Published: 3 August, 2012
by ANDREW JOHNSON
HISTORIAN Gillian Tindall condemned proposals to build a five-storey block of housing next to the historic dissenters’ burial ground in Bunhill Fields.
The application last Thursday was the latest in a long-running row over the site of the former Moorfields Primary School, in Featherstone Street, Clerkenwell, sold to housing association Southern Housing for £8m in 2009.
Southern Housing originally hoped to build a seven-storey block but neighbours said it would “steal” their daylight.
Heritage groups protested that it would impact too heavily on Bunhill Fields, where authors Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan are buried.
Earlier this year, a planning inspector threw out those plans because of the effect on Bunhill Fields.
Last Thursday, Islington’s planning committee approved new plans which reduced the height of the building by two storeys.
Ms Tindall described the scheme as “commercially motivated vandalism” and said it was wrong to say it would fit in with earlier buildings.
“The new scheme is very similar to the old one,” she said. “Earlier buildings were demolished in the Blitz in 1940. They claim they had buildings of five to six storeys, but this is specious. Original maps of 1812 show Georgian buildings until 1936 when the council approved replacing some houses with warehouses. But the inter-war period was a low point for urban planning.
“What is being proposed is a modern block of mainly expensive flats that do not accord with the townscape.
“No responsible body should allow Bunhill Fields to be hemmed in by such damaging development.”
Residents of the street fear they will still lose some daylight, although not as much as before.
Lib Dem councillor George Allen said: “The view from the burial ground will be improved by this development.
“I can’t agree that it is commercially motivated vandalism. That would imply that nothing larger than a garden shed could be built on the site.”