‘It’s Cally’s time’: Councillor hails resident-led plan for Caledonian Road

Bridge over Caledonian Road. Photograph: Islington Council

The Town Hall is set to release a development plan for the neighbourhoods and communities around Caledonian Road.

The ‘We Are Cally’ plan, stretching from this year to 2024, is in response to what the scheme notes as a “sense of disempowerment” in the area and a feeling that “projects and services are ‘done to’ the local community”.

The plan lays out actions that will be taken, inspired by resident feedback, across five key areas: opportunities for children, young people and families, the local economy, public spaces, health and wellbeing, and community connectedness.

Introducing the plan, Cllr Sara Hyde said: “The Cally is a warm, wonderful, idiosyncratic place where some of Islington and London’s biggest extremes not only co-exist side by side but positively thrive. Its problems are well documented, the struggles are real, the intergenerational poverty stark. 

“But those who know the people, the place and know its bones, know it’s more complex than that. There are so many deeply good things about the Cally. First and foremost: the quality and solidarity of the people are second to none. 

“So, when it came to thinking about a plan for Cally and where to start, the answer was obvious – it’s bloomin’ brilliant residents. The ideas, vision, knowledge of our residents, who are front and centre in this plan, are exceptional.”

One of the key actions will be the redesign of the Jean Stokes Community Centre, which, opening early next year, will transform from a simple hall for hire to a “drop-in, multi-purpose centre which is a hub for community life”, according to the Town Hall.

Nailor Hall, York Way and Westbourne Community Centres will also see renovations between now and March 2023.

The Town Hall has promised affordable premises for voluntary and community organisations in the redeveloped Orkney House, the council-owned buildings next to Bingfield Park, and the Jean Stokes centre.

A range of measures for children, young people and families have also been proposed, including two projects to support the transition from primary to secondary school, targeted help for Somali families worried about youth violence, and additional space at community centres for girls and young women.

Support for local businesses is also proposed through the plan, with a dedicated Local Economy Officer for the Caledonian Road and a new street market, the Cally Market, being explored.

Residents can also expect a pocket park to be made permanent at Freeling Street and a new football pitch and sports facilities to come to Barnard Park.

On health and wellbeing, a new greenway from Bingfield Park to Thornhill Square will be created through funding by the Cally Festival. An eco-mooring zone will be established on the Regent’s Canal, with electric charging points on the towpath to provide boaters with an alternative to burning solid fuel during a two-year trial.

The Town Hall has also emphasised the thread of community togetherness running through the plan, with its heritage team set to work with residents to share stories of the Cally, and grants of up to £500 to be made available to enable groups of residents to develop ideas and initiatives.

Hyde added: “We love this place. We love the people. We love its potential. And we are delighted that this plan, speaking to residents, voluntary sector organisations and key partners, is helping us take concrete steps towards realising that potential. 

“No more in the shadows, no more the underdog. It’s Cally’s time. It’s time for Cally’s people to shine. 

“This much-maligned road will no longer be hiding its light under a bushel; we can work together to see this place go from strength to strength. It’s going to be super-Cally-fragilistic-expialidocious.”

You can read the full plan here