Council to move ahead with supported living block despite neighbours’ protests

Islington Town Hall. Photograph: Islington Citizen

Islington Council is set to move ahead on plans to build an 11-bedroom supported living block on a car park on Windsor Street.

The scheme provoked debate when it was approved in 2018, with neighbours opposing it on grounds of overdevelopment and campaigners speaking of a need for accommodation for learning disabled people.

The Town Hall is now set to agree an appropriation of the car park, having established that without doing so the scheme could still be blocked by neighbours seeking a court injunction for diminution of their right to light or right of way.

According to a council report to be agreed on Thursday evening, the appropriation would allow the Town Hall to “override existing rights and extinguish adjoining owners’ rights,” with neighbours subsequently having a right to compensation. It is understood that £30,000 has been built into the budget of the scheme for this purpose, with one offer so far accepted.

The report reads: “Recent court cases have shown that where there is an actionable nuisance, the affected party is entitled to an injunction to prohibit the nuisance and it is for the defendant to show why an injunction should not be granted. 

“This could potentially halt the project altogether in a worst case scenario and even if the council succeeded in showing that an injunction was not appropriate, and damages were given instead, it would result in a delay to the delivery of the development as well as likely additional costs to the council.”

Planning permission requires the Windsor Street development to start by 9 May.

The debate over the block in 2018 “unsettled” the planning committee’s Cllr Paul Convery, particularly the use of terms including “institutional” and “warehousing disabled people” by some objectors.

Council figures show that the Town Hall commissions between 120 and 150 out-of-borough placements for adults with learning disabilities, primarily due to a lack of appropriate accommodation in Islington.

Islington’s own supported living and residential care services are consistently used at a rate of over 97 per cent, with 69 people waiting for this kind of accommodation, according to the Learning Disabilities Accommodation Plan 2017-2020. 

The Town Hall predicts the public benefits of the scheme would also include a reduction in costs for out-of-borough placements, and allow people to receive support from their families and services locally.

The report, introduced by housing and development boss Cllr Diarmaid Ward, said: “On average, 30-35 young people with learning disabilities transition into adulthood each year. The complexity of need is increasing year on year, which further increases demand on accommodation-based placements. Windsor Street has been designed specifically to cater to the needs of people with learning disabilities and will provide suitable accommodation to this client group.”