MP to lobby RBS directors in bid to open up green space

MP Emily Thornberry is lobbying taxpayer-owned RBS to allow public access which would open up a new

MP Emily Thornberry is lobbying taxpayer-owned RBS to allow public access which would open up a new green area - Credit: Archant

Taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is breaching planning rules at its Angel offices, it was claimed this week.

The alleged breach was revealed by Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry, who is lobbying the 81 per cent taxpayer-owned bank in a bid to boost Islington High Street’s appeal.

Islington Council revealed the contravention is over public access to green space at the rear of Regent’s House.

Ms Thornberry said: “I think that part of the High Street really does need to be improved. There is just something about that building that is rather horrible.

“You have to wonder why people would stick around and think of taking a walk up the High Street when they are confronted by that. They probably just take one look at it and decide to go across to the N1 Centre instead.

“If we got the access to the open green space it would be a wonderful place for shoppers to go, for families to sit and eat their sandwiches, and overall would just make people stay around the area more and walk on down to places like Camden Passage.

“It’s not fair on businesses further down the road and frankly it would just be a bit better if we had a bit more activity going on.

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“When planning permission was given they had to give right of way through to the public gardens. We don’t have a great deal of green space in the borough and I think it’s time we saw it opened up.”

The MP added she would be raising the issue with one of the bank’s directors during a trip to Edinburgh.

The planning rule being breached relates to a “Transfer Agreement” struck in 1981 with then occupiers Williams and Glyn’s Bank.

It stated planning permission for works was granted only on the grounds the public would have access into the garden space at the rear of the building between 7am and 6.30pm on weekdays.

A council spokesman said: “It appears this clause is being breached by the current freeholders (RBS).

“The council has written to RBS to bring this matter to their attention.”

Another condition imposed on the occupiers was that the “High Street elevation shall be in the form of a shop window and there shall be at all times in that elevation a window display suitable to a High Street location”, which the council said is not being breached.

RBS had not responded by the time of going to press.