After many years of uncertainty, there is a new Whitehall Park school underway running from Portakabins on the site of the former Ashmount school. If/when the new school reaches capacity, it will have a much smaller entry than the previous school on the site, and its use of space will be better (they hope to, for example, have an additional play area on part of a roof), so even allowing for play space above national and local guidelines, this still leaves space for much-needed housing on the rest of the site.
Islington has a huge need for more social housing – for example there are many young families desperate to move out of the ‘grandparents’ over-crowded home. Nearby residents (which could, for example, include people in overcrowded flats on the Hornsey Lane Estate) will get priority in the allocation of the social housing.
Local residents have asked us for information about the future of the site. Many decisions are yet to be made, but in answer to the questions, this is an update of the current situation. Up to around 50 new homes are likely to be built on the site, though the exact numbers and design will depend on what happens in terms of the new school.Recent News
Last year, the owners of the new school looked at the cost of retaining the old school building and, like Islington’s experts before them, the cost of doing so was so prohibitive that the only way forward was to build a new school from scratch. The good news is the much-loved cockerel sculpture on the front of the school is incorporated in the plans for the new building. New plans have been displayed by the school after input from the Islington Design Review Panel, a group of local architects and experts who meet regularly to advise the Council Planning Team on design questions.
Just before Christmas, the attempts to judicially review the secretary of state’s decisions for the site were finally exhausted and (separately) the Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association (ISHA) were appointed by the Council to make proposals for the remainder of the site. See Islington’s Executive report
(pdf, 6.3MB) or download just the section on the Ashmount site
(pdf, 541kB).Housing Plans for the site
In terms of the ‘housing mix’ (social housing / private housing) and the numbers, the above link states “The revised housing proposals that are being worked up in more detail by ISHA for the retained portion of the site suggest that up to 51 new homes could be built on the site, subject to the necessary planning and other consents. The majority of these new homes would be affordable with a mix of homes for social rent and shared ownership. The anticipated capital receipt would be apportioned from their original offer of an 80% affordable housing scheme on the whole site” (Section 3.13).
ISHA are now working on their plans for housing on the site, and will shortly be consulting locally with residents about their proposed plans. They will be keen to come to meetings. Local residents will have opportunities to get involved both directly with ISHA and through the formal planning process when their planning application goes in.
It is possible that planning constraints around the need to balance the school site with the housing site may mean there are less than the proposed 51 new homes. As Islington’s Executive said, the plan is that at least 80% of these new homes will be ‘affordable’ (the planning policy requirement is a minimum of 50% affordable housing). They will be a mix of ‘social rent’ and ‘shared ownership’ - the council’s general policy is that around 70% of the affordable housing is for social rent, with the other 30% being shared ownership. However these proportions have not yet been exactly determined as this is dependent on finances, planning, design and so on. The new homes will not all be houses – it is likely there will be some houses and some flats.Timetable
Given the planning procedure, although the school are understandably keen to create permanent buildings for their young children, ISHA have not yet got a clear planning application timetable. We will let WHPARA know when they do, but we can say that it will not be at Islington Planning Committee before May 2015 due to all the pre-application steps they need to go through (this includes the resident consultation). Whilst they are separate applications, Islington’s Planning Department are aligning the timetables of the school and the housing as far as possible.Trees on the site
Finally, the site has a number of trees (and there is wildlife associated with the trees), and residents have mentioned this. There are some strict planning policies around tree preservation. These involve evaluating individual trees on the site as to their conservation importance. Planning consultations will make clear which trees, after the evaluation, are proposed for removal, and whether there any plans to replace them elsewhere in the site. For this reason, in the ‘pre-planning’ process for the school, maintaining trees where possible has been an important factor in the siting of the buildings. In overall terms, Islington is proud of its pioneering steps making us a ‘Green’ Borough, for example the 20 mph speed limit has now been copied by many other London Boroughs.Ward Partnership meetings
We are very aware that the decision to move the school, and the proposals for the subsequent future of the site, have created a lot of local feeling, some of it very bitter. Whitehall Park is a wonderful area. We hope that now overall decisions are agreed by both central government and Islington, that the consultations about carrying out those decisions, will be conducted in an open, consultative and cordial way.
We will be returning to this issue in future ‘Ward Partnership’ meetings, where local residents (who have the time!) are encouraged to come and share their views on Ward issues. If you are too busy, the minutes go up on the web-site. We try to arrange speakers to help discussion. The dates (and, when they are ready, the agendas) are on the Islington web-site http://www.islington.gov.uk/involved/ward-partnerships/Pages/hillrise.aspx.
Councillor Joe Caluori, responsible for Education in Islington, came to the most recent meeting to update the people there on the plans for the site. He affirmed that although Whitehall Park, the new free school on the site, is not part of Islington Education Authority, we see it as part of the Islington ‘family of schools’ and we wish the school, and the Islington children attending it, all the best (just as a ‘by the way’, this year, Islington’s GCSE results rose to 34th in the country, compared with 2010 when the current administration took over when Islington schools ranked 143rd out of 152). ISHA will also be invited to Ward Partnerships (and will also come to local resident meetings if you invite them). If you are able to come, we also had a presentation about TfL’s proposed changes to the Archway at our recent Ward Partnership meeting.Keep in touch
Please do not hesitate to contact us on the former school site issue or any other issue. Our surgery details and emails are below, and we look forward to meeting those of you we have not already met, over the coming years.Our Surgeries
Cllr Michelline Safi Ngongo. First Wednesday of the month at 6-7 pm at St Mary’s Church, Ashley Road, N19. email@example.com
Cllr David Poyser. Third Saturday of the month at 11.00 am at Hornsey Lane Community Centre, Hazelville Road, N19. Dave.firstname.lastname@example.org
Cllr Marian Spall. Last Monday of the month at 6.00 pm at Caxton House, 129 St John’s Way, N19 3RQ. There is no surgery in August, December or on Bank Holidays. Marian.email@example.com
(No surgeries in August or on Bank Holidays)