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‘Planning rules pose a threat to our high streets’

Conservation group chairman bows out with a warning

02 April, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

David Gibson: ‘I love the fact that so many buildings in Islington have a story to tell’

CHANGES to planning rules could make it too easy for developers to change the face of Islington, the chairman of an influential conservation group has warned, as he stepped down from the role.

David Gibson, an architect who has headed the Islington Society for 10 years, said the mix of uses on the high street could be ruined without enough protection.

“The assault by the current government on good planning could mean the right to change any high street shop to a residential unit,” he said, referring to the expansion of permitted development rights, which allow works to go ahead without full building consent from the Town Hall.

“That could be a problem for local shops where I live. There is a group of shops in Tufnell Park I use regularly but any one of those could change to a house.”

Other challenges for the future, he said, include finding the balance bet­ween pedestrians, cyclists and motorists and creating affordable housing while protecting green spaces.

But he said he would look back fondly at his time with the society.

He said: “Islington is my home, it is where my children were brought up. I love the fact that I can’t walk 50 yards down the road without seeing someone I know.”

Mr Gibson, who has an architecture practice in Essex Road, said: “I love the fact that so many buildings in Islington have a story to tell. I love the wealth of green spaces in Islington form Hillside Park in the north to Bunhill Fields in the south. I love every bit of Islington.”

The Islington Society was founded in 1960 after seeing the threat posed to Georgian terraces in Union Square which were being torn down to make way for flats in an area south of Essex Road.

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