Plans amended to reduce office revamp’s ‘harmful’ impact on St John’s Church

St John Clerkenwell. Photograph: Wikimedia Commons.

Plans to refurbish and extend a St John’s Street office building that had been delayed by Islington Council for their “harmful” impact on a Grade I-listed church are again under consideration.

Councillors on the Town Hall’s planning committee had kicked into touch the proposal for an extra floor to be added to 145-157 St John Street over concerns that it would harm both the “visual appearance and historic character” of former parish church St John Clerkenwell.

While original plans showed the new building visible behind the church, applicants Meritcape Ltd. have now made “various amendments” to the scheme which they hope will satisfy the Town Hall, including reducing the size of a terrace and  the height of the building itself by “between 200-450mm”.

Following collaboration with English Heritage Gardens and the Priory of the Order of St. John, the “original concept” for the building has now been expanded to revamp the church yard with “an illustrative landscaping and planting scheme.”

A council report on the final draft of the proposals reads: “There is a requirement that the impact of the proposal on the heritage assets be
very carefully considered.

“If the overall heritage assessment concludes that the proposal is harmful (which is the case here) then that should be given ‘considerable importance and weight’ in the final balancing exercise.”

Officers are recommending that planning permission on the amended scheme be granted.

St John Clerkenwell, one of the last monasteries to be dissolved by Henry VIII in 1540, is considered by the council to be “of outstanding architectural and historical importance,” with parts of the building dating back to the 12th Century.

The church was rebuilt and extended by architects John Seely and Paul Paget for the Order of St John in the 1950s after it suffered bomb damage during the Blitz, and can be seen on guided tours run by the Order.