‘Wasted spaces’ to be used as council plans to build 750 new homes to tackle housing waiting list

Dover Court - old garages that were demolished and replaced with new homes

Dover Court: these old garages were demolished and replaced with new homes. Photograph: Islington Council

Politicians have unveiled plans to build 750 new homes to help tackle the housing crisis  in Islington and pledged to work with residents on their wish lists as part of a £155m package to improve estates.

The executive member for housing, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, said the council aimed to build homes taking into account the residents and what they want on estates as it unveiled £155m to improve estates – with £10m to improve shared spaces such as playgrounds and outdoor gyms.

“Some estates might need a new playground, other estates might need new community gardens,” he said.

One of the challenges councils face is space, which is always at a premium.

Cllr Ward said the council still has “wasted spaces” such as empty plots and that there are opportunities to build over existing buildings. The council has 14,000 people on its housing waiting list .

Dover Court new homes - five new council homes built on the site of old garages

Dover Court: five new council homes have been built on the site of old garages. Photograph: Islington Council

The council marked the building of 26 new homes on the Dover Court estate off Balls Pond Road in Canonbury with an event for residents on 15 March.

The homes replaced old garages and a block of bedsits and the project also included a new space for the community to use.

Community development officer Steve White is keen to see a tenants’ and residents’ association use the rooms. People can also do yoga and pilates, attend coffee mornings and attend sewing classes there.

“I really want to get residents involved in activities here, which we couldn’t do because of the pandemic,” he said.

John Lowe moved to the estate last summer and said his wish list for new homes included places where people can “live quality lives”. He said accessibility is important for people.

“I would like people to have proper gardens so people can go out in a wheelchair,” he said.

“New homes should be on the right level for people in wheelchairs.”

He did not want to see new high rises either because of his concerns about fire and accessibility.

Cllr Ward said: “There’s no one size fits all.”

He said the council has a range of homes from 1930s mansion blocks to low and high rise blocks.

Residents in overcrowded homes still raise concerns at councillors’ surgeries, he said, and that the house building plans should help alleviate that problem.

“Everyone deserves a safe, decent, and genuinely affordable place to call home,” he said.