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Welcome to the Better Archway Forum Web Site
Archway is a lively London village.
We have independent shops and cafes, a swimming pool, library, hospital, internationally acclaimed art school. There are also fantastic transport links with tube and overground stations, plus 14 different bus routes, not to mention the spot where Dick Whittington and his cat turned again to become Lord Mayor of London.
Archway’s boundaries are Dartmouth Park Hill to the west, Hornsey Lane to the north, Hazelville Road to the east, and Fairbridge Road and the Upper Holloway railway line to the south.
The Forum is a community organisation which works for everyone with an interest in Archway, whether they live, work or run a company here.
Our aim is to make Archway an even better place to live, work and play.
We have started and support projects that improve the quality of life in the area, and work to empower the community in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways to help make it a place where people can live, work and relax safely and successfully.
We have worked with local organisations and Islington council on a wide range of projects from greening to protecting historic buildings, improving air quality, and reducing carbon our footprint.
Holborn Union Development
After buying the old hospital buildings at the bottom of Highgate Hill and Archway Road in 2014 for £23m Peabody Ltd (the commercial arm of Peabody) failed to progress any development while also refusing access to temporary organisations like Shelter from the Storm.
They have now leased the site for £38m to private developers Seven Capital who have proposed demolition of the southern part of the Conservation Area in order to build a 36-storey-plus tower for 300 students, gutting the remaining heritage buildings for 125 private units, and building blocks of approximately 10 storeys on Highgate Hill for 6 or 7 social housing units and around 118 'affordable' (rented at approximately 80% of the market rate, so in practice not very affordable).
This means that while housing remains a crisis for Islington and London, it is not clear that this scheme would meet needs. However, it would cause significant blight for Archway. The winter shadow projection shows how the shade cast by the 15-storey Archway Tower reaches not just to the Girdlestone Estate but right into Whitehall Park. The proposed tower would cast more than double that.
The developer has only shown images of the tower end on so at first sight it appears pencil thin. In fact the shape mirrors that of the Archway Tower, and with narrow gaps alongside it would cause at least as much wind blight as the tower, rendering the surroundings particularly unpleasant. (Image below based on details provided by the developer.)
Profit and Planning
The relationship between Peabody and Seven Capital is not clear but over the period Peabody owned the site, the value did not increase by the percentage increase apparently paid by Seven Capital. At first sight it does look like Seven Capital have paid £10m too much, and in all events will be seeking to recoup money spent.
Sometimes developers argue that they cannot abide by local planning policy as otherwise they would make a loss. However, LB Islington very helpfully established in the High Court that the issue has no bearing on planning decisions.
While Seven Capital has been vague about details, they seem to be planning small units, but Archway already has an oversupply of small flats. The Land Registry shows that only half of those in Hill House sold, flats on the old Thomas Bros site are still on the market, and there are more about to be marketed in the old Paul Hamlyn House by Upper Holloway station. It seems unlikely there is demand for more of the same. Still less does there seem to be any need for expensive student housing. Indeed, LB Islington policy positively limits student housing, while also noting the problem that all too often it is used as undersized accommodation for non students.
And of the proposed affordable, in almost all cases, whatever the agreements, in the final schemes there is only a tiny proportion of genuine social housing. The vast majority is designed for profit rather than helping those in need of a home.
The site was one of the earliest to feature the innovative, narrow Nightingale wards, with windows on either side to create fresh air circulation (see the narrow structures on either side of the main building and external balconies for TB patients). Its architect also made an effort to create an attractive building with fine windows, interesting roofline and pinnacle water towers. It all mean the site deserves to be treated with care.
Currently Better Archway is looking at the issues with the Islington Society and Highgate Society and will report when we know more.
Vorley Road Development
LB Islington was planning to build three blocks of housing on the Vorley Road bus stand and site of the old Neighbourhood Office, half as social housing and half for private sale.
This scheme has now been withdrawn as it did not meet the requirements of the GLA, post Grenfell, to provide sufficient protection in the event of fire.
It remains to be seen what comes forward in its place. As noted before, building high triples the build cost but the densest and most popular housing is street-facing four or five storeys.
Small flats planned for sale are not what those who can afford to buy are seeking and there is already an oversupply of them in Archway which remain unsold. But it would be possible to provide all the proposed social housing (with disabled access) and recoup the cost in rentals over just 12 years, along with the separately financed GP practice and new library.
Arts Centre Proposal
After time spent finding organisations to back it and producing the worked up plans, there is now a planning application to turn the old Methodist Hall/Cinema into a community arts centre.
The idea is to make use of the building's original purpose, which was to be a welcoming place for everyone, with a wide range of activities in a layout including a performance space, projection rooms, cafe/restaurant, rehearsal areas and more.
The proposals include reducing the carbon footprint of the building by 70%, while keeping its original appearance and as much as possible of the internal and external detailing.
The Road Layout
The number one problem in Archway, according to community consultations for more than a decade has been the road layout and the impact of traffic. TfL’s scheme, rejected by 75% of respondents in consultation, shows significant problems when assessed against the main objectives:
Motor traffic to keep to the roads hierarchy with most vehicles on the main roads. But traffic including HGVs is now displaced to side roads
Improving southbound bus interchange to equal that northbound. Now northbound interchange is as bad as southbound so potential visitors, including shoppers, actively avoid the area
Shortening pedestrian transit times across the centre. Even TfL calculations show longer transit times, particularly to reach bus stops.
Separating cyclists from pedestrian and motor traffic, especially the HGVs that make up only 4% of motor traffic but are involved in 50% of cyclist deaths But cyclists are taken close to the sharp turns of the A1 and have frequently to give way to other traffic, motor and pedestrian.
Still lacking is:
Public transport serving points of demand ie terminating routes running to the Hospital northbound and Archway Market and Upper Holloway station southbound.
All buses travelling to the same destination (Archway Road or Highgate for example) leaving from the same stop.
For more information about Archway’s shops, services, history, children’s activities and more visit www.livinginarchway.org.uk.
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