Fears that Union Chapel view will be ruined by homes plan

Hundreds of residents are up in arms about a proposed block of housing that would hide one of Islington’s iconic buildings.

People are concerned that a five storey development, which is on the site of the former Ford garage in Canonbury Road, will block the view of the Union Chapel, in nearby Compton Avenue, which was recently given Grade I listed status.

During the public consultation, which closed in July, more than 100 people wrote to complain while a further 114 signed a petition against the scale of development.

There are also fears that increased pressure on parking could lead to the venue, voted one of the best in London, being forced to stop hosting gigs.

The plan, which includes 90 units, is a revision of a scheme that was refused by the council in 2010, a decision upheld by the planning inspector later that year.

But the inspector’s report concentrated on protecting the view of the chapel from Canonbury Square, which is completely obscured by tree leaves during the summer, which is why residents want to preserve the view from Canonbury Road.

Roger Mears, an architect who lives in nearby Compton Terrace, said: “This development is too high and will ruin the only view of one of Islington’s most impressive buildings.

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“There is an OK view of the chapel from Canonbury Square in winter, but in the summer you can just about see the top of the spire.

“The worry is that because this new application ticks the right boxes, it will go through. The impact on one of the borough’s greatest buildings will be huge.”

Philip Walker, chairman of the Canonbury Society, said: “It’s such an important site. The new proposal is better but it’s still much to much. Around St Paul’s they actually tear down skyscrapers to preserve the view and that is what we are fighting for here. You will only be able to see it from one point on a winter’s day.

“There is also the general problem of space and parking for these new houses – and the impact on the Union Chapel’s live events, which rely on the site for bands loading and unloading at night. The music operations may have to be shut down.

“We are not against development. You can’t stop it, but they need a re-think.”

Kate Davies, chief executive of Notting Hill Housing who are behind the development said they had made substanital changes by moving the block and reducing its size. She added: “We now believe we will be providing beautiful new homes in a way that is respectful to the historic and very special Union Chapel.”