Besant and Hathersage Court
London Borough of Islington
45 new homes
Planning authority
London Borough of Islington

Planning consent has been secured by HTA Planning for an estate improvement scheme for Islington Council at Hathersage & Besant Estates in Newington Green. The scheme, designed by Studio Partington, includes 45 new dwellings provided in seven new infill blocks, ranging from 2 to 6 storeys in height. The proposal also includes an increase in floorspace for commercial uses through the demolition and reprovision of units occupied by an existing dentist and chiropodist.

A comprehensive landscaping strategy, which included improvements to the public realm, open space and children’s play space was designed by HTA Landscape. Of the 45 new dwellings, 24 dwellings will be affordable housing. The dwelling mix proposed will allow residents to remain on the Estate by downsizing to smaller units. There is a loss of two units at ground floor of one of the existing blocks; this space will be reused for communal uses such as bike stores and the residents will be rehoused on the Estate.

Hathersage and Besant Estates were originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s: Hathersage Estate, a 7 storey T-shaped block is located on the southern side of Newington Green; Besant Estate is composed of a 10 storey tower, Big Besant Court, and a 5 storey L-shaped block, Little Besant Court. These two Estates are linked by a disused sunken ballcourt and play area, which has attracted antisocial behaviour; this has been raised as a concern during public consultations by residents who live on the Estates. The public realm is also characterised by car parking and low quality, inaccessible amenity spaces.

Infill development presents challenges to design due to the existing constraints of the site, and the need to meet the requirements of LB Islington’s policies that ensure dwellings with high quality amenity are built. The scheme, which has been through a lengthy design process including scrutiny by the Design Review Panel, is an excellent example of infill development and estate improvement. A variety of housing typologies are proposed which make best use of the spaces available for development. 

A new central square will be introduced at the heart of the Estate, which will be easily accessible to the existing and new residents, with new blocks around the perimeter to ensure that there is passive surveillance.  Amenity space will also be provided for use by residents in the blocks, and the new dwellings will all have private amenity space. 

The Estate is located in a Conservation Area, and consideration has been given to the impact that the proposal will have on this heritage asset; the Officers support the proposal, and consider that the proposed housing, including affordable housing, and the improvements to the public realm outweigh any harm that is caused to this heritage asset.

We are immensely proud to have been involved in an exceptionally well designed scheme that came out of a very thorough engagement with residents, the Islington Design Review Panel, a very committed design team and excellent Islington project manager. Hathersage and Besant Court is a prime example of the immense potential of London’s existing and largely unknown ‘small sites’ and what could be achieved on these through imaginative solutions.

 - Riette Oosthuizen, Planning Partner at HTA Design

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