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Angel Wings are saved as Olivia, 10, takes on Angel Central developers at town hall – and wins

PUBLISHED: 16:17 08 June 2018 | UPDATED: 17:10 06 July 2018

Olivia Gordon Clarke and her friends protesting on the steps of the town hall. Picture: Siorna Ashby

Olivia Gordon Clarke and her friends protesting on the steps of the town hall. Picture: Siorna Ashby

Archant

A 10-year-old girl has beaten developers in the battle to save Islington Central’s “beautiful” Angel Wings sculpture, after councillors voted her way on Thursday.

The Angel Wings. Picture: Lucas CumiskeyThe Angel Wings. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

Olivia Gordon Clarke gave a three-minute speech to the council planning committee, which also heard from Angel Central and planning officers before voting to defer the application.

The committee liked most of the changes put forward in the planning application, which include more parking spaces, improved stairs and new restaurants or cafes.

But they told Angel Central to find a suitable place to move the sculpture, preferably within a quarter of a mile – otherwise, the wings must stay put.

“My petition has shown this is not what Islington residents want, as everyone I spoke to loved the wings and sees them as a public landmark,” said Olivia in an impassioned speech to the chamber.

“You are the last hope of the people to save the wings. Please can you the planning committee reject this proposal and listen to the people of Islington?”

She added: “Please ask developers to submit a new plan which keeps the Angel Wings and does not harm public space.”

Olivia ended her presentation to loud applause from the public and councillors.

One woman, who also objected to the plans, said: “Do not remove something from the area that has support and gives it identity.”

A man called Paul, who lives nearby, objected to the development due to the size of the new shops, the extra noise pollution and the alleged loss of parking space for residents.

He said: “Deliveries go through the night, which would cause the residents a huge amount of inconvenience.

“Then there is the loss of the parking area. We regularly drive all over Islington to find somewhere to park and this will only increase issues for us.”

He claimed no one had spoken to him about the plans. But the developers said they had conducted extensive consultation and the the work would preserve 500 jobs and create 100 more.

A spokesman told the chamber: “If you turned on your TV this morning, you have seen House of Fraser is closing down 31 stores.

“There is a lot of pain in the retail industry. Brexit hangs heavy over all of us and this investment is an extremely rare good news story in this environment.”

Olivia Gordon Clarke and her friends protesting on the steps of the town hall. Picture: Siorna AshbyOlivia Gordon Clarke and her friends protesting on the steps of the town hall. Picture: Siorna Ashby

He said the development would make a grey, dated area with crime problems more open and modern.

This would entail replacing “dated” materials like timber with new materials like terracotta.

Angel Central wants to replace the wings with a piece from local art collective Troika, which styles itself as a “collaborative, contemporary arts practice”.

But Cllr Paul Convery (Lab, Caledonian) wasn’t convinced.

“The proposed replacement doesn’t really strike me as public art,” he said. “Frankly, it looks more like an advertising screen.”

He added: “For almost everybody under the age of 20-something, the wings have been a permanent landmark for all their recollectable lives.

“They provide permanence and a sense of place and chopping and changing things that people hold dear creates a sense of transience.”

The Angel Wings in numbers. Graphic: Lucas CumiskeyThe Angel Wings in numbers. Graphic: Lucas Cumiskey

The developers said it would be much easier for them if they if they didn’t have to relocate the sculpture, which is 15 metres high and 18m wide.

The spokesman said: “It weighs an astonishing 12 tonnes, the same as a double decker bus.

“If we can deliver the investment without having to move the wings it will make our lives much easier.”

But in the end Olivia’s concerted campaign to save the wings, which involved door-knocking to drum up support and a petition gathering 2214 signatures, that won the day.

Cllr Jenny Kay (Lab, Mildmay) said the plans were lacking in detail and that she wanted clear safeguards put in place to preserve the wings.

She said: “I just don’t feel there has been enough detail provided to us, considering it has been 18 months.”

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