Golden Lane Residents have labelled Islington councillors’ vote in favour of building a new school next to their estate ‘appalling’ as it nears final review.
The scheme was approved despite more than 130 objections and claims from Golden Lane Estate that the new-build complex would break the council’s own rules on planning.
“A complete stitch-up”
Charles Humphries, chair of the Golden Lane Estate Residents Association’s fight against the plans, called the decision “a complete stitch-up”, saying: “It’s hard to imagine a scheme for the site that could have had a worse impact or broken more planning policies.”
The joint proposal between Islington Council and the City Corporation is for a 14-storey social housing block and 420-pupil primary school.
The primary school would be the new home for City of London Primary School Islington (COLPAI) which is currently on a two-year temporary lease at Moreland Primary School in Clerkenwell.
The plans were approved at a planning meeting two weeks ago, but because of the proposed location the scheme still needs the go ahead from the City of London planners.
Mr Humphries told Islington Now: “The plans haven’t been analysed at all. There has obviously been a lot of pressure on Islington planners from councillors at the top – they’re getting a school and housing and they’re not having to pay for it.
“For them what’s not to love but we think it’s a really poor design and will be isolating for residents.”
However, not everyone saw the decision as bad news. Joao Bravo da Costa, an architect and parent of a child at Moreland Primary School, said: “It should be welcomed and celebrated. Fortunately this scheme puts a block of affordable homes right in the school’s catchment area, ensuring that less well-off families will continue to have access to a valuable community asset.”
A spokesperson for the City of London Corporation, which is funding the scheme, told Islington Now: “We will continue to work closely with the London Borough of Islington to create a new academy school which meets the needs of the local area.”
Differing claims about school places
But there has been debate about how much the new school is needed. Some parents claim Islington schools are oversubscribed and Golden Lane Estate residents say there are so many school places, they are struggling to get filled.
The night the @UKLabour council in Islington chose the extra classroom needed to obtain Academy status for a school, (&the interests of The City) over safe, secure social housing for residents in #Bunhill Ward #inexplicable #nosurprise #makinglabourbetter https://t.co/HvAjfYeid6
— Sebastian Sandys (@SebastianSandys) March 6, 2018
The Golden Lane Estate Residents’ Association has developed two alternative schemes made up of low-rise buildings which it argues would be cheaper and provide a better quality of life.
The current proposals include a high-rise tower of social housing. “We think it’s quite isolating to put them in a tower,” said Mr Humphries. “It’s not had great press, social housing in towers.”
Despite backlash from residents the plans are likely to be approved by the City of London, who are set to rule on the project on 26 March.