Bid to revive run-down terrace

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Bid to revive run-down terrace
04 February 2009
A derelict hotel in Seven Ststers Road
A derelict hotel in Seven Ststers Road

THEY were once some of the most prestigious residences in London – a row of stunning townhouses overlooking Finsbury Park.

But the wealthy merchants who once inhabited the homes in Seven Sisters Road are long gone and many of the properties themselves have fallen into ruin.

Empty cider bottles and rubbish fill the stairwells while many of the imposing buildings have been abandoned, the doors swinging open in the wind.

And in place of well-to-do Victorian couples promenading in the park, crackheads and alcoholics stumble from halfway houses that have sprung up.

The Metropolitan Police crime map shows an average of 19 crimes a month in the vicinity, while a teenager was stabbed outside one of the buildings in 2007.

The buildings that have not fallen into dereliction either house recovering drug addicts or operate as budget hotels, branded “flea-ridden hellholes” by Islington’s deputy council leader Terry Stacy.

At the end of December last year the Spring Park Hotel caught fire for the second time within 12 months. It now lies charred and boarded up with sheets of metal.

Now Despina Johnson, of Finsbury Park regeneration group Finfuture, is calling for the authorities to step in and breathe new life into the squalid stretch. She said: “We need to find out if the owners of the buildings have any plans for the future. If not we need to look at what can be done to bring them back into use.

“The style of the buildings is wonderful and it would be great to bring them back to their former glory.” She added: “It is something that would really help bring some identity to the area. With the Olympics coming up there is a great opportunity for a positive future.”

In their heyday, the buildings would have been the jewel of Finsbury Park.

But architect Harley Sherlock said it was “very sad” to see them laid so low now.

“The buildings were built for rich city merchants because they were a carriage ride from the City of London,” he said. “They would have been occupied with very wealthy people with servants – I suspect most of the buildings will have back entrances for servants.”

Mr Sherlock, of the Islington Archaeology and History Society, added: “As the railways developed the merchants were able to live in the countryside so they moved out and the buildings were split into rooms.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Andreas says:

    The properties (396-408 Seven Sisters Rd) are owned by a Housing Association called Paradigm Housing. Hackney Council has approved their demolition for redevelopment into blocks of flats that in my opinion will be a very sorry replacement for these pleasant villas.

    My written objection to the building application was rejected by the Council. I then escalated it to the local MP Dianne Abbot. No joy because the planning permission had followed due process.

    My last port of call was English Heritage, who has finally responded that although the buildings contribute to the historic setting and Victorian character of the area, they can’t be saved by listing because “they need to display something special in terms of materials, craftsmanship or design; some bespoke treatment is required”.

    The non-listing decision was made by the Secretary of State and the 28-day review appeal has elapsed, sorry. The review can only be undertaken if there has been “factual error or process irregularity” – or “if there is significant evidence relating to the special architectural or historic interest of the building which was not previously considered.”

    I felt as if I’d been the only person fighting against their demolition, and can only hope the local community will now rise up and save their own built environment – I am no longer in North London. These are special buildings in the local context.

    1. Fin says:

      It looks like these are to be demolished any day now. there is such a transient community around here, getting anyone to seriously stand up to the council on matters like this is very hard. I too lodged a complaint but did not pursue it as much as the Andreas, thank you for your efforts. This is not good local government. the people making these decisions are entirely focussed on ramming up the most amount of council housing as possible to meet their targets and knocking down whatever stands in their way with no consideration of the historical context and long term impact on the area.

  2. Local resident says:

    Typical that someone who doesn’t live in the area would oppose it’s redevelopment so vehemently. Anyone who lives in the area would know that these buildings have been an eyesore for many years. They were full of undesirables bringing the area down and the buildings themselves were in disrepair. Sad though it may be to lose the buildings character it’s much preferrable to living next to a bunch of crackheads and criminals. You’d probably feel similarly if you lived nearby. The sooner good use can be made of this scarce local land the better. Furthermore the area is not just full of disinterested people as you suggest. It’s more likely that the silent majority are quite happy with the plans for the site and must put up with the ramblings of people more interested in buildings than communities.

  3. gary says:

    ruin finsbury park =demolish historic buildings

    local resident=gives not a shit

    I do

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