Campaigners speak out over loss of council homes in major rebuild of Woodberry Down estate

Part of the Woodberry Down regeneration scheme. Photograph: Hackney Council

Campaigners want to see the number of council homes increased in the final phase of a major rebuild of a north Hackney estate.

Developers Berkeley Homes, Hackney Council and Notting Hill Genesis plan to build 3,199 homes at the Woodberry Down estate, off the Seven Sisters Road.

It features more tower blocks, including a 21-storey skyscraper and two 18-storey buildings.

Previous phases on the 64-acre site have included tower blocks ranging from 26 to 31 storeys in height.

Developers outlined some of their latest plans at a pre-application meeting this week with members of Hackney Council’s planning committee.

They said they have increased the number of homes in the last four phases of the plan by 800, up from the 2,399 proposed in an earlier 2014 masterplan.

Forty-one per cent of the homes being built in the remaining phases will be affordable. Of those, 57 per cent will be shared ownership, and 43 per cent will be housing association flats.

The area set aside for open space has doubled since the previous 2014 masterplan.

Cllr Clare Joseph wanted to know why the density of homes had been increased.

Developers said whilst house prices are rising, building costs “are significantly higher” too.

Joseph said: “There has been a lot of controversy as to why this has not reproduced the council housing that was there.

“We need an increase in social housing to match the figure that was there.”

The Woodberry Down masterplan. Image: LDS

She is concerned that the proposed 1,228 social homes would mean a loss of hundreds of council flats across the whole development.

Resident Geoff Bell, who is a member of the Woodberry Down Community Organisation, said: “The issue of the amount and percentage of what is called ‘affordable’ social homes is key.

“These amount to only 41 per cent of the total build – a figure first agreed 20 years ago and never changed since.

“Of these, there has been an increased tendency to build more shared homes and fewer social homes.

“From the original to the second masterplan there was a loss of 200 homes.

“During phase three, more social homes were demolished than built.

“There is no indication this will change in phases five to eight.”

He added that shared ownership homes are becoming harder to afford.

“On top of this, there is now a proposed increase in density, and a resulting deterioration in the lived-in experience of existing and future residents.

“We are getting less social housing, more inequality of tenure, and greater density. This is not what the regeneration was meant to be about.”

Councillors are also concerned that the scheme does not include amenities such as a GP surgery to meet increased demand.

Developers said the NHS did not take up an offer in phase two of the plan.

They are holding events from 4pm to 8pm at Woodberry Down Community School on Wednesday 22 November, from 10am to 2pm at the Redmond Community Centre on Saturday 25 November, and from 3pm to 7pm at Berkeley Homes Site Cabins, Devan Grove, on Thursday 30 November.

There is also an event from 10am to 2pm at The Edge Youth Hub on Saturday 2 December.

The plans are likely to be submitted to the council’s planning department next spring.