Golden Lane estate residents slam tower block plans

Residents fear council home and school development will plunge their homes into darkness

Friday, 18th August 2017 — By Rachel Banning-Lover

Golden Lane estate plans

An artist impression of the plans, which residents can comment on until Thursday

PLANS to build a school and tower block on Grade II-listed Golden Lane estate have been condemned by residents who fear the development will plunge their homes into darkness.

At a public meeting to discuss final designs for the site, more than 50 residents voiced concerns about the impact of the project on the estate, which straddles the border between the City of London and Islington.

An overwhelming majority voted in favour of a motion warning that the site is “overdeveloped”.

A Hatfield House resident said: “My main concern is the loss of sunlight and the impact on the allotment next to where the tower will be.” Others feared their homes would lose “more than 50 per cent” of their sunlight.

Bunhill ward councillor Claudia Webbe has welcomed the plans, which include 66 new homes – all for social rent – a two- form entry school, City of London Primary Academy Islington, and a nursery on the site formerly occupied by Richard Cloudesley School.

Islington has 19,000 households on its housing waiting list. It says there is a pressing need for school places in the south of the borough.

The City of London Corporation will take over ownership of the site, but the council will be able to put people on Islington’s housing waiting list in half of the new properties.

At last Thursday’s meeting, residents complained that the councils were not taking seriously the heritage of the estate designed by architects Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, who went on to design the Barbican.

Lesley Stapleton, 62, who lived on the estate for 20 years and still regularly visits her parents there, said: “A tower will ruin what the original architects wanted for this estate – a utopia.

“My family moved into our flat in the 1960s and I grew up here and there really was this brilliant community. There was a camera club and I did ballet in this community hall.

“Old bomb sites were turned into parks – there was so much green space, lots of rose bushes – but over the years buildings have been shoehorned in.”

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, who attended the meeting, added: “This is a Grade II-listed estate, considered one of the most important post-war examples of social housing. If this was a Georgian or Victorian estate that they were proposing a tower next to, there is no way planning permission would be granted.”

A number of residents also raised concerns about the height of the 14- storey tower block.

Clem Cecil, who has lived on the estate for seven years, said the plan goes against Islington’s policy for the area, which stipulates that only low- and mid-rise buildings can be built on surrounding streets.

In the light of the Grenfell Tower disaster, fire safety was raised as a “serious concern”. Charles Humphries, an architect who led the meeting, said that, while the building will have sprinklers, there would be only a single staircase.

In the event of a fire on their floor, residents would be forced to crawl along a single access balcony past the potential fire to get to the stairwell, he said.

Mr Humphries added: “Local schools are undersubscribed. The need for schools is in Holloway and Finsbury Park – not in the south of the borough. This is a money-making exercise by the council.”

A council spokesman said: “This planning application is open to consultation, and we welcome all responses relating to planning matters.”

People have until Thursday to comment on the planning application.

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