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Islington shopfronts on protected list ‘disappearing’

Conservationists voice concern over locally listed buildings

31 August, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

The Town Hall, pictured, said it was “very happy” to investigate concerns

CONSERVATIONISTS are calling for locally-listed buildings to be given more protection in Islington, after claims that some have been knocked down.

The Town Hall has been working with not-for-profit organisation The Building Exploratory to review the 2,000 significant buildings in the borough.

While the status does not give a building statutory protection – like Heritage England’s graded buildings – it does offer another layer for planning officers to consider when developments are proposed.

The Islington Society has written a letter to the council claiming that some of these properties have been “substantially altered or even lost”.

They say there is a special problem with “disappearing” locally-listed shopfronts and have concerns about whether enough attention is being paid to the list.

The society wants the council to consider an Article 4 direction to remove any permitted development rights – work not requiring formal planning permission – from locally-listed buildings.

It is also asking for a “clear presumption” that locally-listed buildings won’t be knocked down or changed without the same scrutiny as graded buildings.

Islington Society chairman David Gibson said: “Local listings show that local people care. It’s not just us, it’s what people on the street think. People do respond to old buildings, they do really like them.”

Mr Gibson wants it to be easier for residents to get buildings listed, claiming the current system is “archaic” as it has to be signed off through several committees.

Locally-listed buildings have to be considered to be of architectural, historical or environmental significance. The last buildings added were the Station House on Crouch Hill and Brecknock Road estate in 2012.

Islington has more than double the number of locally-listed buildings than neighbouring boroughs, according to Katie Russell, project coordinator at The Building Exploratory.

The project, which has been given funding by Historic England, involves volunteers recording whether the buildings still exist or have been altered. Once completed, the list will be presented to the council for sign-off, and will be published online for residents to browse.

Ms Russell said: “There will probably be fewer [buildings on the list] as some have been demolished since it was last reviewed. Some have been upgraded or received statutory listing.”

The council said that, while some aspects of the society’s requests were already in place, it would need to take advice on whether an Article 4 direction would be lawful.

A council spokesperson said: “We’re strongly committed to protecting Islington’s historic and architecturally significant buildings. Our local listings list has 2,000 entries, which is very large for an inner London borough.

“Despite huge government cuts to council budgets, the small but effective design and conservation team has not been cut. We’re very happy to investigate any concerns about the unauthorised loss of specific locally-listed buildings.”

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