A room, a studio, a flat, a house? What does your home in Crouch End look like? When I first moved to Crouch End four years ago, it was to a room in a flat share, but now I am lucky enough to be able to rent my own place. What about you?
And what do you want from housing in our community? Maybe you live in a flat share and despair at ever being able to afford your own place – whether to buy or rent. Maybe you bought years ago, but now worry about where your children will live when they leave home, or when they will be able to leave. Maybe you are considering moving to a smaller or more manageable home that will support your independence as you grow older, but want to stay in the area. Or, perhaps, your experience of housing is different still.
Crouch End has grown from a relatively run down, poorer neighbour of Muswell Hill and Highgate to a thriving, creative and bustling hub. Arguably, one of the best areas in the London Borough of Haringey, if not beyond. That change has benefited those who bought property here and have seen prices soar, but what will happen now?
The residential development at Hornsey Town Hall generated much local interest, but what are Crouch End’s housing needs now and in the future? Do we need to provide a range of solutions for more mature neighbours whose family has long-since flown the nest and are now desperate to downsize? When this happens, what should be done with their, often, large houses? Haringey currently doesn’t permit houses to be converted into flats – should this policy continue?
How do you feel about affordable housing? In Crouch End, because of high land values, this is usually provided through a planning agreement, called Section 106, as part of a private housing development. In our area, these often come in the form of shared ownership (where people buy part and rent the other part of their home), is this the form of affordable housing that we need most in Crouch End? Do we want more homes let at social rent, as is the case for the (arguably, pitiful) 11 affordable units at HTH and the development, just announced, for the site of the former Holloway Prison? Would you prefer other forms of affordable, such as London Living rent (which is set at about a third of the average local salary) or rents below market level? Should affordable always be included on site, or are you happy for it to be provided elsewhere in the Borough where the same money could provide more units?
Some local authorities do not allow shared ownership to be provided through Section 106, as they can quickly be “staircased up” – where the occupier moves to full ownership – and sold on the open market, and so be lost to affordable housing. The purpose of Section 106 is to secure long-term affordable housing. With high values in Crouch End, shared ownership can also still be very expensive and, therefore, out of reach of many people doing essential local jobs, such as teachers and nurses. So, should we ask Haringey to insist on social or affordable rent only in planning under Section 106 schemes in Crouch End?
How do you feel about building height? The seven-storey development at HTH has proved controversial, and it’s not even built yet. Should this set a precedence for future developments, or should any new developments remain in keeping with the general look and feel of Crouch End? Anyone who can see the skyline across Crouch End, will see the height of the development near Hornsey railway station. Government guidelines on planning are under review and there has been some discussion on home owners being allowed to build up (adding one extra storey) without the need for planning permission. With the ever increasing height of apartment buildings and potential changes to planning rules – is the only way now up? Is that welcome?
I’m asking a lot of questions in this blog and that is deliberate. We, the Crouch End Neighbourhood Forum, are drafting a neighbourhood plan for our community and housing will be an important part of that. We would welcome your views on current housing and what you want to see in the future for Crouch End.
Some aspects of housing can create controversy. For example, one part of the neighbourhood plan will include sites around the area that could be developed for housing. These will be micro sites not previously identified and may include garages, and other small pockets of brown field. Recent examples of such sites include the new flats on either side of the Arthouse cinema and above the now-closed Kwik-Fit. Some of these schemes may be controversial, but new homes are necessary if we are to play our part in meeting London’s increasing and pressing housing needs. We discussed some of the potential sites at our AGM last year and now want you to talk to us – have you noticed a small site near you where housing could go?
At our AGM on Sunday, 31st March we will discuss the neighbourhood plan and we will be consulting on housing, and other aspects of it over the next few weeks so watch this space.
If housing is a burning issue for you and you want to get involved, please consider joining the Executive Committee at our AGM (see the posts in our recent newsletter and on the website for how). Please also feel free to give us your views on housing and the questions I have posed via the comments below.