ROYAL Mail has organised a new exhibition about the Mount Pleasant development so people can see the progress being made on the project.
Sadly, no significant changes have been made to the initial
proposal. This is despite earlier feedback given at the first exhibition
and the strong feelings expressed against most aspects of the
development at the Holiday Inn public meeting in November.
This should come as no surprise though. All Royal Mail is doing here
is ticking the “consultation process” box. This hollow procedure may
give some a sense of democracy but will only damage the community by
delivering what promises to be one of the worst developments Islington
has seen in years.
If anything, the development looks worse as details of the design
emerge. It is an extremely dense development, which will impact heavily
on nearby residents and offer crammed housing for the new ones.
Despite what the architects say, the height and design of the
buildings (up to 15 storeys) are not in keeping with the wider area,
which consists mostly of Victorian and Georgian houses and low rises.
Most shockingly, it is estimated that the proportion of so-called
“affordable housing” will only be around 20 per cent. With rents that
can be charged up to 80 per cent of market price, everyone knows that
“affordable housing” is everything but.
The 20 per cent on offer is a disgrace. What this means is 80 per
cent exclusive flats and the gentrification of yet another part of the
borough. Expect fancy shops and restaurants, and the usual corporate
chains of coffee shops that exploit their staff and avoid paying taxes.
Islington Council says it is committed to 50 per cent affordable
housing in large developments. This should be a minimum and the Mount
Pleasant development should not be exempt.
What this development should deliver is genuinely affordable
social-rented housing. With the austerity measures and the cap on
housing benefits, a growing number of people can no longer afford a
decent home in the borough. We cannot allow them to be let down in the
name of profit.
It is clear by now we cannot trust Royal Mail or anyone to deliver
what is needed for the community with this development. It is also clear
that nothing will be achieved through the official channels of
“consultation”. A solid and collective opposition needs to be built if
we want to stand any chance of getting anything out of this development
other than an anti-social eyesore.