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Bid to redevelop Holloway’s National Youth Theatre runs into trouble

An artist's impression of how a new rear courtyard might look An artist's impression of how a new rear courtyard might look

Friday, December 13, 2013
9:17 AM

A £10million redevelopment plan to keep a prestigious junior theatre in Islington – which helped launch the career of James Bond star Daniel Craig – has been slammed by residents.

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The National Youth Theatre (NYT), in Holloway Road, which also worked with Daniel Day-Lewis and Dame Helen Mirren in their formative years, has been in Holloway since 1987, but is considering moving from its current dilapidated premises.

Concerns

Local businessman Tom Shutes has stepped in with a bold plan to redevelop the 12,900sq ft “run-down” surrounding area and turn it into a cultural quarter, complete with 80 flats and courtyards for cafés and markets.

The scheme is set to go 
before an Islington Council planning committee on January 16, but some residents are opposed to the “horrid development”.

John Uden, who lives in nearby Mercers Road, said: “Many residents are worried that it is a badly designed, unimaginative scheme.

“There are too many buildings jammed into one space.

“The high buildings will block out sunlight and the expansion of the rehearsal rooms will cause noise pollution for those who live close by.

“Tom Shutes is hiding 
behind the guise of helping the youth theatre. What he is really concerned about is making a profit.”

Bryan Healing, who lives in Tufnell Park Road, said: “The developers want to rent out the space to commercial businesses. This will not be good for Tufnell Park Road, which is a residential area. I don’t think that many people who live here would want it to be turned into a commercial site. I do not want my road being used as an 
entrance point to a large development.

“The height of the buildings is very worrying. One does not want a six-storey building opposite their house”.

Cllr David Wilson, who represents St George’s ward which covers the NYT, said: “Neighbours have raised a number of objections and that is what the council is going to have to consider at the planning committee.

“The knock-on effect of the scale of the development and the amount of flats is that it will be intrusive for the neighbours.”

Mr Shutes said: “Holloway Road is a fantastically positioned part of London that is often overlooked and undervalued. Maximising the potential of the location will be an important contribution to the local culture of Islington.

“I am passionately committed to keeping the NYT on the site. They do a lot of important work in the area and deserve a greater prominence on Holloway Road.”

Meanwhile, Paul Roseby, chief executive and artistic director of the NYT, has expressed his “unequivocal support” for the plans.

He said: “The proposals represent an exciting and unique opportunity to support the long-term future of the NYT.

“We are proud of the value the organisation brings to Islington. We have been based at Holloway Road for the past 25 years and it is a recognisable asset and home for the NYT.”

Cllr Tracy Ismail, who also represents St George’s ward, said: “It would be a huge shame for the community if we lost the NYT.

“Islington is a bohemian place with lots of interesting people: actors, directors, writers and artists. If it goes it would be a loss for Islington’s art scene.

“To have something built on that site will be good for the area. It’s a very large plot with a lot of very run-down buildings”.

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