The Society’s Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday 13 November in the Town Hall. David Gibson, our Chairman, devoted much of his annual report to the challenges faced by the Society in protecting Islington’s environment. In particular, he drew attention to the plan currently being implemented at Highbury Corner, which had been driven through without proper or detailed consultation. The Council claimed that they did not have to provide an environmental impact statement and despite undertakings given had not referred the plan to the Design Review Panel. All the local Amenity Groups had opposed the plan, all the various stakeholders being of the opinion that it would benefit nobody.
The Society continued to put up a spirited resistance to a barrage of planning applications by telecoms companies for new communication kiosks which integrate wi-fi access points with large advertising hoardings, adding to existing street clutter and raising significant privacy issues. Although the companies involved had permitted development rights, the Council appeared to be challenging the majority of applications and supporting the Society’s objections.
There had been some disappointments: the overdevelopment of the Golden Lane site had been agreed by the City of London, and the completion of the Kings Cross Coal Drops shopping centre had confirmed fears that the ‘kissing rooves’ designed by the Thomas Heatherwick Studio failed to compensate for damaging the historic layout of the roof.
The Society had been heavily involved in the current review of Islington’s Locally listed Buildings, which when completed would, it was hoped, influence future planning applications for changes and demolitions of buildings which, though not statutorily protected, contributed significantly to Islington’s character and appeal.
The meeting agreed to reappoint the existing Committee for a further year; and it was reported that David Gibson represented the Society on the Angel Business Improvement District board, Andrew Clayton on the Nags Head Management Group, and Andrew Bosi on the London Forum.
Membership was stable and loyal at around 250, through ways of increasing numbers and influence were always under consideration. Subscription rates would be held at the current level for another year.
The meeting concluded with a Question and Answer session from the floor, at which matters of specific interest were raised by members.