This scheme provides much needed housing for the residents of Islington. There is a chronic shortage of affordable homes in the Borough. Out of a total of 55 homes, this scheme will provide 39 new affordable homes. It forms part of a wider Islington Housing New Build programme which seeks to provide 550 new affordable homes by 2022. Anti-social behaviour has been an issue on the estate; the estate open space is inaccessible; the Community Centre is in need of modernisation and improvement; and the Estate open space needs upgrading.
It is LB Islington policy to ensure that there is no loss of D1 Use Class. The existing youth centre ‘Spectrum’ occupied a building which will be demolished in order to facilitate development. This facility has been re-provided some 250 metres from the existing site, to an Islington owned property. In order to ensure that this move was secured, and the services provided by the youth centre could continue to be offered to the local community, a separate planning application was submitted prior to the main application. The same building also houses the dentist which was relocated from the estate at the same time.
The existing community centre will be replaced with a new larger community centre located at the heart of the estate (increasing in size from 259sqm to 380sqm) located on the ground floor of the 4 – 9 storey block with residential development on the upper floors. The new centre includes a hall, meeting rooms, therapy room, kitchen / bar area and an outdoor space and residents’ play area. The social value of this facility will increase for the local community which will benefit existing and new residents on the Estate.
Anti-social behaviour has been an issue on the estate, which appears to take place after dark, and it is undertaken by non-residents. Stairwells and access routes through the estate are recognised to be areas of anti-social behaviour. Residents wanted gates installed, but planning policy does not support gated communities. As such gateways into the estate have been more clearly defined, reinforcing estate identity. Improvements to lighting in the public areas are also a part of the proposal. Existing blocks will be provided with access control and fob access will be installed on bin stores. The new development will increase the amount of passive surveillance on the estate.
In addition to the housing elements, consideration has been given to the landscaping and amenity spaces on the estate which benefit both the community and the natural environment. The majority of the existing open spaces are retained; a number of these spaces benefit from SINC designation. Access will be improved to a wildlife garden, so as to improve usability. The new proposed communal open space (543sqm) that is on the site of the prior health centre will have 19 new trees, planting, paving and new lighting. Incidental play space is provided for toddler aged children.
Residents were very involved in the development of the proposals. The scheme improves the local environment and introduces new high quality but fitting components to the existing 1980s estate and the surrounding heritage assets such as St Luke’s.
Our team worked with LB Islington Housing New Build on a number of their projects for over a decade. The majority of this housing provision is through infill development, which by its nature is constrained and presents greater challenges in relation to satisfying policy criteria. During the design process for the Redbrick Estate scheme, our team provided guidance to the design team and other specialist consultants on the interpretation of policy. Key issues included:
- ensuring dwelling units achieve high amenity;
- consideration of the proposal in relation to the neighbouring heritage assets (St Luke’s);
- the re-provision of the community centre, providing for an enhanced community offer;
- the relocation of the Spectrum youth centre and the dentist to a new location through a change of use application which was submitted prior to the main application;
- the impact on amenity for existing residents and neighbours in relation to overlooking and maintaining privacy, and ensuring that any negative impacts were managed through the design; the security measures proposed to ensure that anti-social behaviour is reduced;
- a suitable architectural design approach to the infill residential buildings and community centre to fit in to an iconic 1980s estate but also an environment with significant heritage assets;
- and improvements to the quality of and accessibility to the communal open space.
We also provided advice in relation to the community consultation process, in specific: the timing of consultation events; the information that was presented to residents; the analysis of the consultation results; and the provision of this information to the architects and other consultants to ensure that designs were amended to reflect feedback.