The unpopular plan to develop the former Thomas Brothers into a four-storey residential block with retail outlets on the ground floor (P2014/3815/FUL) was turned down by Islington Council on Tuesday, according to the Islington Gazette.


...Meanwhile, a new fact has come to light. The Land Registry reveals that the new owners paid £6m for the site, even knowing that they could only build four storeys high. Checking the ‘sold’ prices for new flats in the area, even ignoring any cost for demolition and rebuild, and selling at the top of the range, the owners seem set for a loss of as much as £3m. That is very puzzling. (from BAF)
There is a second application to demolish the Thomas Bros building and rebuild as low quality, private housing.
The application is contrary to a raft of Islington policies including on housing quality, preserving the historic environment, and standard of design. However, as there have been some changes compared to the previous version, the case officer says she is minded to recommend approval of the current scheme.
In fact, the alterations are not major - a solid wall overlooking neighbours rather than a balcony (currently they can see sky), a slight reduction to the roof on the new fourth storey, and some minor changes to designs for balconies. The flats are dual aspect, but still include bedrooms over the heavily polluted Holloway Road.

The shop below would still be smaller, and because the new scheme can’t be bothered to step up the building with the slope of the land, would still feature a corner with a squashed frontage, hardly likely to attract much interest from new businesses.
To add insult to injury, despite the 50% affordable housing policy, the applicants only want to pay a small fee to Islington towards affordable housing elsewhere.
An Alternative

There is an alternative application for the site, retaining the shop, and above that using the existing building for blind mixed tenure housing with disabled access and all bedrooms and air circulation at the rear of the property. This would be less damaging for neighbours, more attractive, more sustainable, and offer better quality accommodation. All of this is possible because this alternative scheme has been produced by a qualified and experienced architect. The demolition scheme has not.

The alternative scheme is only just being submitted so your support would be very helpful, writing to planning@islington.gov.uk quoting planning reference P2014/3815/FUL.
It would also be useful to copy local councillors asking them to reject the demolition scheme and support the proposal to re-use the building. Their addresses are janet.burgess@islington.gov.uk, Kaya.ComerSchwartz@islington.gov.uk, Timothy.Nicholls@islington.gov.uk; david.poyser@blueyonder.co.uk; michelline.ngongo@islington.gov.uk and marian.spall@islington.gov.uk. (BAF)


26/6/14 P2014/2101/FUL Comments Until 17/7/14

Demolition of existing buildings and redevelopment of the site to provide a four storey mixed use building comprising 345 m2 A1 retail floors pace at ground floor and no.9 (C3) residential units at first second and third floors (4x 1 beds, 4x 2 beds, 1x 3 bed), with associated amenity space and cycle storage.

Withdrawn 5/8/2014


A slightly strange letter style leaflet has been delivered in the area, announcing that Tesco hopes to open a Tesco Express in the Budgens on Holloway Road.

The letter says that a ‘Tesco Express is a small local shop designed to serve the needs of the surrounding community.’ It also says the store will create ‘up to’ 20 jobs for local people (so presumably fewer than 20), without mentioning the jobs lost with the closure of the Budgens.

The Express is the ‘petrol station forecourt’ size of Tesco store, according to the supermarket’s own web site. According to Wikipedia they are neighbourhood convenience stores, averaging (2,200 sq ft ie a third less than the Archway Co-op), stocking mainly food with an emphasis on higher-margin products such as sweets, crisps, chocolate, biscuits, fizzy drinks and processed food (due to small store size, and the necessity to maximise revenue per square foot) alongside everyday essentials.

Wikipedia adds that: ‘In 2010, it emerged that Tesco were operating Express pricing; i.e., charging more in their Express branches than in their regular branches. A spokesperson said that this was “because of the difference in costs of running the smaller stores”. (BAF)
Although a designated community asset, the Whittington & Cat has now closed and there is an application to develop all around it, making it harder for it to re-open as a viable business. The Lion pub on the corner of Holloway Road and Junction Road has also closed, with no notice, the Good Intent in Wedmore Street, and we hear that the Dartmouth Arms in Dartmouth Park (Camden borough) is also due to shut. Within Islington there is policy to protect pubs, but clearly not powerful enough when faced with developers.


This from the Islington Gazette, 19 March 2018, by Sam Gelder

A stand off over the redevelopment of a historic Archway pub could finally end – after six years of it lying empty. The Whittington and Cat in Highgate Hill was saved from demolition in 2012 when it was made an asset of community value (ACV) by Islington Council during a crusade to protect its pubs. But the owners, who had wanted to convert it into six flats but retain the Victorian facade, closed it anyway, saying it wasn’t making any money. An appeal was dismissed, as was another application last year that would have seen the ground floor used for commercial purposes.

Planners said there was a lack of evidence the building had been on the market for two years continuously and therefore the applicants could not show there was “no realistic prospect” of it being used as a pub in the foreseeable future, as required by the council. But now planners look to have admitted defeat in their bid to protect the The Whittington & Cat, which has stood since the late 1800s and is named after Dick Whittington – who is said to have been on Highgate Hill when he heard the Bow Bells call him back to London.

A fresh application to turn the pub into an offices or retail space has been earmarked for approval. Officers said in their report: “The historic and communal significance of the property, as a pub, at present does not add vitality or vibrancy. “Based on the lack of demand and without the realistic prospect of the public house coming back into use and given the number of years the site has been vacant, it is not considered justified to withhold planning permission in this case. Consideration is also given the limited historical value, the neutral impact the change of use would have on the area and the appropriate nature of the uses proposed, which are considered to enliven the street and bring the premises back into active use.”

A decision will be made by councillors on Tuesday next week (27/3/18).


Thanks to community support, the Whittington & Cat pub on Highgate Hill has been designated a community asset, the first in Islington. This means that if the owner sells it the community has six months in which to raise the funds to buy it. An application to demolish all but the façade and build bedsits was made. Islington refused, the scheme went to appeal and has now been rejected by the planning inspector.

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