Controversial Union Chapel development gets the green light

Pete Stapleton outside the Union Chapel

Pete Stapleton outside the Union Chapel - Credit: Archant

»People’s worst fears for the future of one of the finest gig venues in the country were realised this week after a housing development was given the go-ahead.

The Union Chapel, in Compton Avenue, Islington, has welcomed the likes of Elton John, Noel Gallagher and Brian May in the past – but concerts may have to be pulled now that 90 homes are set to be built next door.

And conservationists say that views of the chapel, a fully functioning church and one of Islington’s most iconic buildings, will be blocked by trees except in winter.

But despite these concerns, an Islington Council planning committee meeting on Friday gave the development the green light.

Roger Mears, an architect who lives in nearby Compton Terrace, said: “The council just didn’t take into account the only time this beautiful Grade I listed building will be visible is during the winter when the trees are bare.

“I think they were really poorly advised by the conservation officers and the committee didn’t listen to any suggestions on how the plans could have been altered.

“In terms of the venue, it will lose its loading bay, which could have a serious impact on what it can do. Then there is the noise and disturbance caused by the building work, which could have serious consequences.”

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Peter Stapleton, events manager at the venue, said: “We’ve all been a bit worried but we’ll have to wait and see. We got on really well with our current neighbours, so hopefully we will get on with the new ones just as well.”

More than 2,300 people signed a petition against the development and comedian Alan Davies threw his weight behind the campaign.


Cllr Robert Khan, chairman of the planning committee said: “We carefully considered the proposal’s potential effect on an area of historic interest, sight lines and the operation of the Union Chapel’s music and community facilities.

“A number of views of the Union Chapel within the area have been safeguarded and the development is of an appropriate scale to its surroundings and of a high-quality design. The scheme will deliver high-quality housing to meet pressing housing needs in the borough.”

He added that the development would be noise insulated, but that a section 106 contribution has also been secured to pay for insulation work at the Union Chapel.