‘The new Covent Garden? We don’t want the noise’ say neighbours of £400m Islington Square

The new Islington Square development from the neighbouring streets. Picture: Adrian Zorzut

The new Islington Square development from the neighbouring streets. Picture: Adrian Zorzut - Credit: Archant

Neighbours of the £400million Islington Square development dubbed the “new Covent Garden” are not happy about the prospect of open-air events taking place yards from their homes.

Islington Square in Upper Street. Picture: Sager Group

Islington Square in Upper Street. Picture: Sager Group - Credit: Archant

Councillors last month approved Cain and Sager's request for a premise licence at the new complex, built on the old Royal Mail sorting office behind Upper Street.

They did so on the condition security is hired to chaperone people out along alleyways. They also ruled events must finish at 9pm, an hour earlier than requested.

But for homeowners on Moon Street and Studd Street, the biggest concern remains whether the noise will be kept down.

The old General Post Office building was bought by Cain and Sager Group in 2003, before being partly demolished and rebuilt - following major protests by workers.

Islington Square in Upper Street. Picture: Sager Group

Islington Square in Upper Street. Picture: Sager Group - Credit: Archant

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The 500,000sq ft development includes 263 homes - 94 of which will be affordable - as well as serviced apartments, shops, restaurants, a "luxury cinema" and a gym.

The brochure calls it a "premier retail and leisure destination".

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But it's in a residential area.

Moon Street and Studd Street sit to the south of the estate and will be central thoroughfares for pedestrians and businesses in the area, while Almeida Street will take the brunt of traffic coming down Upper Street.

Al Callinan, 82, has lived in Moon Street for 35 years and said he was speechless when he heard about plans for the open-air entertainment.

He said: "No solid barrier [separating Studd Street from the estate] will mean people will still be able to walk around.

"This will disturb the sleep of young people and other people along these streets."

Another resident, who runs a physiotherapy practice from the home where she has lived for 15 years, was flabbergasted to hear the licencing sub-committee had approved the decision.

She is concerned the increase of people funnelling through Moon Street will ruin its suburban feel.

She said: "Moon Street is so quiet, you would not even notice you're in the centre of Highbury and Islington."

She was disgruntled by the committee's handling of the process and said: "I used to attend council meeting but I stopped because there was no point. They just did not care."

Moon Street and Studd Street Residents' Association member Sally Jones said noise was her biggest concern.

She said she can easily hear people chatting on their phones as they stroll down Moon Street street from inside her home and is worried what an increase in footfall will mean for noise levels.

The licensing sub-committee also told the developers to install CCTV, limit business deliveries to the early hours of the morning, ensure events are ticketed are do not exceed more than 499 people, and give residents two weeks' notice prior to any event.

They have also promised to stagger events.

Plays, films and live music can be played Monday to Sunday until 9pm. So too can recorded music, though that must stop an hour earlier on Sundays.

In a letter to residents in July, managing agent Richard Scantlebury from realtor firm CBRE, whose name the application was made in, said: "The Islington Square team aim to host a series of 'place making' events and activities to generate interest and give its residents, visitors and the local community the opportunity to see and experience how Islington Square intends to operate as a mixed-use estate within an established community.

"The events and activities are designed to complement the retail environment and attract visitors to the shops and restaurants, while consideration has been given to both our residents and the residents living in the local area.

"I consider communication key to ensuring a successful events programme and the Islington Square team intend to consult with residents and tenants on a regular basis throughout the year.

"This planning application is 'time limited' to February 2020, which will allow us to demonstrate how we intend to operate on a longer-term basis, when a permanent licence is applied for.

"This will also give residents the opportunity to feedback to the estate and event team so we can tailor future events to suit everyone."

Do you live in the area? What are your thoughts on Islington Square? Contact the Gazette on 020 7433 0104 or email sam.gelder@archant.co.uk.

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