be two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes for families.

“All of the homes will benefit from their own private balconies and the majority exceed our guidelines for living space.

“Among them are seven homes specifically designed for wheelchair access.”

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