Bid to revive run-down terrace
04 February 2009
|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.