Posts Tagged ‘social housing’

Highgate to Stoke Newington

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

On the early May Bank Holiday – the one that should have been on May Day but isn’t – Linda and I walked another short section of the Capital Ring, from Highgate to Stoke Newington.

After a short walk along footpaths and roads, the route joins the former railway line which is now the Parkland Walk. Quite a lot of this is in a cutting, though there are some embankment sections, but except where the line has bridges over roads the view is often very limited by trees and bushes which have grown beside the former line.

A long bridge takes you across the East Coast main line and its suburban outliers and into Finsbury Park, where both cafe and toilets were very welcome.

Across the park you join the New River, supplying water to London since 1613, thanks in particular to the efforts of Sir Hugh Myddelton, though I expect he had quite a few others to dig it for him (and it wasn’t his idea in the first place.)

This goes along the edge of the Woodberry Down Estate, a large area bought by the LCC for housing in 1934, but only developed after the war as a ‘utopian estate of the future‘. Building began in 1949 and the 57 large blocks of flats were only completed in 1962. The estate included the country’s first purpose built comprehensive school and a medical estate opened by Nye Bevan, but unfortunately was allowed to deteriorate over the years, and beggining in 2009 became one of Europe’s biggest single-site estate regeneration projects.

The controversial scheme by Berkeley Homes, Notting Hill Genesis and Hackney Council will involve a loss of around a fifth of social housing in the area estimated by the council at around 320 homes and has been described as ‘state-sponsored gentrification‘ with 3 bed flats selling for around £800,000 and many being bought up as investments by foreign investors rather than used as homes.

On the opposite side of the path, across the New River are large reservoirs of open water, part now a nature reserve with public access (and another tea room with toilets) and another used for sailing and other water sports. The remarkable Scottish Baronial castle built as offices for the water board is now a climbing centre.

From there it’s a short walk to Clissold Park (another cafe and toilets – this must be the best provided section of the Capital Ring) and Stoke Newington Church Street, often described as a ‘hipster hub‘. Next to the park are the two churches of St Mary, the older locked but with an atmospheric and overgrown churchyard and the Victorian built in 1858 to the design of Sir George Gilbert Scott,  open and well worth a visit.

As a final climax we came to Abney Park Cemetery, one of London’s finest, set up in 1840 as a burial ground for non-conformists and the final resting place of around 200,000 Londoners, now a nature reserve. We looked up the train times from nearby Stoke Newington station and rather than rushing through to the station spent some time wandering around and finding a few of the better-known graves and some other interesting monuments.

In our rush from there the few hundred yards to the station I lost a little concentration and we went down to the wrong platform and caught a train going into London rather than out and had to re-plan our journey home. It turned out to be almost as fast.

More pictures from the walk at Highgate to Stoke Newington.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.


Haddo

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

I woke up early this morning worrying about this picture, and that below of the Haddo estate in Greenwich, around Tarves Way off Norman Road close to Deptford Creek and Greenwich Station.

How is it that an estate which seems so neat and tidy and so well-loved both by the council and the residents behind their trim net curtains some 15 or 20 years after it was built in the 1960s (I can’t find the exact building date) had deteriorated to such an extent that the Haddo Estate around Tarves Way was one of the first to be ‘regenerated’ under New Labour with the homes emptied and demolished only 20 years later around 2003 at a cost of £90m?

Back around 2000, and to some extent now, politicians indulged themselves blaming the architect of these and other schemes, though more often it was perhaps the builders or system developers who were at fault for disasters such as Ronan Point, a short distance across the river. But many of the estates that have been or are being demolished were well designed, decently constructed and basically sound, perhaps good for at least another 50 years.

Many of the faults were faults of their time, which could have been prevented by proper maintenance or corrected with relatively inexpensive melioration – new windows, insulation etc. Resident caretakers and appropriate security systems – like those that turned Trellick Tower from sink to highly des res could perhaps have saved Haddo. Instead even many estates that were built with resident caretakers lost them, replaced by the occasional quick drive-by visit from a man in a council van – and the occasional heavy-handed police raid.

More fundamentally we have to ask how it happened that a housing policy once driven by social justice and civic pride that built many fine estates changed over that period to one led by estate agents, developers and profit. It happened under a regime that sought to remove all power from local authorities by a process of pauperisation and emasculation, forcing them to sell off properties at cut price and preventing them from using the proceeds to replace them.

And of course it goes wider than housing. Under Thatcher and Thatcherlite New Labour, greed and personal ambition at the expense of others became the order of the day. Our ideas about community, strong after the war and the era of the welfare state which followed it where whittled away by a leader who stressed self-reliance and the individual (or at best the nuclear family) and told us there was no such thing as society. Back in the early 80s I could walk around estates like this carrying a large bag of expensive camera gear and never feel any danger, but fifteen years later things had changed.

Part of the equation was certainly the relatively high standards, both of internal space in the dwellings and the green spaces around the buildings which make them such delectable targets for demolition and replacement with properties at high market or near market (the unaffordable “affordable”) returns.

I don’t know much of the details of the Haddo estate, either before or after its replacement, but have seen what has happened and is if anything now accelerating at other council estates in London, the majority in Labour-run boroughs.

Plans outlined in the building press showed ‘New Haddo’ was to have 510 homes, around half built for market rate sale, a third for some kind of so-called “affordable” rent and 85 for shared ownership. In most such regenerations by the time they come to completion, ways have been found to increase the proportion at market rates, by claiming that the developer cannot make sufficient profit – a figure set ludicrously high.

There appear to have been no homes in the new development at real social rents which most of those in the properties in my pictures will have been paying, and which will almost certainly have been sufficient to have paid off the council’s investment in building the estate.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images