Photomontage impression from Highgate Hill opposite Lauderdale House.
The Highgate Society is providing support to the Better Archway Forum to work for a community friendly development on the Archway Campus site (also known as the Holborn Union site). We think there should be little or no high rise building, a sustainable development, no student housing but good levels of social and affordable housing. If you’re interested in joining our team to help with this campaign, please get in touch at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are particularly interested to hear from those who live in LB Islington.
The developer’s perspective
The developer’s slide pack is shown in an earlier post on our website (see here) [BTW: Can you spot the error on page 14? The first correct answer gets a free coffee and cake at the Highgate Society on Saturday.]
The developer’s website is here: https://www.archwaycampus.co.uk/
What would it look like from a distance?
These are our own artist’s impression photomontages showing views of the proposed 36 storey tower.
Some of the key issues
The following text is reproduced courtesy of Better Archway Forum.
After buying the old hospital buildings at the bottom of Highgate Hill and Archway Road in 2014 for £23m Peabody Ltd (the commercial arm of Peabody) failed to progress any development while also refusing access to temporary organisations like Shelter from the Storm.
They have now leased the site for £38m to private developers Seven Capital who have proposed demolition of the southern part of the Conservation Area in order to build a 36-storey-plus tower for 300 students, gutting the remaining heritage buildings for 125 private units, and building blocks of approximately 10 storeys on Highgate Hill for 6 or 7 social housing units and around 118 ‘affordable’ (rented at approximately 80% of the market rate, so in practice not very affordable).
This means that while housing remains a crisis for Islington and London, it is not clear that this scheme would meet needs. However, it would cause significant blight for Archway. The winter shadow projection shows how the shade cast by the 15-storey Archway Tower reaches not just to the Girdlestone Estate but right into Whitehall Park. The proposed tower would cast more than double that.
The developer has only shown images of the tower end on so at first sight it appears pencil thin. In fact the shape mirrors that of the Archway Tower, and with narrow gaps alongside it would cause at least as much wind blight as the tower, rendering the surroundings particularly unpleasant.
Profit and Planning
The relationship between Peabody and Seven Capital is not clear but over the period Peabody owned the site, the value did not increase by the percentage increase apparently paid by Seven Capital. At first sight it does look like Seven Capital have paid £10m too much, and in all events will be seeking to recoup money spent.
Sometimes developers argue that they cannot abide by local planning policy as otherwise they would make a loss. However, LB Islington very helpfully established in the High Court that the issue has no bearing on planning decisions.
While Seven Capital has been vague about details, they seem to be planning small units, but Archway already has an oversupply of small flats. The Land Registry shows that only half of those in Hill House sold, flats on the old Thomas Bros site are still on the market, and there are more about to be marketed in the old Paul Hamlyn House by Upper Holloway station. It seems unlikely there is demand for more of the same. Still less does there seem to be any need for expensive student housing. Indeed, LB Islington policy positively limits student housing, while also noting the problem that all too often it is used as undersized accommodation for non students.
And of the proposed affordable, currently only a tiny proportion would be genuine social housing. The vast majority is designed for profit rather than helping those in need of a home.
The site was one of the earliest to feature the innovative, narrow Nightingale wards, with windows on either side to create fresh air circulation (see the narrow structures on either side of the main building and external balconies for TB patients). Its architect also made an effort to create an attractive building with fine windows, interesting roofline and pinnacle water towers. It all mean the site deserves to be treated with care.
Currently Better Archway is looking at the issues with the Islington Society and Highgate Society and will report when we know more.
25 February 2023