Hillcrest estate residents cry ‘Not in our back garden!’ in Highgate development row
The future of a leafy Highgate council estate regarded as one of the best examples of social housing in the borough is under threat from plans to build desperately needed new affordable council homes, residents have warned.
In a bid to tackle Haringey’s affordable housing crisis head on, Haringey Council has earmarked the Hillcrest estate, off North Hill, as one of several sites it owns for development.
The move has prompted the estate’s residents to issue a rallying cry of “Not in our back garden!” this week as they launched a campaign to block tentative proposals for more council housing at Hillcrest.
Four patches of land on the red-brick estate have been targeted as potential areas for development – including a football green with permanent goalposts that were funded by the filming of a scene from 2004 hit zombie comedy Shaun of the Dead.
John Cope, acting chair of the Hillcrest Residents’ Association, said: “We are not approaching this from a nimby perspective, which typically is about not wanting something built next door. We are saying that they are trying to build this in our back garden.
“In 20 years time, I think people would look back at the decision to not build on the estate and be very proud of Hillcrest.
“But if we look back in 20 years time having built and destroyed one of the best examples of council housing in Haringey, people would talk about that decision and how it ruined what was a very lovely council estate.”
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A black hole of affordable housing in the west of the borough has roused the council to action but proposals to build in the post-war Hillcrest estate are at a very early stage.
The council set its sights on Hillcrest as one of the largest estates in the west of Haringey and, as it is already council-owned, there will be no land cost to build there.
It has not been decided how many blocks could be built on the estate and council-appointed architects have not yet drawn up designs for what the new buildings might look like.
But at a heated meeting with architects and council officers on Thursday at All Saints’ Church in Talbot Road, the estate’s residents said they will vehemently oppose any plans for development.
The potential loss of green space, social integration, architectural merit, and parking spaces were among chief concerns raised on the night.
Cllr Alan Strickland, cabinet member for regeneration and housing at Haringey Council, said he understood their worries but told the residents that he has just as many complaints from people calling on him to build more affordable housing in the west of the borough.
Cllr Strickland told residents: “We are particularly keen to see housing built in the west of the borough.
“This evening we have started a conversation with you about what could happen.
“We are at an early stage and want to be open and transparent with you.”