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Time Out’s No.1 music venue, the Union Chapel, under threat

Posted at 8:00 am, November 7, 2012 in News
Union Chapel © Andrew Firth

Here at Time Out Towers we all love Islington’s Union Chapel – and so do you. Time Out readers voted it the capital’s best music venue back in September, so we were shocked to hear that its future is under threat by plans for a new housing development which will be built directly behind the chapel site. The venue is concerned that noise from the chapel, in particular before and after gigs, will fuel a slew of noise complaints from neighbours, which, along with fears over increased traffic congestion around the building, could force the venue to compromise its programming or even close down.

The chapel has stressed that it is not opposed to the development, which has been proposed by Notting Hill Housing, but is asking that the developers look at sound-proofing the chapel and providing a loading bay at the back of the buildings to help ease noise and congestion in the area, scale down the density of the building and move it further back from the chapel site.

‘Notting Hill Housing has listened carefully to the feedback we received during our local consultation meetings. As a result we have made substantial changes to our plans. For example we have cut back the number of homes provided from 134 to 90, reducing the height of the building considerably and have moved the buildings further to the south of the site so that the view of the Union Chapel is protected. We now believe we will be providing beautiful new homes in the area, in a way that is respectful to the historic and very special Union Chapel’, Kate Davies, Chief Executive, of Notting Hill Housing told Time Out.

‘We support and encourage the continued use of the Union Chapel as an important venue for functions and music events. As the Chapel is already in a residential area, the planning inquiry did not consider the issue of noise to be a problem, but we have incorporated high levels of sound insulation into our design nevertheless. Our plans include the provision for funds to the Chapel which can be used if they would like to consider extra noise insulation in their own building, and we also believe that the Council is considering further assistance [regarding noise insulation] ’added a spokesperson for Notting Hill Housing.

Controversy over the development has been ongoing since 2009, when Notting Hill Housing first proposed plans which were turned down after an outcry by local community and conservation groups who opposed the development’s height. Those plans have been amended to make the buildings lower, but campaigners say the plans don’t go far enough. A decision on the development will be made by Islington Council’s Planning Committee on November 12. Rebecca Taylor

UPDATE

The council met this week and the decision has been deferred until December 4 on the basis that the developers Notting Hill Housing would come back with more provision for affordable housing in their plans. Cllr Robert Khan, chair of the planning committee said:

‘There’s a desperate need for more affordable housing in Islington. The current proposal would mean 50 per cent of the units are affordable, but the strong independent advice we received said there was scope for more. Because of that we have asked the developers to explore a greater contribution towards much needed affordable housing.

‘We were however persuaded that the activities of the superb Union Chapel would be safeguarded and that the heritage objections could be overcome on the basis of the changes from the previous rejected scheme. But we were determined that no avenue should be left unexplored in trying to increase the affordable housing element.’

Sign the petition and support the Union Chapel at change.org.uk; find upcoming gigs at the Union Chapel.

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