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Decision on future of Union Chapel deferred again

PUBLISHED: 15:35 13 December 2012 | UPDATED: 15:35 13 December 2012

Gig promoter Pete Stapleton outside the Union Chapel. Picture: Dieter Perry

Gig promoter Pete Stapleton outside the Union Chapel. Picture: Dieter Perry

Dieter Perry

The Union Chapel – one of the country’s leading concert venues – is going to fight for its future until the last minute.

Its future is still hanging in the balance after Islington Council yet again failed to come to a decision on whether to allow 90 homes to be built on the chapel’s doorstep.

The council had been due to decide on December 4 whether to allow Notting Hill Housing to build two buildings up to five storeys high on the site of the former Highbury Ford car showroom in Canonbury Road, Islington.

But the decision was deferred – for a second time.

The Union Chapel, a church, concert venue and homeless centre in Compton Avenue, Islington, which was this year voted best music venue in London by Time Out readers and has attracted stars such as Elton John and Tom Jones to its stage, is worried about its future if planning permission is granted.

The Union Chapel, which has mustered some 14,000 signatures in an online petition against the development, has now pledged to fight until the last minute.

It wants Notting Hill Housing to pay for soundproofing so residents of the new flats are not disturbed, it wants a loading bay so it can continue to load performance equipment without blocking the road, and it wants the size of the development reduced so views of the Grade I-listed chapel are not obscured.

Philip Walker, chairman of The Canonbury Society and of the Union Chapel Project – which runs the gigs, said: “They are giving us money for soundproofing. The loading bay is a little bit more of an issue but we are hoping that we are going to be able to get that.

“We are still worried about how these very huge buildings will be built next to a listed building and how 90 households will be served by a very narrow lane.

“Hopefully the deferral will give us more time to argue our case.”

The meeting was previously deferred in November because Islington Council wanted more than 50 per cent affordable housing.

It was, however, satisfied that the activities of the Union Chapel would be “safeguarded” and that the heritage objections would be “overcome”.

Notting Hill Housing, which has already reduced the proposed scheme from 134 to 90 homes, said it was “disappointed” the decision had been deferred once more.

A spokeswoman continued: “We are continuing our discussions with the council on the provision of sound insulation for the Union Chapel and have provided additional information relating to our proposed affordable housing on this project.”

Cllr Robert Khan, chairman of Islington Council’s planning committee, said the decision had been deferred as it was felt “more time was needed to look at the issues raised by the committee in November”.

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