UK Housing Wiki

View of the Packington Estate's slab blocks, showing the lower-level lawned gardens and play area

View down the length of Packington Square, looking south east with the Broadgate Tower development clearly visible in the distance.

The Packington Estate is a council estate in Islington, North London. It lies on the northern side of the Regent's Canal, a short distance due east of Angel tube station and the Upper Street shopping and entertainment district.

The Packington was built in the mid 1960's on a site formerly occupied by Victorian terraced housing. It comprises 538 flats or maisonettes arranged in six-storey slab blocks, built using the large-panel construction method. The estate is arranged around Packington Square, actually a street running roughly northwest-southeast through the estate and then via a footbridge over the canal. The slab blocks surround Packington Square but are set back from the street allowing space for lawned gardens, which are recessed one storey below ground level.

In the centre of the estate is a small arcade of shops including a supermarket.

In 2003 the Packington achieved notoriety when it became publicly known that the estate did not meeting building regulations imposed in the early 1970s. These regulations forbade the installation of gas systems in buildings of six storeys or more where those buildings were of certain construction types, including that used to build the Packington. The regulations were introduced in the wake of the Ronan Point disaster in Newham, East London in 1968, which was caused by a gas explosion in a tower block. Since the Packington was non-compliant, all gas cookers were removed and replaced with electric ones. All copper pipe work used for carrying gas was removed,new iron barrell pipes were installed just feeding the boilers, an automatic shut off valve was installed connected to a gas detector and a carbon monoxide detector. Which means if there is ever a gas leak or release of carbon monoxide the complete gas system shuts down. It was then decided to service the gas systems quartely instead of annually. There is an onsite Gas management team run by Kier Islington looking after all gas safety and maintenance, this has been in place since 2003 and will remain until the estate is demolished. Since this time, plans have been announced to transfer ownership of the estate to Hyde Housing Association, with a view to its redevelopment. The transfer passed a residents' ballot and is scheduled to complete in 2007. Redevelopment, which will involve the construction of 538 new, replacement homes, is expected to start shortly thereafter.

Architecturally, the Packington is of somewhat unusual appearance, with the gigantic slabs used to construct it giving the impression that the estate is almost "kit built". It is also somewhat unusual among council estates of its age in that it is at least partially integrated into the pre-existing streetplan, with Packington Square running over the canal bridge into Shepherdess Walk, to the south, and the line of St. Paul Street (running east-west across the estate) preserved with a pedestrian walkway. Spaces within the estate are also relatively wide and open, and this, combined with the large number of non-residents who walk through the estate on their way to or from the City of London and Shoreditch, gives the estate a less isolated or intimidating feel than many similar schemes. However, the estate arguably has a less than benign effect on Bevan Street, immediately to its east, whose west side is dominated by the sheer wall of the estate's slab blocks. Eastwards from Bevan Street runs a small district of Victorian terraced housing of similar design to that cleared for the Packington. These houses have since become sought after by urban buyers, particularly as they are within walking distance of the City of London.