As the Heartland Project, a proposal to build 1,000 new homes on the grounds of the old gas works in Hornsey Park, starts to take shape, we are finally going to lose a couple of old friends, the mighty gas holders that still occupy the site. Rusty they may be, old and worn, but they are still a landmark and will be sorely missed once they are gone. However, with an acute housing crisis in London, especially in our own borough of Haringey, and no spare budget to save them, their demise is now imminent. In fact, the demolition experts are already clearing the ground and the massive steel meshes could come down any day now.
But while the gas holders may go, there was one feature of the site that we were never really prepared to give up on, which are the lime trees by the Hornsey Park Road entrance of the site. We had always hoped they would one day be part of a local village green, or, in more modern parlance, a pocket park, that would connect the new residential quarters with existing community of Hornsey Park and offer a pleasant resting, meeting and playing area, and a central focus point for the community.
Partly due to our campaign, but also due to necessity to have the remaining gas installation neatly tucked up in a corner of the development, that space has become available and has now been designated to be that recreational oasis that we were long hoping for. And the lime trees will be part of it.
So to bring the good news to the community, have a little celebration, and to say a last Goodbye to the gas holders, we organised a get-together under those very trees. Local residents set up a stall with cakes – particular thanks to Debbie Shedden – and refreshments, a small exhibition displaying the details of the new development was set up by [name to be added], and Gary Smith, the highways engineer, images of the gas holders taken by local people were on display.
It was a real success, and locals from our area came by for a chat and a slice of cake and were able to talk to the developers themselves, who had their representatives present. Residents who came to our recent meetings will have already met Abbas Raza from Local Dialogue, who support National Grid, Ashley Spearing, the development director for St William (the company now in charge of building the new flats), and his colleague Ralph Scott from Four Communications. All three were patiently answering questions regarding all aspects from demolition of the old installations to energy use of the new housing blocks. Earlier local MP Catherine West had called by for a briefing and to show her support.
The good news is that there seems to be a consensus to make it a high quality development, with brick facades and other durable materials which will hopefully help it to retain value and appearance of the buildings. Planned are shops and a school so that it will not have the ghost town atmosphere of the New River apartments just across the railway line. There may be a new bus route for the new homes via Mary Neuner Road, plenty of greenery and a footpath that cuts through the development towards the railway underneath to Alexandra Palace. New residents in these home will not be able to apply for parking permits, so it should not unduly affect the existing parking situation.
But many details of the development are still to be decided.
While we know where the location and height of the new buildings, we still don’t know what they will look like. Which parts of the gas holders are important to salvage and where should they be displayed? While we have assurances for the new pocket park, we still don’t know what its design will be and what features it will have. A lot of input is still needed and a watchful eye to ensure that the Council, the developers and other parties involved deliver on their promises.
The more detailed plans for the site will be presented Haringey Planning Department’s Development Management Forum to be held in the Heartlands School at 7pm on May 23rd 2016. (This is an official consultation with the public).
Ashley, of St William and various affiliates, is about to start a series of workshops about design issues, pocket park, green corridors and so-on – at which we’ll be represented although they will also be open to the public. A regular streering group will be set as well. The current Resident and Business Liaison Group will continue to meet throughout the period of remediation and dismantling to exchange information, monitor impact and so-on. for Haringey, Highways will start their consultation on street and traffic improvements soon
In all these consultations and workshops and forums the one important asset for our community will be participation and representation. The more people attend and provide input, the more weight our opinions will carry.
Information that may be helpful:
Local Dialogue, representing National Grid, with general info on the development: http://www.haringey-heartlands.com/