‘Disappointing’: Office block near Old Street wins planning approval despite neighbours’ objections over light loss

Town Hall planners have given the scheme the go-ahead. Photograph: Islington Citizen

A new office block near Old Street is getting the go-ahead despite residents’ concerns about loss of light.

The new four-storey development in Bastwick Street will replace a former car repair workshop that was used as a photography studio and storage space for props.

It is in the council’s Great Sutton Street Employment Priority Area and Central Activities Zone, and developers hope it will support 100 jobs and space for small- and medium-sized businesses.

Residents living nearby urged Islington’s planning committee to reject the scheme, which they fear will affect the sunlight entering their homes.

According to a light survey, there would be a 24 per cent reduction in sunlight in one ground-floor room on neighbouring Central Street and other homes would be affected too.

The new plan for the four-storey block with two basement levels follows a previous scheme that was rejected by the planning committee in June 2022 over “unacceptable design”.

The committee said it would cause “unacceptable harm to the amenity of nearby residential buildings through loss of daylight and sunlight receipt experienced by those properties, overshadowing to a rear garden and an unacceptable sense of enclosure”.

Developer Shoham Chelmsford Ltd went back to the drawing board, changing the height of the storeys at the back of the building “so that the upper most floors are less visually obtrusive to properties adjacent to the site”, according to a council report.

They said they also contacted residents and reassured them that flat roofs will not be used as terraces, which could have affected people’s privacy.

The design is now inspired by 19th-century architecture, they said.

The council received 26 objections and one resident described how the loss of light in her living room would have “consequences on living and working conditions” at home.

She asked for the building to be “pulled back to align with neighbours”.

Another resident, Darren Stanford, whose garden in Central Street could lose sunlight, said a reduction of 1.5 metres in height would make a “considerable difference”.

However, the developers said the building was designed to give the standard three metres’ height that “offices require”.

Councillor Hannah McHugh (Lab, St Mary’s and St James’)  said it was “disappointing there is such a loss of light to neighbouring properties”.

The council’s planning report said the issues with overshadowing and light had been reduced, with fewer rooms affected.

Residents also had concerns about noise from plant equipment in the building and a planning condition calls for the developers to prove it meets noise guidelines.

The developers also agreed there would be no building work on Saturdays as part of the conditions as the scheme was approved.