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Huge development plans for Golden Lane Estate panned by campaigners

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 March 2017 | UPDATED: 10:33 06 July 2017

Golden Lane Estate tenants are campaigning against the 'out of proportion' plans. Picture: Polly Hancock

Golden Lane Estate tenants are campaigning against the 'out of proportion' plans. Picture: Polly Hancock

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‘Show some respect’ is the message from people on the Grade II-listed Golden Lane Estate to Islington Council and the City. The Gazette found out why plans for a school, private flats and a council tower block have angered them.

Tim Godsmark, chair of Golden Lane Estate Residents Association and Sue Pearson, chair of the Golden Baggers, the Golden Lane Allotment Society, with before and after images showing the proposed build near the allotments. Picture: Polly HancockTim Godsmark, chair of Golden Lane Estate Residents Association and Sue Pearson, chair of the Golden Baggers, the Golden Lane Allotment Society, with before and after images showing the proposed build near the allotments. Picture: Polly Hancock

Sweeping plans to build two housing blocks and a school on the historic Golden Lane Estate have not exactly been welcomed by people already living there.

The Grade II-listed site straddles the border between the City of London and Islington, and the two authorities have got their heads together for a major redevelopment project.

It includes a six-storey block of private-rented flats in the south of the estate, which falls in the City, and a 14-storey tower of 72 “affordable housing” flats across the border in Islington.

Next to that, on the site of the old Richard Cloudesley School, would be the new City of London Academy, Islington, with much-needed spaces for 420 students.

But campaigners, led by Charles Humphries, have launched a petition against the “sub-standard” plans, saying they threaten the “architectural significance and integrity” of the estate. “There is really no space on the school site for the housing element,” Charles argued. “So it has been shoehorned into a 14-storey tower that will dominate the listed Golden Lane Estate, block the sunlight from the Peabody Estate opposite and will have no communal outdoor amenity space.

“It is three times the maximum density in the London Plan and three times higher than the zoning in the Finsbury Local Plan.

A view from Golden Lane showing the estate buildings, left, and the neighbouring education centre, right, which could be redeveloped into a 14-storey block. Picture: Polly HancockA view from Golden Lane showing the estate buildings, left, and the neighbouring education centre, right, which could be redeveloped into a 14-storey block. Picture: Polly Hancock

“The 1,000 existing residents of the estate, who have supported the social housing from the start, are horrified by the scale of the proposals brought forward and very concerned at the poor quality of the social housing proposed.”

The Golden Lane Estate was designed by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, the firm that went on to design the Barbican. The petition calls it “an internationally important post-war housing scheme”.

Charles also took issue with the plans to build entirely private housing in the City and entirely affordable housing in Islington, suggesting it was simply adding to the exclusivity of inner London.

He added: “The City appear to be paying to dump their social housing obligation into Islington like a neighbour throwing snails over the garden fence. This is taking the concept of ‘poor doors’ to the next level.”

There’s anger among plotholders at the estate’s award-winning allotments, too. Not only could trees be lost under the proposed works but the tower block would overshadow the area and block light.

Sue Pearson chair of the Golden Baggers – the Golden Lane allotment society – said: “The proximity and height of the proposed school hall will have a devastating effect on our allotments, which provide not only vegetables, fruit and flowers but social and health benefits to 42 resident families and their friends.

Golden Lane Estate as it could look. Picture: GLERAGolden Lane Estate as it could look. Picture: GLERA

“The proposal would rob us of early morning sunlight and daylight – but also the green strip of mature silver birch trees, flowering lilac, and cherries, which provide the birds and wildlife that make our allotments productive and create a small oasis of calm in the busy City.”

Plans have yet to be submitted but at a town hall meeting in January, council leader Richard Watts praised the scheme. He said: “I am very proud to recommend this development as I think it is thoroughly good news for the borough.

“We have a growing population of children and a shortage of school places in Islington, especially in the south of the borough where the school will open.

“There is also a housing crisis so the addition of social housing will be welcomed. City of London also has a very good track record with schools.”

An Islington spokesman said: “We are aware of concerns raised by residents during pre-application consultation by the applicant, and will consider them very carefully.

“No planning application has been submitted, and there will be a further opportunity for residents to comment at that stage.”

The City of London declined to comment on the proposals.

To view the petition, click here.

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