Packington Square: After the Second World War

By the end of the Second World War Packington Square was in a sorry state. There had been bomb damage and lack of normal house maintenance for the long six years. The houses, which had been built for ‘Well-to-do' people a century before, were now old and very overcrowded. Families were crowded into two or three rooms. There was only one kitchen so most had no proper cooking facilities and no place to store food, so that they had to buy every day. They had small food safes, nailed to outside walls and reached through bedroom windows. There was only one bathroom and WC in the house. This involved sharing and many had to bathe at the Public Baths, queuing with their soap and towels. Add to this that the houses were often full of mice and even other vermin.

This was normal life for thousands of families and still the housing queues grew longer and longer.

The Building of the Packington Estate
on Packington Square, Islington,
in the 1960s.

North London Press

 Friday, October 26, 1962

Council delay compulsory purchase order

Tenants fear ‘ghost town'

RESIDENTS on the ten-acre, privately-owned Packington Estate, N.1, want Islington Council to save the area from becoming a "ghost town." 1n the spring of last year, notices to quit were served on some of the families in the Linton Street vicinity. The Ve-Ri-Beck Manufacturing Co., the then owners, wanted possession of certain houses for the first stage of a modernisation scheme throughout the estate.

Notices withdrawn

To help the tenants, Islington Council have twice been recommended by the Housing Committee to make compulsory purchase orders on 22 properties on the estate. which includes parts of Arlington Avenue, Dame Street, Bevan Street, Linton Street, Packington Street, Prebend Street, Rector Street, St. Paul Street and Union Square, N.1. The notices to quit were later withdrawn by the estate owners and the compulsory purchase order was not proceeded with.

Residents on the estate told the  ‘North London Press’ that as far as they were aware, the council had taken no further action in respect of the compulsory purchase orders.
Said one man;

"Neither the council nor the owners have made any further moves and the position of stalemate that has arisen has produced a feeling of uncertainty among the families here. They want to know one way or another what is going to happen to them and their homes. Shopkeepers on the estate are also worried and some of them have been trying for a year to get the leases of their premises renewed."

Another resident said:-

"This estate is in danger of becoming a ghost town. The real victims of this atmosphere of uncertanty are the old people - a lot of them live alone. Also worried are the sub-tenants, some of whom are now the only occupants of houses which have been given up by the former sitting tenants."

The ‘North London Press' was told that the Packington Estate owners had not collected rent from sub-tenants. Said Mr. S. G. Decker, secretary of the Packington Estate Tenants' Association:

"Subtenants have been advised by us to put their rent money by each week.  They have been assured that they have nothing to worry about." He added: "A lot of people have moved out who would not have done so had they been certain how they stood in regard to their tenancies”.

"What we do consider disgusting is the amount of empty property on this estate. In addition to five vacant houses there are 50 empty rooms on various parts of the estate. We.think they should be used to help accommodate homeless families."

Said Ald. Ernest Bayliss, chairman of the housing committee:

" The council have approved the submission of a compulsory purchase order to the Minister as and when the town clerk and the borough engineer consider the time appropriate."

Alderman Bayliss appreciated that the people on Packington Estate would feel unsettled, but pointed out that the council had stated they would do everything in their power to prevent rent increases and evictions. "No evictions have taken place and there have been no rent rises," he added.

Suddenly the Council bought the Estate


'Tenants saved from eviction'
Friday, April, 26, 1963

THE Packington Estate purchase - at £582,500, Islington Borough Council's largest property deal - was approved at Friday's monthly council meeting.

Announcing the scheme. Housing Committee chairman, AIderman E. J. W. Bayliss. said: "I am very pleased that efforts to bring this scheme to a successful conclusion have been finalised. Many families on the estate were in danger of eviction. It is council's policy to protect tenants, and purchase of the estate was the only solution."

Ald. Bay!iss described the estate as one of the best laid-out areas in the bnrough.

'Some of the houses are most pleasing:' he said. 'They were built in a bygone age - and they were built for single family accommodation, not as now, for multioccupation." He said cost of development will be a heavy drain on the council's purse.

"We tried asking the Minister of Housing for a special grant to take over the estate. But this wasn't forthconming."

Councillor L. Bell remarked: " This news is very joyful. It was two yerars ago that the first notice to quit was served at the estate, and I should like to congratulate both the Housing Committee and the executive of the Packington Resident" Association, who worked together to bring about this magnificent step. This must be very rewarding for the people."

Heartfelt Thanks

Councilor. H. J. Robinson offered his congratulations and added: “The council can go no faster than legislation will allow and it might be some time before improvements to the estate are made.I offer my sincere, heartfelt thanks that this has been accomplished. I hope it can make the Minister of Housing take on a greater burden of the problem."

Coun. Robinson is chairman of the Estates Committee, which takes over once the Housing Committee has made a purchase.

FOOTNOTE: A motion put by independent member Conn. Geofrey O'Bonoghue, asking that recent housing density restricions be scrapped, was welcomed bv the meeting, and referred to he Public Health Committee for Discussion. Ald. A. J. Rogers, chairman of the Public Health Committee, said the motion was very intelligent and honest."

Suddenly the whole scheme was attacked by one of the Councilors

Islington housing committee member's attack

Packington Estate rehousing problem

A surprise attack on Islington Council's plan to demolish and rebuild the former privately owned ten-acre Packington Estate has been launched by Cllr. Harry Brack, a member of the housing committee.

"This is not a slum area," he declared. "The council bought the estate to protect the tenants, not to build another estate. Your desires as far as rehousing is concerned must be given every consideration. ­ You must not be pushed around."

Cllr. Brack, a chartered surveyor, urged the tenants to register their housing needs with the secretary of the Packington Street Tenants' Association so that he would then be able to acquaint the council with their requirements.

Getting the best

"If you want the best you can get, you must deal with the council collectively," he said. Cllr. Brack wondered what would happen to the old people if they were moved from the estate." An old age pensioner will live a lot longer here than in a so-called ' mod-con' in the 'Cally'."

Cllr. Brack said he did not wish to attack the council, who had a big job to do. They had not yet got planning permission to go ahead with their redevelopment scheme.

He told the " North London Press"

"To pull down these houses would be a national scandal. I will fight this thing tooth and nail in the council and outside."

Some of the houses were in a bad condition but he believed the properties could be rebuilt and improved, as had been done by the L.C.C. in other parts of London . Cllr. Brack added:--:

"It is socially wrong to uproot the local people in the way Islington Council hope to do. I hope the Minister of Housing and Local Government and the L.C.C. will take note, and bring a little wisdom and sanity to the housing policy of madness as practised in Islington."

Cllr. Brack claimed that the rebuilding of Packington estate would only produce a 25 per cent net housing gain.

Ald. Bayliss reminded the meeting that the council came into the area because some people on the estate had been threatened with eviction. Many of the houses were substandard, and in order to deal with the problem the council went to the Ministry of Housing arid submitted plans far the rehabilitation of the properties.

The Ministry, said Ald. Bayliss, sent their own architects to the area, and afterwards told the council that such a scheme would prove too costly. To prevent the estate from becoming a slum in a few years' time, the council decided to rebuild it.

The problems

Ald. Bayliss told the tenants: "We understand your problems only too well and we are doing our best to push the plans forward. You are in a difficult and unhappy position because you do not know month by month where you are going to be re-housed. "If the council could solve the problem more quickly, they would certainly do so. The council was not the deciding factor, but was subject to the over-riding powers of other bodies.

"We are at the bottom of a very big heap with the Ministry of Housing at the top," added Ald. Bayliss.

He said that instead of carrying out the redevelopment scheme "bit by bit" and making life unbearable for those waiting to be re-housed, the council proposed to do the work in two stages. The greater part of the council's housing accommodation during the next eight months would be used to take people from the estate. The council would then be able to proceed with the first stage of the building work. Many of those to be re-housed during the next eight months would go into new-type flats. All would be re-housed in the borough and as near as possible to the Packington estate.

Several people at the meeting said that according to a newspaper report, they were to be re-housed in the new flats to be erected on the estate. Holding up a book giving details of the council project, Ald. Bayliss said: "There is nothing in this book which says you will be re-housed on the estate."


Questioned about old age pensioners' removal expenses, Ald. Bayliss said that in certain cases of genuine hardship the housing manager was empowered to help with the outlay incurred. It was the council's policy to help the aged. If an application had been refused, he was prepared to go into the matter, added Ald. Bayliss.




Which homes should go down first?
Letter in ISLINGTON GAZETTE, 8.1.1965

I should like to reply to "Candid Comment" (Gazette, December 18). John Hustings correctly states that the Islington Society is opposing the Packington Estate development scheme, which would provide homes for 540 families at a cost of £2 million. What he does not tell us, however, is how much it would cost to rehabili­tate the estate, and how many more homes would be provided by the pro­posed scheme than by re­habilitation.

We do not say that the estate is of "particular architectural merit." What we do contend is that it is of good though unassuming quality, and that the cost of putting it into good order, as against replacing it, should be carefully considered and made known.

The housing situation in Islington is well known to be desperate, but if homes are to be pulled down and replaced, surely Beaconsfield Buildings should be dealt with in this way rather than the Packington Estate?
Your contributor's argu­ment that "Victoriana should stay in the scrapbook, for it has no place in the space
age," if carried to its logical conclusion, would lead to the destruction of most of Isling­ton. Is that what he really wants?

T. K. Butcher, Hon. Sec., Islington Society.


Why Demolish Good Houses?

Evening Standard 17.2.65

These are the houses the council plan to pull down.

Get rid of the slums first, says Councillor

Evening Standard Reporter

Popham Street Cottages

The fight to stop Islington Council pulling down Victorian houses took a new turn this week when a 250-strong band of residents whose homes ring the Packington Estate-which the council are demolishing to make way for six-storey flats-formed themselves into a preservation society.

They think the new £2 million housing scheme will spoil the 'Old English flavour of the neighbour­hood’,

Last week CouncIllor Paul Grant called for an inquiry into his borough’s housing policy because he felt they were knocking down hood houses when slums exit.

Mr. George_Grover, a chart­ered surveyor vvho Iives near the estate at Colman Fields,' is helping to head a 12-resident teamwhich will present the ‘preservaton’ caseto a public inquiry today.

He says: " It will cost the council £1¾  million to buy the Packington estate land and put up these ghastly flats.

Perfectly blended

“But it would cost them £l million to convert the estate houses into flats. And while they are p`ulling down houses which blend perfectly with the flavour of the area there are ugly slums in Islington which could well come down."

'file LCC has issued a state­ment saying that it considers conversion of the, old houses a better idea  than altering the character of the airea. The




Letter to the Lord Chancellor

A NEW inquiry into the Packington Estate redevelopment scheme has been de­manded by two prospective parliamentary Tory candidates for Islington, Mr. Michael Morris and Mr. Alan Hardy.

They made the de­mand in a letter to the Lord Chancellor which they took to the House of Lords on Friday morning. Their action follows last week's publication of a report from the Coun­cil on Tribunals, which criticised Mr. Richard Crossman, the Housing Minister, for his handl­ing of objections to the scheme.

The, which acts as a "public watchdog", alleged in its report to the Lord Chancellor that objectors to the scheme were less than fairly treated. "They (the objectors) were rightly allowed to con­test the first application and secured its rejection.  And the second application was so closely connected with the first that it was, in substance, a further stage in the same proceedings,  By being excluded at that stage altogether, the com­plainants, as the Council on Tribunals think, were less than fairly treated."

In their letter, Mr. Morris, a candidate for North Isling­ton, and Mr. Hardy, a candi­date for South West Isling­ton, said Mr. Crossman's decision not to take any action over the report was "a scandal." "It affects whatever claims to impartiality the present Minister may have," the letter said.


The council said that the objectors' real grievance was that they were not allowed to take part in proceedings when Islington council made a second application for re­development of the area.

The council's original re­development plans, the sub­ject of a five-day public in­quiry, were turned down by Mr. Crossman.
A further set of plans were approved by him, however, and work on clearing the site has already started.


In reply, Islington Council said that the objectors' real grievance was that they were not allowed to take part in proceedings when Islington council made a second application for re­development of the area.

The council's original re­development plans, the sub­ject of a five-day public inquiry, had been turned down by Mr. Crossman. However, a further set of plans were approved by him and work on clearing the site has already started.

Aid. E. J. W. Bayliss, chair­man of Islington's housing committee, said at the week­end: "This doesn't affect the council. It is a matter between the Council on Tribunals and the Minister. A reasonable area of the site has already been cleared and contracts for further clearance have been met."

Three Years later in 1968



Model of the New Estate Traffic-free homes grow

Model of the New Estate



Giant Cranes dominate the skyline as work goes ahead on Islington C'ouncil's 122-acre Packington Estate housing project which will provide homes for some 2,000 people. The estate consists of 27 blocks, each of six floors. Good progress is being made on the erection of three other blocks. The anticipated complection date for the scheme is January 31, 1970

Open space, in play areas and the landscaped squares takes the place of individual house gardens. Sections of several roads in the old estate have been closed and the new squares will be free from traffic. Access decks are at second-storey and fourth-storey levels.

The walk-way system will include footbridges over Packington Street. Wates Limited are the main contractors for the scheme which was designed by Mr. Harrv Moncrieff, of Co-operative Planning Ltd.

New Packington Estate in Islington

This is how the estate will look on completion in about two-and-a-half years' time. In this view looking south, Packington Street is seen running through the centre of the estate, with the bridge over the Grand Union Canal near the top left hand corner, and Prebend Street near the bottom right hand corner o f tire picture.

The people of Popham Street tenements are to be given the chance of new homes on Packington Estate, building of which is to start soon following approval of the scheme by Islington Council on Tuesday. They will find life on the new estate a far cry from the 90-year-old dismal dwellings which they now occupy. Instead, they will have modern, centrally-heated flats leading on to wide walkways, and overlooking traffic-free green squares where their children can play.

Nearly 540 new homes are to be provided on the new estate, which will cover a site of more than 12 acres bounded by Grand Union Canal on the south-east, by Rector Street, Union Square and Bevan Street on the north-east by Prebend Street in the north-west and Dame Street on the south-west.

There will be 727 three­bedroom flats, 201 two-bedroom flats, 177 one-bedroorn flats and 39 bed-sitting rooms.
The ground level will be from four to eight feet below Packington street and other surrounding roads and this has been suitably exploited in the design of the scheme.

Linton Street and St. Paul's Street will be flattened and the site will form one large space surrounded by roads at a higher level, with Packington Street cutting it in half.


All the fiats are to be in six-storey blocks. Each block will consist of two sandwiches of three-storeys. The middle of the sandwich will contain a walkway or deck via which entrance is gained to the flats.

All the flats will be built by industrialised building methods. The lower walkway will be generally at pavement level with gentle ramps where it runs slightly above. Lifts will be provided to reach the upper walkway so that mothers with babies will have no trouble in getting their prams up to their flats.

These Sandwich blocks are a development of the Scissors flats which Colin and Jennifer Jones designed for the LCC and themselves built privately in Fortis Green, Muswell Hill. Those who would like to know where the idea of one walkway giving access to more tan one level of flats or houses came from should click the link below

Link to The Growth of Muswell Hil pp.165-6

In The Packington Estate no windows will open on to walkways, so that privacy and quiet will be preserved. Most one-bedroom flats and all the bed-sitting room flats, many of which will be occupied by elderly people, will be at walkway level. Two and three-bedroom flats will have an entrance lobby with pram space at walkway level and a stair leading up or down to the home.

The Upper Walkways

Three external upper walkways will connect the two parts of the scheme, by means of bridges over Packington Street. Residents will therefore be able to reach shops, schools, transport and other facilities farther afield without the danger of crossing roads.

The scheme has been designed so that every home will overlook a green square where people can meet and sit and children can play.

Building the Community

This is more likely to create a sense of community than planning along streets or in tall blocks. The scale and character of the old Georgian squares has inspired this layout with one big difference there will be no traffic.

A person walking through the estate either at ground or walkway level, will be treated to a series of changing vistas as each green square opens up before him. Some matured trees will be incorporated into the landscaping of the area.
Great care has been taken by the architect, Mr. Harry Moncrieff, to preserve the scale of the buildings in the surrounding area.  As an example of this, the new development will be no more than nine feet higher than existing houses in Union Square.

The area between Arlington Avenue and the canal will be laid out as an open space, and it is proposed to have playgrounds there for older children. But the eventual layout will be influenced by the recommendations of a special committee which is now considering the future of the canal.

Additional parking facilities could be provided beneath this open space and thus allow one car space for every home on the estate.

Parking space

Under the present plan, there will be less than one parking space for every two homes: 66 garages will be provided under the blocks at the lower level. 84 cars will be parked under the shop area, and space will be provided above ground for a further 59 cars.

The eight lifts which will service the walkways will extend to the lower level, giving access to the parking area

In designing dwellings, the aim has been to secure a balanced community. Bedsitting rooms, one-, two- or three-bedroom fiats will all be incorporated in one block and many will be entered from the same walkway.

Older people can, after their family has grown up, move to a smaller flat without moving away. They might only need to move one doorway along the walkway, thus keeping close to their friends and relatives.

Each of the two- or three­bedroom dwellings will have two living-room spaces which can be used either separately or together, this is one of the recommendations in the report of the Parker Morris committee.

They will also have sitting space for watching television, talking, or just relaxing, and a dining space which could be used for homework, needlework and children's play.


The kitchen will be sited off the dining space. It will have fitted cupboards at high and low levels, larder and modern drying cabinet, plus ample space for cooker, refrigerator, washing machine and spin dryer. Linen and coat cupboards will also be provided in the flat, and every bedroom will have fitted wardrobes.All the flats above ground­floor level are to have private balconies facing either south­east, or south-west.

Eleven shops and a rent office are to form the small shopping precint, which will be centrally located in Packington Street. It will replace shops demolished or planned to be demolished under the scheme.

It was originally planned to have a public house to replace the Builders Arms public house in Dame Street which is being demolished, but the brewers decided not to come into the scheme so one of the shops will now be used as an off-licence.

Refuse chutes are to be situated, with hoppers on the walkways, near the lifts at the junctions of the various blocks. Central heating will be provided by nine oil burning boilers, each serving about 60 flats. In addition to being more economical than one large boiler house, this will also facilitate the handing over of blocks as they are completed.

Hot water will he supplied from a central plant. The council says that both heating and hot-water systems are the cheapest methods available and should result in "reasonable costs" to tenants. By making use for the first time of an industrialised building system the council will gain several advantages over traditional methods. Under the Wates system being used for the development, far greater use is made of the limited manpower available and the increased use of plant increases productivity.

All wet trades are eliminated and there is no dryingout period or shrinkage associated with traditional building. It has taken years of bitter debate and planning to bring Packington Estate into the foreseeable future but, as the diagrams and models show, a dream is now well on the way to becoming a reality.

The completed estate on the edge of the earlier Victorian house.


Rember Packington? That was the row that rumbled through London's Islington and finally exploded early in 1966, as a national battle between rehabilitation and redevelopment. In other parts of Islington owners were installing bathrooms, eradicating damp and restoring crumbling brickwork. The council-owned Packington Estate, with its pretty, early Victorian terraced houses, seemed an obvious candidate for this treatment. However, the borough opted for the bulldozer and the construction of blocks of flats, six storeys high, built round sunken grassy squares.

Now new Packington, at a cost of about £3,200,000, is well on the way to completion. The flats, designed by Harry Moncrieff of Co-operative Planning, are making more than acceptable, if more expensive, homes for emigrants from local slum tenements of traditional squalor.

On their own, the new blocks are not too bad. But as can be seen here they are out of scale, particularly with a decimated Union Square. And, with their access balconies and communal shared open space, they bear the indelible stamp of municipal homes, a label that old Packington restored would have quietly shrugged off.


When the Victorians built the earlier houses in the 1860s, they took advantage of the gravel soil. Gravel drains quickly, so basements stay dry and habitable. The builders dug out the basements and threw the gravel up in front of the houses to make the roads. This gave good roads and dry basements. This left the gardens behind the houses at the original field levels; the basements lower than the garden;, and the roads higher then the gardens.

When the Packington Estate houses were demolished and cleared, the sites were lower than the roads. This is why the Packingt Estate blocks start lower than the roads, a point which puzzles some people.


As The Estate Neared Completion a Newspaper Article Looked Back

In  1970, Chris Goodall asks

Was this estate ‘madness’ after all?

At one time it looked as if this model of the Packington Estate would be as far as the £2 million scheme would get off the drawing board. Supporters and opponents of the scheme argued for hour after hour at a marathon public inquiry in February 1965, Sir Milner Holland, chairman of the committee that produced a shock report on housing in London, put Islington’s case. The controversy came to a head when the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, Mr. Richard Crossman, decided not to accept the advice of the inquiry inspector an immediate go-ahead.


A Newspaper Reaction in 1970 after the estate had been built

Packington today: The arguments are over and families are moving in.

In 1970 the Packington Estate, Islington's most controversial housing scheme, is complete. Many of the 538 flats are now occupied and the place is beginning to take on a ‘lived in appearance'. A newcomer to Islington might assume Packington to be just another large council estate.


But to those of us who lived through the hectic days in the early and mid-sixties when the Packington was first conceived the completion of the estate's 538 flats is an occasion of some significance.

Looking back to those early days of the scheme's history my first reaction is to express surprise that the project ever got off the drawing board. Remember the headlines of those times? “Packington plan is madness, says the councilor” and “Minister's veto shatters council's hopes.”

Seldom can a housing scheme have provoked such violent reactions. Indeed, I cannot help reflecting all the time that the time and energy that was spent on opposing the Packington had been channeled into homes we might we might not have 10,000 on the housing list today.

I have no intention of raking over all the old arguments. However, reading through what was said five and six years ago, I realised how much of the vast volume of criticism was directed NOT at the architects' plans but at what was considered the prohibitive cost of redevelopment. The opponents of the scheme favoured rehabilitation as a cheaper and more desirable alternative.

The existing Victorian homes “lended themselves to modernization at reasonable cost” we were told. It was “madness” to spend £2 million on building 538 homes. Five years on, Batchelor Street and Barnsbury Street later, the arguments of the rehabilitators don't sound so convincing. Anyone who has attended a meeting of the council's town planning and development committee knows that in many cases rehabilitation IS more expensive than redevelopment.


Each and every one of us will have to make up our minds about Packington. Having said that, I can't help feeling that Alderman Bayliss, the man who as chairman of the housing committee bore the brunt of the onslaught, may think it was all worth while.

Details if the Estate for the Record

Architect of the Packington Estate was Mr. Harry Montcrieff of Co-operative Planning Ltd. The main contractor was Wates Construction Ltd.

Packington was the council's first industrialized building project. All the 538 flats are in six-storey blocks with the entrances to each home opening on to walkways at pavement level and third-floor level. Basic design of the scheme – with blocks set in squares and excluding traffic – was inspired by Georgian squares with the idea of giving adults and children room to meet, sit and play.

The architect, with the intention of fostering a community spirit, incorporated in each block different types of accommodation – bed-sitters, one, two and three bedroom flats. There are nine oil fired boilers providing central heating and hot water.

An on-site factory produced all the pre-cast walls, floors and staircases.


NOVEMBER 30, 1964

Here's how Packington will look
This, above, is what a typical part of the new Packing­ton Estate will look like.

The Minister of Housing last week gave Islington Coun­cil the go-ahead for its Packington plans.

Alderman Ernest Bayliss, chairman of the housing commit­tee, said that 600 flats will be built there, possibly within three years.

The new design is a slightly modified version of the one rejected by the Minister after a February inquiry. The Minister said then that the facts he had been given were not detailed enough for him to judge the quality of the pro­posed scheme. So the architect, Mr. Harry Moncrieff, built a model (pictured above), and the council gave the Minister more information.


Now a Ministry statement says: "With regard to the de­sign and layout, the scheme generally will provide an at­tractive and worthwhile hous­ing development which will in no way detract from the char­acter and amenities of the sur­rounding area." But it goes on to say that two proposed shops at the Union Square-Bevan Street junction should be left out, as they might make the place look untidy.

The approved scheme is dif­ferent from earlier proposals in six ways.

Buildings have been set back from the Regents Canal frontage- "to safeguard the line of the proposed highway there." That area will now be used for public open space and car parking. The flats will be transferred to the area next to Prebend Street which was originally meant to be used as open space.


The Bevan Street blocks will be set back from the road, and will have a grass area In front of them. The appearance of the build­ings will be more simple. The outside walls will be faced with a pinkish-brown rough finish. Unglazed white mosaic will cover the balcony fronts, and grey/blue mosaic on the back walls of the walk­ways (the covered passages to link all buildings).


Two-bedroom and three-bed­room flats will have private staircases from entrance doors on the walkways. The new Packington estate will be built by industrialised techniques - that is, a lot of the parts and materials will be made at a factory on the site. So time and transport expenses will be saved. The cost will be about £2­million, and something like 1,600 people will be housed in the 45 twelve-flat units.


More than 200 flats on the estate will be of one bedroom, or a bed-sitting room. These will mainly be for old people, and as the diagram shows, will be located at walkway level.
Lay-out for two and three-bedroom flats shows how the dining room is centrally situated with kitchen and sitting rooms on either side. Also leading off the dining room is the private balcony overlooking a green square.

Islington Gazette January 6, 1967

The four designs of the flat which are interspersed to form the blocks
so that families of different sizes can live near each other.





Many of the 1960s dwellings had built-in design faults. Slab built blocks and the fears caused by the gas explosion at Ronan Point; flat roofs, faulty wiring, and problems due to lack of thought about security and building in privacy for the tenants.

Tenants groups had protested about these design faults in this type of building up and down the country and demanded improvements. The 1990 generation of architects was to spend much time and treasure correcting the faults of the hurried work of the 1960s. At this time these hastily erected, factory-built buildings had seemed to be the future, but there were troubles ahead.

In 1990 a Feasibility Report was commissioned to look into all aspects of the design of Packington Estate.

A. Entry Security to prevent outsiders from entering the blocks. Entry phones and security doors were important here.
B. Putting on Pitched Roofs because the asphalt on the flat roofs had failed.
C Removing the walkways between the flats. These had become easy escape routes for petty thieves.
D. Fencing off small private gardens where possible to provide more security and control, in place of anonymous spaces open to all.
E. New lifts, etc.


The Packington Estate consists of approximately 500 dwellings, built using pre-cast concrete panels in six storey form spanning Packington Street with high level walkways to link the two sides of the development. The housing units start at lower ground floor level and have access decks at ground and third floor level. Each deck gives access to three floors of dwellings with one storey, two storey, and three storey dwellings all starting at the same level. Generally the Estate is in reasonable repair and is structurally sound. The landscaping is fairly mature, if space in some areas.


The Six-storey Packington Blocks are an interesting development of the Scissors flats which were designed by Colin and Jennifer Jones. I have written about them in the Growth of Muswell Hill, p 170-5.

Scissors flats, which were built privately in Fortis Green, Muswell Hill, and later by the L.C.C. all over London, are economical to build. Most flats are built as floors, but in Scissors Flat,s two layers of flats have only one access corridor, which saves a lot of money. Front doors are side by side, but one door leads up a half-floor to one flat and the next leads down a half-floor to the second. The flats are wrapped round each other, rather like the arrangement of a Victorian Bye-law house. There are examples of L.C.C. scissors flats in Malden Road, Camden, Penfold Street, Marylebone, and many other districts.

In a street of three-storey houses, all three floors can be reached from street level by internal staircases.

The six-storey Packington Estate blocks are like two rows of three-storey houses, one on top of the other. There are one bedroom flats, two bedroom flats, and three-bedroom houses, all with front doors side by side at ground level; and at fourth-floor level. Only two access levels are needed for six floors of dwellings, which is an even more economical way of building than scissors flats.

To return to the 1990 Feasbility Report.

Packington Street is wide, dividing the two estates and requires much in the way of improvement to the hard landscaped areas. The Estate is served by a small shopping centre, built at the same time and is in a very run down condition. The Estate wraps around garden courts at the lower level with small private gardens to some dwellings and bedrooms face directly on to these public areas. Garaging and parking are also at this level, served by ramped access.

There are a minimum number of lifts which serve lower ground, ground and third floor level, which in turn link the whole Estate together at two levels, thus allowing easy access to anyone throughout these deck levels. The lift entrance foyers are very mean and dark with drainage problems around the open access ways, creating further problems with the lift gear. Car parking is uncontrolled except for individual 'autopak' type arrangements.

The Brief

To improve security and break down the Estate into more manageable units, limiting the number of dwellings served by one entry point. This was to be combined with general upgrading to the lift system and finishes generally. The landscaped areas and shopping centre to be brought into the study to suggest areas of improvement and upgrading.


The initial study to introduce entryphone installation at the lift/stair junction throughout, gave up to 84 dwellings/entrance, which was considered excessive and did not give the degree of breakdown required.

The second study, which resulted in the formation of 7 new lift/stair towers, gave 42 per entrance which was acceptable but the cost of these proposals were considered prohibitive.

The third solution considered was to introduce two new shafts and one staircase, together with splitting the access to the upper and lower decks. This gives numbers of between 12 and 34 per entry-phone which was considered acceptable. The additional entry-phone lobby arrangements contain additional refuse points to help eliminate the overused chute system.

This principle has been expanded in more detail on the Northern section of the Estate adjacent to Packington Square which we have designated as Phase 1 of the project.

The proposals include the following security measures:

  1. Entryphone entrance with new enclosed lobbies.
  2. Extended and fenced rear gardens.
  3. New lift installation.
  4. Upgrading of floor/walls finishes in lift enclosures.
  5. Barrier control and increased security fencing to garage /carports.
  6. Improved landscape and external works.
  7. Removal of high level street crossing decks.
  8. Additional refuse container points.

Proposals put forward also include the formation of pitched roofs and the complete enclosure of access walkways. These measures would greatly enhance the appearance of the Estate as well as giving a long lasting roof finish. The glazed balconies would make all space beyond the lift door enclosed and hopefully ensure less abuse and misuse, as well as giving protection from the weather, especially at the upper deck level. All decks face approximately north and are not very pleasant or generous in floor area. The 'dead' ends of these balconies could be made use of and given over to individual tenants. Metal planters to the balconies are suggested, to break down the long horizontal white mosaic covered bands.


The principles have been outlined to representatives of the Tenants Association, who are broadly in agreement with the proposals. It is intended to have further meetings with the residents of the first phase. The local police have commented favourbaly on the proposals, which have also been forwarded to the Fire Officer for his comments.


It is intended to invite tenders in August with a view to commencing works in January 1990.

This and the other drawings were drawn in colour which cannot be recognised
in this black and white reduction.
Therefore the letters above have been added to explain the drawings.

New Entrance and staircase to lift tower

View of Packington Square showing removal of walkways,
balcony enclosures and the new pitched roofs.

At present I do not know what happened to these proposals. Were they carried out?

Secondly, I do not know when and why the estate was sold to Hyde (a private firm) or who decided to rebuild it. I have contacted the Islington Planners and Thomas, Pollard and Edwards, who are the architects doing the work and await replies.



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