An “iconic” skyscraper can be built besides Old Street Tube station despite being taller than Islington Council’s planning policy allows.
The 150-metre-high tower will provide workspace, low-cost offices for start-ups, and rooms the community can use.
However, it is 50 per cent higher than allowed by Islington’s planning policy and developers had to prove it offered exceptional benefits.
Applicant Endurance Land wants to partially demolish the Immarsat building on the junction of City Road with Old Street roundabout which has been redeveloped with tower blocks.
Architect John Bushell said the team challenged themselves to ensure if they built “taller and slimmer” they would fit other policies and offer benefits to the community. It will also create more office space to the area, including affordable space.”
He said: “It’s a rare site. We think the tube station deserves a landmark marker.”
The tower is near Wesley’s Chapel and Bunhill Fields which are important heritage sites.
The developers said even towers 105m high, which are allowed in the local plan could be seen from some vantage points, such as at the far side of the chapel courtyard.
Emma Smith of the Islington Society said she was concerned that the plan challenged the new local plan whilst the ink is barely dry on it. Islington’s Executive signed it off last week.
We fear granting this is dangerously setting a precedent before the ink is really dry on the plan.”
She said: “We are disappointed with the height. We are concerned about the
impact on the town scape and the local area.”
Alex Nightingale from the Tabernacle Street residents told the planning committee: “We have concerns regarding the substantial increase to noise and disturbance with an increased amount of traffic.”
Kevin Machin from the Imperial Building said he was concerned about the drop in water pressure over recent years and gentrification of the building.
The applicant said the building should not generate much traffic and with the increase in electric car use it should not be noisy.
They said it would be four times more efficient than the previous building.
The scheme will also employ 75 apprentices a year and support the council’s own LIFT scheme helping people in employment.
The scheme was passed, despite calls by several councillors to defer and for the applicants to reconsider the height.