Published: 12 February 2010
by PETER GRUNER
AN inquiry is being called for into why public access has so far been barred through Highbury Square – the former Arsenal football ground which has been turned into an exclusive £150 million “gated community.”
Developers maintain that they are working on a drainage problem and that is why they cannot open the public footpath through the 724 home complex.
But Highbury councillor Katie Dawson accused the developers of “stalling” on plans to open the path. The footway was a condition of the scheme imposed by Islington council to avoid the development – where homes range from £250,000 for an apartment to £1.5million for a three bed penthouse – being isolated from the surrounding neighbourhood.
Cllr Dawson, who lives nearby, said that the public footpath through the complex, between Highbury Hill and Avenell Road, was the only benefit the local community received from the scheme.
She added: “It would mean that pedestrians don’t have to make a 10 to 15 minute detour.”
She claims there has been a “breach of obligation,” by the developers.
Caroline Russell, chairwoman of pressure group Living Streets, said that there is a route through the development but gates prevent public access.
“You wonder if people who move into Highbury Square want to cut themselves off from the rest of the neighbourhood,” she added.
“We had hoped that new residents might want to contribute and support the local community, not turn their backs on it.”
Islington environment chief Lib Dem councillor Greg Foxsmith said there are problems with the drainage which means the path cannot yet be opened.
“It’s to no one’s benefit to keep it closed and the developers are working as fast as they can to solve the problem.”