An artists' community at the heart of one of London's most violent slums ...
The Hillview estate refurbishment in Kings Cross eventually won a top London housing renovation award.
As renewal campaign manager, John Cranna coordinated a programme to have one of London’s most notorious housing estates spared from demolition and turned into a highly innovative housing cooperative.
The successful renovation of the Hillview estate, located in King's Cross, eventually won the London ‘Evening Standard’ award for best housing coop renovation in London.
The Hillview estate was one of London’s most notorious estates, with chronic gang violence, drug addiction and prostitution problems on the estate. John Cranna co-ordinated the clean-up of the estate, and then as Hillview Campaign Manager, worked with a number of groups to bring about a new lease on life for the estate. The estate housed some 500 residents in 230 flats, made up of Victorian tenement buildings. It was home to a number of writers, film makers, visual artists, photographers and musicians. These included several artists of international stature, such as the rock group The Pogues, and film maker Sally Potter.
Success was achieved by recruiting the support of a variety of community leaders; the leader of the Greater London Council, Ken Livingstone; and the backing of Prince Charles, who was active in the community architecture movement. The campaign also received major media support and the collaboration of one of the UK’s most successful community architecture firms, Hunt Thompson Associates.
Over a ten year campaign, Hillview residents were successful in ridding the estate of vice, of instituting a successful housing cooperative management structure, and finessing the multi-million pound refurbishment of the estate.