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Residents start campaign over daylight robbery in Finsbury

PUBLISHED: 15:44 04 March 2011

The headstone of William Blake, visionary poet and artist, in London's Bunhill Fields cemetery. Copyright English Heritage, Photo: Chemeck Slowik

The headstone of William Blake, visionary poet and artist, in London's Bunhill Fields cemetery. Copyright English Heritage, Photo: Chemeck Slowik

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A CAMPAIGN against a seven-storey development that will overshadow homes and a newly Grade I-listed cemetery is gathering pace – with residents saying it will literally amount to daylight robbery.

The Moorfield Residents’ Action Group Executive (MRAGE) has been formed to fight the proposed 121-flat development at the former Moorfields School site, on the corner of Bunhill Row and Featherstone Street – and has already gathered a 200-signature petition.

They say the planned development, known as Bunhill Court, is far too big – and will block light from many homes and the only corner of the listed Bunhill Fields Cemetery that benefits from direct sunlight.

Vince Mitchell, MRAGE co-ordinator, who lives in a block of flats on Featherstone Street, said: “It’s going to block the light. We’re not against development of the site, but not at this scale, overshadowing Bunhill Fields and stealing the daylight from the park and it’s neighbours. It’s quite literally daylight robbery.

“The cemetery is already enclosed and this will be the final nail in the coffin.”

The cemetery is the last resting place of many giants of the country’s literary past, including poet William Blake and Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe. It was given a Grade I listing, the highest protected status, in February.

Corry Bourke, who lives in the same block as Mr Mitchell, said: “Our petition has already been signed by about 200 residents and park users.

“The sun only comes into Bunhill Fields in that corner. It’s going to block any sunlight that comes in and it will spoil a really nice community facility. Me and my kids won’t go there anymore.”

Southern Housing Group, the housing association behind the project, paid Islington Council £8.35million for the land in 2009, and plans to build 121 flats and four commercial units.

A spokesman for Southern Housing Group said: “Our staff are continuing to meet with council members and officers to find a solution which is workable on this important inner city site.

“An extensive public consultation has been undertaken as part of the planning process. We take the position of our neighbours very seriously, and we hope to have further discussions with residents in the near future.”


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