Disabled Finsbury residents will be ‘prisoners’ if extension goes ahead

Residents, of 10 Epworth Street, are upset about the building surrouding their outdoor roof garden.

Residents, of 10 Epworth Street, are upset about the building surrouding their outdoor roof garden. - Credit: Archant

Disabled and elderly people will feel “imprisoned” in their garden if a two-storey extension is given the go-ahead, a councillor has said.

Developers want to raise the height of derelict Zimco House in Bonhill Street, Finsbury, by almost seven meters to create homes and business space, but the ­extension will cast a huge shadow over an outdoor terrace used by disabled people and families in neighbouring Epworth Street.

The plan goes before an ­Islington Council planning committee tonight.

Anthony O’Loughlin, 71, who has lived in the building for 36 years and started the now thriving garden, said: “We feel that if they add these two extra floors it will block out the little sunlight that we get on our wonderful terrace.

“A number of the people in these flats are disabled and some of them don’t even leave the building. The courtyard is the only area they get fresh air and sunlight.”

The building work would leave most of the garden, which is looked after by Mr O’Loughlin and two other residents, without sun in the winter and seriously reduce the hours of daylight it gets in summer.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, who represents Bunhill Ward, said: “It will just increase the feeling they already have of being enclosed. It’s almost like being in prison. Many of these residents have limited movement, so their terrace becomes even more precious to them.

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“There will continue to be development and growth in this part of Islington, but we must also remember we have elderly and disabled people living in this borough.”

A similar application to ­increase the height was rejected in 2012 after residents complained, but this application has been recommended for approval.

A spokesman for Lawnpond Ltd, which owns the building, said the plans would improve the “ugly” Zimco House and tackle problems of anti-social behaviour.

He said: “The outdated offices will be refurbished, new homes provided and the dark and dangerous undercroft removed. We have ­reduced the top floor in response to residents’ concerns in order to protect light to the roof terrace garden and homes at 10 Epworth Street.

“Expert daylight and sunlight studies show these plans have no significant ­impact on neighbouring homes.”