For over 20 years, thousands of people travelling down Caledonian Road past its junction with Killick Street and Wharfdale Road will have wondered “why has that tumbledown building been left to rot?”
But, after legal threats by Islington Council, it now looks like the building’s owners are preparing to demolish and erect a “facsimile” building in its place. New scaffolding has gone-up and safety netting installed, prior to demolition.
Detailed planning permission was finalised in May 2013 for the demolition of the existing building and the erection of a 3 storey plus basement replacement with an “A1 use” (retail) at ground and basement floors and 3 self-contained flats (see below for fuller details).
The Council had been in contact with the owners repeatedly since their original planning permission was granted in 2011. Legal letters had been sent threatening formal action (which would lead to compulsory purchase) between June 2012 and June 2013. In October 2013, Islington Council received assurances from the owner that they will commence demolition in early 2014. They have promised a timetable with a new superstructure erected by August, roof installed in late October and the works completed by July 2015.
The Council is closely monitoring the site and progression of works and will consider further formal action if progress is not satisfactory.
Cllr Paul Convery comments “Many people, myself included, have been perplexed why this building has been derelict for two decades, especially considering the very high land values in the area. Partly the problem is “land-banking” where an owner just sits on a property waiting for its value to increase further. But it’s also due to a bit of ‘planner purism’ getting in the way, particularly from English Heritage. In a conservation area, it seems to be professional anathema for planners to have an old building torn down. Even if it’s almost collapsing through decades of abandonment. But now there is simply no economically feasible way the original fabric of the building can be retained. It’s just too far gone. After some pressure, our planning and conservation officials finally accepted that a demolition and re-build was the only possible way to rescue this site. I just hope the owners pull their finger out and genuinely get the redevelopment done. If they don’t – and we’re keeping a close eye on this – then the Council will re-commence legal proceedings”.
UPDATE: 12th February
Demolition work has begun but residents have asked if it is safe. The building is being demolished directly above the pavement. Cally Councillors asked the Council Streetworks team (who issued the scaffold licence) to revisit the site and they have now arranged modifications to be made to the scaffolding and agreed a revised demolition method for working alongside the highway (more dismantling than demolishing). The Streetworks team will continue to monitor the site to ensure public safety until demolition is complete.
Some more detail on the planning history: Permission was first given in 1986 but never used and the building became unoccupied. Almost twenty years later, in July 2005, permission was granted to “completely refurbish” with a shop at ground floor and five 1-bedroom flats including a mansard roof extension. This was never implemented. The owners put-up a 3 storey high wraparound advertisement hoarding without planning permission and the Council refused their retrospective application. Several further planning applications were submitted in order to demolish and rebuild but these were refused, most recently in 2008.
In May 2013, detailed permission was granted to new owners (P2012/0111/AOD) pursuant to planning application P112597 (an original permission grantedFebruary 2012) for the demolition of the existing building and the erection of a 3 storey plus basement facsimile building with a ground and basement A1 unit and 3 self contained flats (3 x 2 beds). The applicants are private developers, Mr and Mrs Schwarzemann who have a registered address in Edgeware and their architects are Design Solutions based in NW6. The Design and Access statement is here http://planning.islington.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00172785.pdf with drawings of external detailing here http://planning.islington.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00049742.pdf and internal plans here http://planning.islington.gov.uk/NorthgatePublicDocs/00049742.pdf
“Sunflour bakery” has opened for business at 263 Caledonian Road, selling a fantastic range of fresh bread, cakes and pastries all hand-produced on the premises by the partnership of Paul O’Brien and Gabriela Cristea.
This great addition to the Cally high street has been trading since just before Christmas and is already delighting customers from both sides of the Caledonian Road.
Each morning Paul bakes a great range of tasty bread, brown, white, wholemeal with two signature loaves that are especially popular – a brown sunflower seed loaf and a traditional Irish Soda (or “Wheaten”) Bread. Gabriela produces wonderful sweets, cakes and pastries including a lovely cinammon flavoured bread pudding. They also bake made-to-order cakes for special occasions. And Gabriela also serves very good coffee !
Cllr Paul Convery says “What a great new business this is. Paul and Gabriela are producing very high quality bread made with the best ingredients and nothing uneccessary added. I always used to buy our bread from the Co-op but that’s no longer. Sunflour Bakery produces some of the best flavoured and textured bread I have ever tasted. To have a bakery of this quality on our high street is testament to how things are really improving on the Cally.”
The Sunflour bakery is at 263 Caledonian Road, N1 1EE. For easy reference that’s on the west side of Caledonian Road between Bingfield Street and Story Street (almost opposite the post office located between Bridgeman Road and Richmond Avenue). The shop is open Monday-Saturday until 6pm.
Rupert Perry and Paul Convery will be re-standing in this year’s election for Islington Council and will be joined by a lifelong community campaigner, Una O’Halloran.
Rupert and Paul were both elected for Caledonian Ward in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. Previously Rupert had represented the Cally from 1990 to 2002. Both are well known in the area (Rupert especially) and need no introduction.
Rupert and Paul were delighted when the local Labour Party picked Una to fill the slot after our 3rd Councillor, Charlynne Pullen, decided against re-standing.
Una was born and raised in the south of Islington and has been actively involved in community affairs for more than 15 years. For the last 6 years she has been chair of her local tenants association, the Safer Neighbourhood Panel and local Housing Panel.
In her daytime job, Una is a Teaching Assistant in a local school where she is a GMB member and workplace representative. Una is actively involved in two local churches and is also a school governor.
Paul Convery says “We’ve got an outstanding candidate in Una. She is going to be a great Councillor working hard for the people on the Cally. Una has got her feet firmly planted on the ground. She modestly says she is an ordinary person who wants to work hard for people like herself.
“When Labour picked her she said very eloquently that she knew the benefit of education to combat poverty and, as an active member of her local churches, she ‘knows the value of faith and community’.
“I think Caledonian Ward is going to be an even better community having Una as its next new elected representative.”
Over the next 3 months, Charlynne Pullen will be fulfilling all her duties as a local Councillor right up to election day.
Islington Council has announced a £350,000 upgrade to the facilities at Cally Pool. The Council has successfully raised £250,000 in Lottery sports funding and is matching it with £100,000 of the Council’s own scarce capital funds. The work will start just before Christmas and is subject to consultation with users, especially the organised swimming clubs.
The investment will pay for new changing rooms, showers and other fitness facilities. The present Cally Pool suffers from very basic facilities and users have recently complained that the cleaning standards and general hygiene could be significantly improved.
Caledonian Ward Councillor, Paul Convery says ”My wife and I take our kids to lessons each week at Cally Pool and we all enjoy swimming there. The staff are good, friendly people who are very aware of the building’s limitations. However, the experience for swimmers is not that great especially compared with other Islington pools like Highbury or the fantastic renewed facility at Ironmonger Row. It is perfectly possible to provide a great standard of service even at a dilapidating facility although, in fairness, it is harder and possibly more expensive to do so. The Cally deserves better than this. That’s why Islington’s Labour Council has acted to improve our local pool.”
Islington Council is currently re-tendering the entire leisure contract and service quality will be one of the fundamental criteria in awarding that contract. But with the £350,000 investment in place, there is no reason why Cally Pool cannot match the standards achieved in other Islington pools.
Cllr Janet Burgess, the Council’s Executive Member for Health & Wellbeing added “Cally Pool is a much loved and well-used community facility, so we are delighted to announce £350k from Sport England and Islington Council to upgrade changing rooms, showers and other fitness facilities starting before Christmas. It has needed this upgrade for some time, and I am very pleased that we have now managed to get the funding in these difficult times.
“Older facilities can be harder to maintain and clean but that’s not an excuse and we are concerned if some users have had a poor experience lately, whether at the Cally or elsewhere. We hope our investment helps Cally Pool match the consistently high standards achieved in other Islington pools. I am sure that Cally Pool users will help us monitor this and I ask for their patience whilst the work is carried out.”
Residents, traders and other well-wishers gathered at the weekend to mark the completion of the new logo on the old “Ferodo” bridge on Caledonian Road. The bridge is a local landmark that carries the North London freight line and Overground service over the road just west of the Caledonian Road & Barnsbury station.
Islington Council’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Theresa Debono, officiated the unveilling and the release of balloons to celebrate the occasion.
The new slogan “The Cally” was chosen in a straw poll conducted by local Councillors in which the winning words were chosen by a large majority of participants.
The new logo represents a further step forward towards improving the look and reputation of the Cally Road. The unveilling of the new bridge scheme comes in the weeks running up to the 2013 Cally Festival on 8th September.
Councillor Rupert Perry says “We’re making a big effort to spruce-up the Cally Road and the new bridge logo is a very visible sign of change that’s coming. It’s important to get a good balance between the ‘old’ Cally and the ‘new’. The road itself is the High Street for our neighbourhood and, to some, it represents a boundary between the communities on the east and west sides of the road. We’re determined to create a distinctive, single place that is shared by everyone so that all our residents can say the Cally belongs to us all.”
The Council had learned in March this year that Network Rail intended to repair and repaint the bridge and remove the old Ferodo advert in the process. At that point, local Councillors through Team Cally, requested that Network Rail allow a new sign to be painted and this was agreed. The new words have been painted using a typeface that resembles the old Ferodo lettering. Apart from the relatively small cost involved in acquiring lettering stencils, the bridge has been repainted entirely at Network Rail’s cost.
Controversial Cally Road student housing nominated for “Carbuncle Cup” – one of Britain’s nastiest new buildings
An £18 million 350 room student housing development on Caledonian Road has been nominated for the “Carbuncle Cup” – a prize for the country’s worst new building in an annual awards competition.
The building at 465 Caledonian Road was refused planning permission by Islington Council in April 2010 but the developer got this decision overturned by submitting an appeal to a Government appointed planning inspector.
In April 2010, the Council did not have any planning policy to limit the number of purpose-built student residences. This only happened after Labour took control of the Town Hall in May 2010. So the decision by the planning committee in April 2010 cited as reasons for refusal: “its bulk, mass and height were unacceptable; insufficient daylight would reach some rooms in the development.”
In a highly controversial decision, the Inspector ignored evidence that showed student rooms would not have the legal minimum of daylight. Instead he declared that “student lifestyle” meant the rooms would only be used for sleeping and therefore didn’t need the full quota of daylight.
The facade of the original warehouse in Caledonian Road, dating back to 1874, was locally listed and therefore had to be retained. It now sits a few feet in front of a new building. The floor levels and internal walls of the new building do not align with the original building. As a result, 23 of the 44 rooms facing the street look directly onto the masonry of the facade’s “back” wall. For those students, the street is only visible at an oblique angle.
Caledonian Ward Councillor Paul Convery was chair of the planning committee which refused permission in 2010 says “I was staggered when the Planning Inspector overturned our refusal decision. His amazing disregard for normal daylight and design standards was quite extraordinary. Now the building has emerged from its hoardings, the full absurdity of the design is suddenly apparent. If it weren’t so bad it would be laughable. This building is a complete joke.”
This case dramatically strengthens the argument that developers should not be allowed to routinely appeal againt local planning decisions. Paul Convery adds “too often, when developers fail to get a planning permission they just automatically lodge an appeal in the hope that they can get a different decision. They hire top lawyers and planning consultants to bamboozle Planning Inspectors. And by racking up huge legal fees, they threaten the local authority with a “costs judgement” meaning that, if the Council loses an appeal, it may have to pay the developer’s legal bills too. In some cases, the risk of costs means a local authority backs down. I’m glad to say that, in Islington, we don’t let developers bully us like that.”
Islington Councillors are calling for the law to be changed so that developers can only submit an appeal where they can show legitimate reasonss, for example, if the local authority has disregarded its own policies or failed to take significant evidence into account. This would bring planning appeals into line with the rules on appeal in the civil and criminal legal system.
The Inspector’s decision letter is available here. It is worth reading for the sheer audacity with which the developers and University College London told the Inspector that daylight didn’t matter to students because they “only sleep there”. The Islington Tribune also carries the story here.
The opening of 17 new homes was praised by the leader of Islington Council at a meeting of the full Council on Thursday 27th June. The new Council built homes on the Westbourne Estate’s Vulcan Way have been created from converted garages udnerneath flats originally built in the mid 1970s.
A handful of the new flats are being offered for sale but three quarters are available as standard Council tenancies. They have been allocated to existing local residents who either lived in overcrowded homes, wanted to downsize or residents with mobility problems who need homes that are easier for them to access and get around.
Of the 17 new homes, 15 are one bed flats that have been created from 60 disused garages on an estate where residents had experienced anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping. Two further homes – one four and one five bed house – have been built on a disused car parking area. The scheme is self-funding with 75% affordable housing.
The new homes are very much cheaper to heat and maintain than traditional properties. The whole of Vulcan Way has been upgraded with new green space, planting, paving and lighting.
Islington Council is building 2,000 new affordable homes by 2015 to alleviate the borough’s housing crisis. As the borough is short of open space, the Council has identified development opportunities for new council housing, including poorly used areas on council estates, taking opportunities to improve the environment for existing residents, increasing the quality and quantity of greenspace where possible.
Downsizing to smaller homes frees up properties for families needing larger homes – Islington has some of the worst overcrowding in the capital.
At an opening ceremony earlier this month, Islington Mayor Barry Edwards, Caledonian Ward councillors and MP Emily Thornberry cut the ribbon for the first tenants moving-in.
Cllr James Murray who represents Caledonian’s neighbouring Barnsbury Ward and is Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development said: “Islington faces a housing crisis – with government benefit cuts and private sector rent rises making it harder and harder for many residents to afford to live here. Building new council homes for local people helps families living in overcrowding and means we can make sure there is more genuinely-affordable housing in Islington.