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Archway Campus homes plans under fire

Campus development with 20-storey tower criticised for failing to address housing problems

14 July, 2017 — By Koos Couvée

Artist’s impression of the 20-storey tower

RESIDENTS have slammed a developer’s plans for the Archway medical campus site which will see more than 300 homes built, including a massive 20-storey tower.

Peabody Enterprises, a private company linked to housing association Peabody, revealed its long-awaited design proposals for the 3.5 acre “NHS island” site on Highgate Hill at the weekend.

It is the third consultation on the scheme, which has been amended several times.

The development has come under fire from neighbours concerned about density and the height of the tower, which will loom over the new Archway square on the southern tip of the plot.

Bill Gaver, 57, whose Lidyard Road home backs onto the site, is concerned that the buildings on the northern part of the site would be just yards from his back garden.

“They’re not going to make it work without a lot of frustration from neighbours unless they reduce the density at the site,” he said. “We are not being Nimbys about this. Getting more affordable housing in this area is justified but it should not be prioritised over the needs of existing residents.”

Kate Calvert, of Better Archway Forum, said: “It’s not addressing housing problems. It’s poor-quality housing and it’s coming at the expense of the area.

“They should have had a proper consultation. It’s all been decided in closed rooms and that’s not a good way to get a good result. It’s a shame they haven’t engaged. I think they still haven’t got the scheme right.”

Peabody Housing Association bought the Archway campus from Middlesex University and University College London Hospital in a £23m deal three years ago.

At the time, Town Hall chiefs welcomed the sale but warned that they would insist on half of the new homes being classed as affordable. Council policy is to demand 70 per cent of those to be social rented homes.

The developer wants to build 308 new homes, of which 40 per cent will be “affordable housing”. Peabody said the exact breakdown of the affordable element had not been finalised but the scheme will include a “significant amount” of social rented housing.

Ms Calvert questioned why the developer appeared confident to go ahead with a 40 per cent scheme.

“Peabody bought it knowing it was a conservation area and that Islington wanted 50 per cent affordable housing,” she added. “They were fully aware of the limitations of the site.”

Peabody wants to include a library and primary medical care facilities at the bottom of the tower and is looking into the possibility of providing a centre for training, employment, volunteering and apprenticeship support.

It plans to apply for planning permission in the autumn. If granted, building work will start next year and the new homes would be completed in 2021.

Peabody development manager Gilly Tobin said: “Once we have had a chance to review all the comments on the scheme, we will look to finalise our plans. We are confident that our final scheme will be positive for Archway and provide a significant amount of new affordable housing for Islington.”

Peabody, the capital’s oldest housing association, delivered an extra £50million in profits last year through the sale of private homes. It merged with Family Mosaic in a deal giving them combined assets worth £6bn last year.

Residents can comment on the proposal until August 7.

Infirmary the Victorians built

THE Holborn Union Infirmary, right, as the building on the site was originally known, opened in 1879. Designed by Henry Saxon Snell and locally listed, it became part of Whittington Hospital in 1948, the year the NHS was founded. Known as the Archway Wing, it was sold 50 years later to Middlesex University and UCL, which has run postgraduate training at its medical school there. Just north of the revamped Archway square, it was declared surplus to requirements in 2013.

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