Estate campaigners fight plan for 14-storey tower block
Golden Lane residents plan 'overdevelopment' legal action as Islington Council prepare to give go-ahead for 66 social homes and a primary school
16 July, 2018 — By Samantha Booth
Campaigners Jacqueline Swanson, Ryan Dilley, Jane Carr and Clementine Cecil in front of the site that would be developed
CAMPAIGNERS on the historic Golden Lane estate are preparing a potential legal challenge against plans to build a new 14-storey tower block and school near their homes.
The group has instructed a lawyer after the Islington Council planning committee resolved to grant permission in March for 66 social homes and a two-form entry primary school on the former Richard Cloudesley School site.
The project is being delivered by the City of London.
The Town Hall is yet to grant official planning permission but once it does, campaigners have six weeks to submit a judicial review, looking at how the decision was made.
Clementine Cecil, who lives in Basterfield House adjacent to the site, said: “There’s a very strong feeling here that it’s an overdevelopment of the site and it’s going to have a negative impact on the estate.
“We feel a bit desperate, nobody wants to go to court, but we’ve been so locked out of this.”
Built as a social housing complex in post-war Britain, the Golden Lane estate was heralded for its architectural design and it is now Grade II and Grade II* listed. Today, it comprises about half social housing on the Islington and City of London border.
The Richard Cloudesley School, a special needs school, has moved into a new premises in Whitecross Street. The City of London will open an 420-pupil academy on the revamped site.
The FANS of Golden Lane group have met architects who have drawn up their own plans, which they say would provide more homes in low-rise accommodation.
Ms Cecil said: “The whole thing has been badly thought through. We are in 2018, there’s so much experience of good town planning. Why are we in this position?
“We made it so clear we are not against social housing, half of this estate is social housing. Why would we be against it and the school as well? It’s just how it’s done.”
Alec Forshaw, a former conservation officer at Islington Council, agreed it appeared it be a “gross overdevelopment” of the site.
Mr Forshaw, who served 30 years as a planner, told the Tribune: “There’s no precedent of doing that in the area.” He added: “It really is going to be in a lot of people’s faces.”
Ms Cecil instructed Susan Ring, a partner at Harrison Grant solicitors which specialises in environment, planning and public law. Ms Ring has written to both authorities to inform them.
So far, £6,000 has been fundraised by 70 backers to help cover legal fees.
A spokeswoman for Islington Council said it could not yet confirm when final planning permission would be granted.
Councillor Diarmaid Ward, executive member for housing and development, said: “Islington faces a severe housing crisis.
“We are aware that some residents have concerns about this development, and the council will of course carefully consider the issues raised before it issues its decision.”
A spokesman for the City of London said: “We are continuing to work closely with the local community and recently we changed our tree preservation and planting plans to meet the wishes of residents.”