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Developer given green light to redevelop Finsbury block at second attempt

PUBLISHED: 15:56 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:52 12 October 2018

Laser House at the junction of Goswell Road and Pear Tree Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Laser House at the junction of Goswell Road and Pear Tree Street. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

A controversial three-storey extension to a block in Finsbury was approved despite opposition from neighbours who say the area is starting to resemble Canary Wharf.

Neighbours of Laser House at the junction of Goswell Road and Pear Tree Street. From left: Sonia Rai, Christophe Mignard, Simone Y, Howard Lichterman, Michael Ratcliffe, Catherine Boone, Peter Trubowitz and Shaokat Ali. Picture: Polly HancockNeighbours of Laser House at the junction of Goswell Road and Pear Tree Street. From left: Sonia Rai, Christophe Mignard, Simone Y, Howard Lichterman, Michael Ratcliffe, Catherine Boone, Peter Trubowitz and Shaokat Ali. Picture: Polly Hancock

Northern and Midlands Holdings got the go-ahead to partially demolish and redevelop the Goswell Road site on Tuesday after their previous designs were rejected last year.

The main reasons for the snub was loss of light to neighbouring properties and privacy concerns – but the planning officer and committee members agreed the revised plans, which have removed lift shafts and reduced the land area and height area of the build, are now acceptable.

Perhaps most crucially, developers this week committed to installing automated blinds on the property – and committee members stressed their approval is conditional on this promise being executed.

When it came to objections, eleven hands were raised but only three people allowed to speak.

Susan Bergan said: “A year of consultation with residents and only a few of our suggestions have been accepted. Thirty-eight objections were received in response to this planning application – the report has significant omissions.

“Privacy and light pollution are still unacceptable.

As reported in the Gazette, a contingent on neighbours have fought developers at every stage of the planning process. Earlier this year they lost a battle to stop an immersive theatre show taking place in the building.

Lisa Gibbard, of Silverdale Court, which neighbours Laser House, said: “The revised proposal is of limited benefit to those [living] in Silverdale Court.

“It fails to address the original reasons for this being rejected.”

Speaking on behalf of the developers, Jacob Loftus said: “Our previous application was refused for a single reason: sunlight.

“Over the last 12 months we have substantially reduced extensions – we have improved design quality. 
“As you have heard this evening, despite changes we have made, we are aware residents continue to be concerned and that’s why, already this week, we have committed to automated blinds.”

Cllr Claudia Webbe (Lab, Bunhill) said Laser House was “one ugly building” and something needed to happen to the site.

But her main concern was the provision of affordable workspace and “peppercorn” (or very low) rent levels.

She asked: “How is this developer going to be a good neighbour and give back to the community?”

Mr Loftus said the plans were fully compliant with the council policy.

Committee chair Cllr Martin Klute (Lab, St Peter’s) concluded: “It seems very clear to me the issue of light pollution has been dealt with quite effectively by the proposal of automatic blinds.

“To my mind this application hinges around day light issues and design issues – and to my mind the design has improved.”

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