Neighbours’ anger as ‘ugly’ school Islington sports hall is agreed

A COUNCILLOR reportedly said a new school sports hall looked like a “prison camp” before it got planning permission.

Islington Council’s planning committee approved the development at Hanover Primary School and Nursery in Noel Road.

Several homeowners in Noel Road attended the meeting last Thursday and urged councillors to reject the proposal which they say looks like an “ugly big grey box”.

The three-story extension will be adjoined to the listed school building and next to Regent’s Canal.

Resident Helen Hanlon said: “Even the chairman of the committee said it looks like a ‘prison camp’ and it was a questionable design. But then they approved the development which was just rubbing salt in our wounds. The hall will be situated in a conservation area in one of Islington’s premier streets.”

Councillor Robert Khan was vice-charman during the debate on the sports hall because the committee’s chairman councillor Martin Klute declared a personal interest and had to leave the room.

Councillor Khan said: “I don’t think I recall using that particular phrase although others may have done. What certainly is the case is that the committee were not impressed by the design of the development and local residents who objected had a good point in relation to this. However, the committee on balance approved the application because of the benefits to the children of the school in having modernised and improved facilities.”

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Mrs Hanlon has complained to the local government Ombudsman – which investigates complaints of maladministration by authorities – because she claims the planning consultation process was not followed.

Residents were angry that design statements for the sports hall were not available to view online until a day before the consultation period ended. Islington Council said it accepted comments up until the meeting.

Mrs Hanlon said: “Residents were left in the dark. When people saw the design they felt it was revolting. We feel this has been rushed through. All of us support the need for a new facility but not this design.”

Islington Council said local residents will be consulted on the colour and materials used.

Another objector Oya Richardson said: “It has been frustrating. The councillors said architects will speak to residents and we could perhaps change the colour of the cladding. But I doubt we can have that much influence on changing the design at this stage – with construction starting in June.”

A new playground is being built alongside the sports hall which will also be used as an assembly hall.