Great Arthur House, Golden Lane Estate, LondonSource: Tom Cronin
Anger over plans for new school and homes on the edge of postwar modernist landmark
Proposals to build a new school and social housing block adjacent to the City of London’s Golden Lane Estate will cause “substantial harm” to the listed postwar landmark, residents fear.
The scheme would deliver a three-storey 420-pupil primary school and a 70-home block of flats on land north of the current estate, which boasts Grade II and Grade II* listed buildings constructed in the 1950s to designs by Chamberlin, Powell and Bon – who later designed the Barbican Centre.
Hawkins Brown Architects has drawn up the new proposals – currently at pre-application stage – for Islington council and the City of London Corporation.
The development site is immeditately north east of the estate, on land bounded by Baltic Street and Golden Lane, and has been pitched as an “extension” of the current scheme, viewed as an exemplar of British modernism.
Golden Lane Estate Residents Association has started a petition calling on both councils to rethink the scheme, and create proposals that respect the low-rise character of the estate and do not detract from its sole tower – the 16-storey centrepiece Great Arthur House.
Residents’ association member Clem Cecil, a former director of Save Britain’s Heritage, told BD that while there was an acceptance that a new school and new homes were a valid use of the site, the new 14-storey block of flats was a “scandal” and should be reduced to six storeys to fit in with the surrounding buildings.
“They’re not trying to understand the spirit of the design of the existing estate,” she said.
“The new block will be the same height as Great Arthur House but it will loom over views of the estate, causing substantial harm to its significance and design.”
Cecil said that while the new flats block was earmarked to be 100% social housing – which would be a public benefit, the decisions on its scale appeared to be arbitrary.
A timeline included in preliminary consultation documents earlier this year suggested that Islington and the City of London wanted to submit a planning application for the proposals this spring, to start on-site before the end of the year.
It targeted an autumn 2019 opening for the primary school, and completion of all works by spring 2020.
An Islington spokesman said the authority was aware of issues raised by residents during pre-application consultation work and would “consider those concerns very carefully”.
He added: “No planning application has been submitted and there will be a further opportunity for residents to comment at that stage.”
The City of London declined to comment.
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