Couple’s bid to build dream home is dashed
Townhouse plan for ‘peaceful road’ is rejected by councillors after neighbours expressed concern about construction noise and working hours
28 April, 2017 — By Koos Couvée
Artist’s impression of the townhouse
PLANNING chiefs have rejected a wealthy couple’s bid to build a townhouse just off Barnsbury Square because they would have “under-used” the 600sq metre site.
Matthew Slotover, co-publisher of Frieze art magazine and co-director of Frieze Art Fair, and his wife, design historian Emily King, hoped to build a single-storey house on the L-shaped site to the rear of numbers 21-28 at the square.
Their plans were rejected by councillors at a meeting of Islington Council’s planning committee last Thursday.
The couple canvassed support from neighbours for the project, which would have seen existing garages demolished and a one-storey house, basement and boundary wall built.
Councillor Angela Picknell, who chaired the committee, said: “We all appreciate the ability of architects to design innovative buildings in unlikely or challenging contexts. The decision was no reflection on the thought and skill that went into this application.
“But the 600-odd square metres of land would have been used to build a house, the minimum requirement of which would be considerably less than a quarter of that.”
She added: “I was in agreement with the officers that the plans constituted an under-use of the land. Secondly, this in turn would lead to a lower affordable housing contribution than we could extract from a multiple-dwelling plan.
“There also remained a question of the effect on the tree canopy.”
The couple would have had to make a £50,000 contribution to affordable housing in the borough, if the plans had been approved.
The application’s design and access statement said: “They [Mr Slotover and Ms King] wish to build their own home in Islington for themselves and future generations.
“The applicants have an in-depth involvement in the arts and design, and have professional experience and involvement with the commissioning of award-winning architecture.”
Neighbours in Thornhill Road and Belitha Villas, whose homes back onto the site, had expressed concern about construction noise and working hours.
They demanded that the couple draw up a deed guaranteeing that the house never has a roof terrace overlooking their gardens.
Barnsbury Square was voted London’s “most peaceful road” by the Evening Standard in 2013. Mr Slotover bought the site at auction the following year.