Why is the council looking to build new homes on its council estates?
We have a desperate shortage of genuinely affordable homes in Islington, and we want to build as much genuinely affordable housing in the borough as possible for our residents.
How does the council decide how and where to build?
With every project, we aim to:
- build as many new council homes as we can
- improve as many communal areas, facilities and landscaping as we can
- make sure the new homes and any improvements we make to an estate meet their residents’ needs (why we get as much feedback and local knowledge from residents and local people as possible at every key stage)
- ensure that when work takes place, it disrupts you as little as possible
- get the best value for money that we can for our budget
- make sure our proposals and plans meet all local and national planning laws and policies
How does the council make sure local residents benefit from the new homes?
We have a local lettings policy, so local people have priority for any new build homes. We also seek input from local residents and take on board feedback and suggestions as part of the design process. While we are building the new homes we also aim to make improvements so the whole estate benefits. This might be improving landscaping, communal areas, safety, access or green space.
Why do you sell some of the new homes privately, or offer them as part-buy, part-rent (shared ownership)?
We do this to help us pay for the new housing. In most cases, building properties for sale is essential to fund the council housing and other improvements we aim to carry out.
We try to make sure as many properties as possible are kept as council housing for our residents, and we also prioritise Islington residents for the properties we sell and offer for shared ownership.
How does the council get from presenting initial thoughts to residents, through to applying to get planning permission to do the work?
We gather information and present very early ideas to residents for comments
Our project managers work with architects and other professionals to identify underused and unloved areas on estates. Some of these might be good sites for us to build new homes on, and at the same time, deliver other improvement works for residents.
Sometimes we do studies very early on to find out things like what's under the ground; the condition of any trees in the area; whether a playground or parking area is well used; or what condition the existing buildings are in.
We use this information to come up with some initial ideas of what we might be able to do on an estate. At this stage, we might chat through our ideas informally with residents on the estate, or with the Tenants and Residents Association/Tenants Management Organisation to get a sense of what they think.
We present our initial thoughts to residents at the earliest possible stage, and sometimes this means that there isn't a lot of detail. This provides residents with an opportunity to give us their input which can help shape the design proposals.
We develop the designs further, then we have to get planning permission
There are several stages to go through before we decide whether a scheme will go ahead, and what work we will do. These stages include:
Developing the designs
Our architects use feedback from residents to work up design options for new homes and other improvements to communal areas, facilities and landscape on the estate. We write to estate residents and anyone else locally who is affected, to update you on the designs and ask for feedback – inviting you to attend an event, and/or fill in a questionnaire online or by post.
Preparing the planning application
Our architects will work up more detailed proposals taking on board your feedback and residents will be consulted once more. We will provide a timetable give residents an idea of how long the overall process might take. We will also consult with other stakeholders, including the Planning Department, Tree Officers, Estate Services and so on.
Formal planning stage
Once we have your final feedback, our new build team – like other developers who want to build in the borough - submit proposals for formal approval by our Planning department. They will write to let you know that the proposal (in the form of a planning application) will be available online for comment. Our Planning Committee, made up of councillors, will hopefully approve the plans at a Planning Committee meeting. [link to planning page]
Do you really take any notice of what residents say when you ask for feedback?
Absolutely - you are the local experts. When we ask for your feedback, no decisions have been made about our proposals. We really do rely on feedback and local knowledge from the people who live on the estate to sense-check, improve our ideas, and make suggestions about what can be improved on your estate.
We produce an information brochure and do our best to explain how we have responded to your feedback. There are questionnaires at every stage of consultation so everyone has a chance to have their say, even if they can't attend consultation drop-in events.
The consultation drop-in events are a great opportunity to get your voice heard and have your questions answered by the architects and project managers that will be working on the project.
What do I do if I have any questions, comments or concerns?
Our drop-in events, design workshops and meetings are an ideal place for you to ask our architects and project managers any questions you have. Or you can call or email your project manager if you can’t make the meeting.
What happens if there are trees where you are planning to build?
We aim to retain as many good quality trees as we can and work very closely with the council’s tree officers. Any trees removed will be replaced locally in consultation with residents and the tree officers.
What happens if there is parking where you are planning to build?
If we build on parking spaces or garages, we will look at who uses the parking and when, and investigate options to provide parking elsewhere. We aim to re-provide parking bays needed to support the parking needs of existing residents on an estate. We will always replace blue badge parking bays locally, if we have to remove any while building new homes.