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Government rejects pleas for help from Golden Lane Estate campaigners

PUBLISHED: 11:03 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 11:03 24 July 2017

Children and parents in Fortune Street Park are concerned the new development will block the sunlight from the park. Picture: Polly Hancock

Children and parents in Fortune Street Park are concerned the new development will block the sunlight from the park. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Campaigners have been dealt a huge blow in their bid to stop a luxury housing block “ruining” their historic estate after the government snubbed their calls for help.

Bernard Morgan House. Picture: Polly Hancock Bernard Morgan House. Picture: Polly Hancock

People living on the Grade-II listed Golden Lane Estate, which straddles the Islington and City border, feel the development of a 10-storey private block would destroy its design, which is revered by architects the world over for its “urban village” concept.

After City planners ignored Islington Council and MP Mark Field to approve the project, campaigners wrote to communities secretary Sajid Javid asking him to call it in for review. But now they have been knocked back by him too.

Government planning manager Dave Jones wrote in his rejection that after reading policy on what kind of decisions should be called in, Mr Javid had decided against it. He said: “He [Mr Javid] is content that it should be determined by the local planning authority.”

But campaigners, who also feel the building would cast a shadow over Fortune Street Park and Prior Western Community School – both in Islington – say the unusual make-up of the City makes normal government policy redundant.

Emma Matthews said: “The City does not work in the same way as all other local authorities. Almost all the 7,000 residents live in just four wards – most in Cripplegate’s Barbican and Golden Lane estates.

“Residents have only 20 elected councillors and the other 80 are elected by City businesses. Thus planning and other decisions are dominated by businessmen like Chris Hayward, chair of the planning and transportation committee.

“This decision was not decided by people who were democratically elected by local people to represent the community. One might consider this reason enough for a call-in of the application.”

The development will replace Bernard Morgan House, which for 60 years was a police and emergency services digs. No on-site affordable housing is included.

Campaigners are still waiting to hear whether they could launch a judicial review to challenge the decision but time is short – developer Taylor Wimpey is now preparing to start knocking down the building.

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