New Arsenal plan 'a compromise that suits everyone'

ARSENAL have ditched controversial plans for a multi-screen cinema in their revised planning application for land alongside Emirates Stadium.

ARSENAL have ditched controversial plans for a multi-screen cinema in their revised planning application for land alongside Emirates Stadium.

Last week the Gazette exclusively revealed that the Gunners had listened to public opinion and opted to build a new indoor sports centre in Queensland Road, Holloway.

Now the new plans for the site have been submitted to Islington Council, and as well the cinema and gym having been dropped, the size of the four biggest residential towers has been reduced.

The heights of the housing blocks now vary from 10 to 15 stories, compared to 14 to 21 in the previous proposal.

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A fifth tower stays six storeys high, and the overall number of flats remains at around 730, half of which will be affordable.

In addition, the number of parking spaces has been reduced from 300 to 179.

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Councillor Terry Stacy, deputy Islington Council leader, who had expressed concerns that a new cinema could sound the death knell for the Holloway Odeon at the Nag's Head, said: "I'm delighted Arsenal have listened to the council and residents. This is good news for the Nag's Head and for the Odeon.

"It's also good news for residents worried about the height of the buildings in the last application, and we await with baited breath to see exactly what's going to happen with the sports centre."

In July, Islington Council sent Arsenal back to the drawing board because it was unhappy with the size and the content of the first application. The latest proposal has won many more fans.

Ian Shacklock, who organised a 3,000-signature petition calling on Arsenal to rebuild the sports centre, said: "The new application is very reassuring. We had a shortage of indoor sports centre space but were already well equipped cinema wise, and this should ensure the Odeon doesn't become a ghost town.

"Furthermore if it replaces the cinema at the mouth of Queensland Road then the sports centre will be a superb landmark.

He added: "Hopefully the reduction in the height of the towers also reassures people living close to the stadium. The council has shown it has got some teeth, Arsenal have shown they have got a heart and hopefully this is a compromise that suits everyone."

Ken Friar, Arsenal FC director, said: "Our objective is to push forward in everything we do and part of this progression was listening carefully to the local community and Islington Council. Our conclusion determined that a new sports centre will support and enhance the terrific plethora of community schemes we currently operate as well providing a facility that is made available to the local community to use.

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