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Islington Council launches legal challenge over Arsenal tower plans

17:22 12 November 2012

What tower would have looked like from the Emirates Stadium

What tower would have looked like from the Emirates Stadium

Archant

Town hall bosses are to launch legal action against Arsenal’s controversial skyscraper – amid fears the mammoth tower could “open the floodgates” to more tall buildings.

Islington Council has announced it is seeking to block Arsenal’s plans to build a 25-storey tower block next to the Emirates Stadium by mounting a last-ditch court challenge.

The development would stand 78 metres tall in Hornsey Road, Holloway, and was granted planning permission on appeal last month, but the council believes there is a good chance of reversing that decision.

Councillors argue the planning inspector responsible has ignored Islington’s planning policy that states tall buildings should only be constructed in certain areas such as Finsbury.

Cllr Andy Hull, a Labour member for Highbury West ward, said: “We’re making a strong challenge because this is not in keeping with our planning policy. If the planning inspector is allowed to ignore the policy, it would mean there’s no point in having one – so we need to defend it.”

He added: “If you let this happen it sets a precedent. There’s a danger that if we allow one tall building, that will get used next time as a reason to allow another one. We don’t want to open the floodgates.”

The move has been welcomed by the vast numbers of residents who oppose the plans. Chris Eisen, of nearby Drayton Park, who co-ordinates the Stadium Neighbours Action Group (SNAG), said: “Residents will be very pleased if the council succeeds. The height of the tower is completely out of keeping with the area and we have always been opposed to it.”

While the planning inspector, John Braithwaite, approved the 25-storey design, he rejected second 16-storey proposal for the same site that Arsenal also submitted. The council had initially rejected both schemes.

Ms Eisen added: “The fact that the inspector approved a 25-storey one but turned down a 16-storey version is just ridiculous.”

An Arsenal spokesman said the club was aware of the appeal but declined to comment any further.

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