University’s roof extension recommended despite claims it will create a ‘student ghetto’

City University of London’s Northampton Square campus. Photograph: Google.

A two-floor roof extension for City University of London (CUL) has been recommended for approval by Town Hall officers despite opposition from residents of a neighbouring square.

CUL wants to add two floors to its University Building in a bid to improve its educational facilities, but has faced complaints from residents of Northampton Square, a parade of Georgian houses, who fear the proposals will bring about a “student ghetto”.

However, council officers disagree with resident objections that the addition to the existing 1970s block would overwhelm the Square, instead saying the impact would be “neutral”.

A council report recommending the application for approval reads: “The increased height created by the extension is accompanied by some townscape benefit in the sense that it includes the removal of rooftop plant and the integration of currently isolated rooftop elements into a unified composition.

“The proposals will not cause harm to the setting of heritage assets. Although the site sits outside the Northampton Square conservation area, consideration has been given to the need to preserve or enhance the appearance of the Conservation Area.

“The proposed design and scale of the extension would not cause unacceptable visual disruption to a unified urban streetscape because the application site is of a different scale and architectural character to the streetscape of the Northampton Square conservation area and the manner in which the surrounding listed buildings are read against the townscape will not alter.

“The proposed extension is acceptable in land use terms and existing unsightly plant and equipment at roof top level would be internalised, improving the roofscape of the building.

“Overall, the scale, massing, height and proposed architectural language is considered to make a positive contribution to creating a coherent streetscape.”

Northampton Square was laid out in 1802, and was one of the earliest squares in Islington, developed as part of the Marquess of Northampton’s estate.

The University Building was designed in the early 1960s by Sheppard, Robson and Partners, before being opened in the 1970s.

The Town Hall will decide on CUL’s application on 4 June.