Highbury Fields could have a new cafe and wildlife garden as Town Hall sets out ideas for £850k revamp

Artist’s impression of the new cafe. Image: Islington Council

A wildlife garden and new cafe could be on the cards as part of an £850,000 facelift for Islington’s largest open space.

The council unveiled its blueprint for the 29-acre Highbury Fields and urged residents to tell it what they think.

The park runs from Highbury Corner towards Highbury Barn and is a popular green lung for residents and for football fans watching matches at Arsenal’s ground. It is also a venue for the weekly five-kilometre park run.

The scheme includes a new cafe with toilets, a garden for children, public events and energy-efficient lighting at the multi-use sports pitches.

Other ideas include better access for people with disabilities, five unisex toilets and baby-changing facilities.

The council also plans to rewild an area near the park keeper’s lodge and return some land to green space.

The tennis courts were refurbished in 2015 and work was also done on the pool in 2007.

The council has a target to become carbon neutral by 2030.

It said some of the existing buildings, including the park bandstand, cafe building and park keeper’s bungalow, are of poor quality and some of them are unsafe and will be knocked down.

The council held a consultation over its plans for Highbury Fields but put things on hold after a shortage of external funds.

It revised its plans and said it took into account residents’ comments, including building the new cafe on the site of the current one.

Launching the survey, cabinet member for the environment Rowena Champion said: “We know how important Islington’s parks and green spaces are for local people, and the Covid-19 pandemic has only emphasised their role in supporting people’s physical and mental health.

“As a small, inner-city borough, Islington does not have a huge amount of green space, which is why we’re investing in maximising the spaces we already have for the enjoyment and wellbeing of our residents. ”

Between two and four trees are likely to be removed because of building work and will be offset by rewilding part of the park and “improving overall biodiversity”.

The council has pledged that memorial trees will be untouched.

Residents can view the plans at the Central Library daily, except Wednesdays, until Friday 11 March, the day the survey closes.

There will also be online events at 7pm on Monday 28 February and Wednesday 2 March.

The survey can be found here.