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‘We don’t want luxury flats ruining our historic estate’ – Golden Lane campaigners

PUBLISHED: 09:49 28 June 2017 | UPDATED: 10:18 29 June 2017

Children and parents in Fortune Street Park are concerned the new development will block the sunlight from the park. Picture: Polly Hancock

Children and parents in Fortune Street Park are concerned the new development will block the sunlight from the park. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Architects the world over may be in awe of the Golden Lane Estate, but people living there have their work cut out trying to stop a private development “ruining” its historic design.

Bernard Morgan House in happier times. Picture: Chris DorleyBernard Morgan House in happier times. Picture: Chris Dorley

Born out of the rubble of The Blitz, the housing project was the work of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon – who later went on to create the adjacent Barbican Estate.

It opened to fanfare in the 1950s and was seen as the torchbearer of social integration. But now Bernard Morgan House, an old police digs building overlooking the estate, could become a 10-storey luxury block with no on-site affordable housing.

Despite 182 objections, City of London planners signed off on the proposals from developers Taylor Wimpey last month, 13 votes to 10. But a campaign group, backed by MPs, is desperate to stop it and has asked communities secretary Sajid Javid to call it in.

They say the urban village concept works and should be protected and, crucially, that the new build would cast a shadow over Fortune Street Park and Prior Western Community School – both of which are in Islington.

Bernard Morgan House. Picture: Polly HancockBernard Morgan House. Picture: Polly Hancock

Campaigner Emma Matthews said: “The City ought to be proud of this community, the centre of which is the park. It is our children’s back garden, and is shared every day by the thousands of people who live and work in the area.

“Children play, surrounded by neighbours of all ages; they learn to share and play together. If this development is allowed to go ahead it will block the sun on the park from September to March at this crucial time.”

City of London MP Mark Field has backed the campaign, as has Islington South and Finsbury’s Emily Thornberry. Islington Council also objected over the loss of sunlight and the damage increased footfall would have on the park. Author Iain Sinclair also hit out in typical fashion. He said: “Where does this fetish for reckless verticality die of shame?

“This development pitch goes against the original spirit of place, the possibility of making a good life in the teeth of rampant fiscal adventurism.

“So it is necessary, even for outsiders, to register a protest, because the same moves are happening right across the map. Let this latest piracy be held to account. Golden Lane is ordinary and unique. And it works.”

Sajid Javid’s office did not reply to a request for comment.

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