‘Towering monstrosities’: Major development in Archway wins approval despite tongue-lashing from residents

An impression of the prospective tower from Girdlestone Park. Image: Islington Council / HTA Design

A Town Hall plan for a 47 metre high tower block, replacement library and medical centre in Archway town centre got the green light despite a resident calling them “towering monstrosities”.

Islington Council will redevelop the vacant Vorley Road bus stand in Archway, together with empty office and build 72 homes with some in a 13-storey tower.

The rest of the homes will be in an eight-storey block and one ranging from two to six storeys high.

It said the scheme, including 37 council homes, or 51 per cent of the total, will help with the urgent need for housing and it will be funded through money from right to buy and selling homes.

It said it would “optimise an underdeveloped site” and provide much needed homes.

The council said the new 47-metre tower, including rooftop plant machinery, would fit in a “tower cluster” around Archway.

Architects have set it back from the road in a bid to reduce its visual impact.

One nearby resident from Junction Road told Islington council’s planning department: “No-one wants these towering monstrosities.”

He said the 59 metre high 1960s Archway Tower was a “test case” for architects on “how not to do it” and called on the design team to “rescale the height of this beast. Just bring it down.”

The scheme also includes a new base for the Archway medical centre and a replacement Archway library, including a community room and sound-proofed music room.

The council said it would “optimise an underdeveloped site” and provide much needed homes.

It will also spend £260,000 on nearby Girdlestone Park with improvements to the playground and ball park.

One resident said using the height of three tall buildings in the Archway cluster “to justify a new-build look is bizarre. It’s like using Alan Sugar and Richard Branson to determine the average age of the UK income. It’s an anomaly.”

“The average height of buildings in Archway is five storeys high.”

Another resident said: “The towers at Archway are not the success of the area, they are the blight on the area.”

The council’s new building team said they had considered the impact of the tower block height.

It said the consultation was “extensive” and it contacted more than 2,900 people, however just a handful attended consultation events.

One resident told the planning committee he feared there would be “community polarisation, separating blocks against the policy of blind tenure”.

The council said residents would have shared open space and the only separation was the entrance in one block for practical reasons and “every property will look exactly the same” with the same quality of materials “across all tenures”.

Just one council home will be in the tall tower block.

Committee chair Martin Klute noted there were arguments for and against living in tower blocks and “that families feel somewhat trapped in higher buildings”.

Debating the scheme, councillors said the buildings’ energy efficiency, new homes and replacement library and medical centre were benefits.

Cllr Bashir Ibrahim (Labour, Arsenal) said he has concerns about tower blocks but there is a lack of homes in the borough.

Benali Hamdache (Green, Highbury) said the plan was not “perfect” but the “scale of the housing crisis in London forces us to take difficult decisions”.

Vice-chair Toby North thought “the massing of three individual buildings works quite well with the site”.

The scheme was approved by the planning committee yesterday.