Our estate, the movie set? We just want you to fix our boilers, say residents
People living on iconic Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate say they are more likely to see a film crew than a repair team
07 December, 2017 — By William McLennan
The estate in Rowley Way [Photo: Oxyman]
RESIDENTS of a council estate which has become one of the most sought-after locations for film-makers say they are sick of their homes appearing on the big screen while they suffer with broken heating and “decaying pipework.”
Neighbours at the Alexandra and Ainsworth estate – also known as Rowley Way – in Swiss Cottage, which was used as a backdrop in major cinema releases including Kingsman, 28 Day Later and Breaking And Entering, have banded together after becoming increasingly frustrated by what they view as a lack of investment and maintenance.
They wrote to the New Journal this week after a boiler broke down over the weekend in a continuation of what they say has been a two-year saga of faults and problems.
Polena Barbagallo, who lives on the estate with her six-year-old twins, said: “It’s a listed estate that has won so many architecture awards. The structure is used in so many adverts right now, we have people filming here ever day. Some of the money goes to Camden and we get money to have a firework display. Underneath all that the structure is decaying – we have old water pipes.”
Architect Neave Brown was awarded Britain’s top architecture prize, the RIBA gold medal, for his work designing council homes including the low-rise estate in Rowley Way. The complaint about faults comes as Camden Council search for a company to run their film service, which collects fees from film crews shooting in the borough.
Current contractor Filmfixer openly markets the estate to film crews on behalf of the council, describing it in the sales blurb as being “known for its unique and futuristic appearance”, adding that “the estate provides a variety of potential locations”. Several television dramas including London Spy, Spooks, Silent Witness and Prime Suspect have shot scenes on its iconic walkways and balconies.
Breaking And Entering
Ms Barbagallo said: “The estate badly needs overall funding and investment and most people, I am sure, would welcome that regardless of it being public or private funds, they just want a better standard of living. The stories I have heard so far are appalling for 2017 in the UK.” In the past week they have set up the Rowley Way Action Group and signed up 41 members.
Resident Sian Sangster said: “Since moving into Rowley Way in 2012, there have been constant issues with the heating and hot water.” Ms Sangster said her two young children were “regularly ill because of how cold the flat is”.
Another resident who wrote to the New Journal this week said she had been without heating since November 8.
Town Hall housing chief Councillor Meric Apak said: “I would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused to Rowley Way residents last weekend. This was caused by a number of leaks in the heating pipework that required the system to be turned off whilst the repairs were undertaken. Extensive repairs have been carried out and we are checking every home to make sure it has heating and hot water. Our contractors are also currently undertaking work to improve the reliability of the heating system. Furthermore much of the affected pipework is due for replacement next year once planning and procurement processes have been completed.”
Movie makers give council £2.5 million to film in Camden
THE company that manages film-makers wanting to use the iconic streets of Camden as a backdrop has given Camden Council £2.5million since 2014.
Council chiefs are deciding what to do when the current contract with Filmfixer Ltd, a private firm who collect fees and deal with the logistics of having film crews take over public places, expires in May.
Some of the most successful movies to hit the big screen in recent years have been filmed in Camden, including Harry Potter in King’s Cross and the Paddington series in Primrose Hill.
A report into the running of the service during the four-and-a-half-year contract states: “During this period, the total sales and revenue for Camden Council has been £2.5m and a surplus value of £330k for Camden has been achieved.”
The report said that a surplus of “£110k was generated for Camden Council” last year.
The presence of film crews outside people’s homes has been a consistent source of complaint in recent years, with residents in historic Lincoln’s Inn saying they felt under siege from film crews.
This week, neighbours in the Alexandra and Ainsworth estate said they were sick of seeing their homes used as a filming location, while they suffered at the hands of failing boilers and crumbling infrastructure.
According to a report considered by Town Hall cabinet councillors last night (Wednesday), the new contract will include “strong and robust protocols to mitigate the impact of filming on local communities”.
It added: “These clear protocols will ensure residents, businesses and ward members should be consulted and the contract will introduce new requirements for strategic resident engagement throughout the life of the contract to gauge qualitative feedback.” Camden Council intends to reissue the contract to a private firm and the report said that running the service in-house would “require a significant investment in resources and technology and would require in-depth expertise in film service management not readily available in the council”.
They said that “an in-house Camden film service would require at least £250k annual salary commitment to operate effectively at the level of the current supplier”.