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‘Ghastly’ roof plan invades privacy, claims furious Islington Lady who has support of actor Simon Callow

PUBLISHED: 16:14 02 June 2013

Room with a view? Lady Valerie Rossmore's view has been

Room with a view? Lady Valerie Rossmore's view has been "blighted" by the roof terrace

Archant

An extraordinary row involving a Lady, an award-winning actor and a planning law-flouting developer has erupted over the building of a roof terrace.

Room with a view? Lady Valerie Rossmore's view has been "blighted" by the roof terraceRoom with a view? Lady Valerie Rossmore's view has been "blighted" by the roof terrace

Lady Valerie Rossmore, of Florence Street, says she feels “violated” by the roof-top structure, which “blights” the view from her £1.8million Islington townhouse.

To add insult to injury, work began on the terrace – which is set to rise nearly another metre – about four years ago without full planning permission under a previous owner.

But Islington Council later granted retrospective approval and has now given the go-ahead for the new owner to erect a vertical extension – something branded “inconceivable” by close friend and British BAFTA nominee Simon Callow.

Lady Rossmore now fears the extension, which could see roof-top chairs and tables installed, will compromise her privacy.

She said: “It’s absolutely ghastly. I feel totally violated by the whole thing and utterly devastated. It blights the view and completely blocks out the light.

“What’s more people might be able to see in, because of the angle created.

“When it was first built they didn’t have planning permission and I was promised by the council they wouldn’t stand a chance of getting it.”

She criticised the council for approving an extension earlier this month without taking the planning decision to a public committee, despite letters of objection from a number of nearby residents.

Council officers instead approved the application under “devolved powers”.

Lady Rossmore’s plight has stoked such a furore that Mr Callow has now waded into the dispute, having known her “wonderful” house for more than 15 years.

He said: “It is a splendid early Victorian building, with a unique character which she has always honoured in her decoration of the house.

“One of its most attractive features is the light that comes from the back of the house and the view across the adjacent rooftops.

“The proposed roof terrace will obliterate any natural skylight and will result in a loss of privacy and it is altogether less charming.

“It seems inconceivable that the council would endorse such an obvious flaunting of planning policy in an area where conservation and acknowledgement of the special character of the architecture has always been so highly prized by residents and local authority alike.”

Islington Council said the developer, who took over the site in 2011 after the former buyer went bankrupt, has all the relevant permission and has done nothing wrong.

But in 2011 the local authority granted retrospective approval for what stands today, despite it flouting the original plans given approval in 2005.

A council spokesman said: “The council has considered objections from neighbours and we have brought the application to a public planning committee when appropriate.”

The council addressed the privacy issue by demanding the new developer install privacy screens.


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