Objectors to plans to build a multi-storey office block have claimed “people in prisons have more rights…to daylight” than they do.

Islington Council’s planning committee discussed proposals to demolish Fitzroy House and Castle House near Old Street station and replace them with a nine-storey building last Thursday (October 12).

At the meeting, four residents spoke to object to the scheme who raised issues concerning the sustainability of the proposed build and the impact the block would have on daylight in their homes.

Some also questioned why the building could not be retrofitted, instead of being re-built.  

Tony O’Loughlin, who has lived in nearby Epworth Street for the last 43 years, claimed that his building “already suffers from poor light”, pleading with councillors not to “make it worse”.

He told the planning committee that of the 19 flats in his block, eight are designated for disabled tenants.

Tony said: “Some tenants hardly ever leave the block – there are six people in wheelchairs, others who have cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, children with autism, breathing difficulties and visual impairment.

“We are some of the most vulnerable constituents. Despite repeated requests…there has been no engagement from the council or the developer.”

He added that residents fear the development, which would stand at 29m high and be just 10m from the block, would block daylight to their flats.

In developer Lion Portfolio’s own daylight assessment, it says that only 12 of the 32 windows facing the new office block would satisfy current building guidelines.

Tony said: “Even people in prisons have more rights when it comes to daylight.”

Hackney’s Cllr Kam Adams and Islington’s Cllr Valerie Bossman-Quarshie also objected to the development.

A spokesperson for the developer at the meeting said that the decision to demolish the buildings and re-build them “is not one that was taken lightly”.

He said: “The exhaustive conclusion was that…[retrofitting] just could not be done.

"The current building is not compatible with both modern policy demands and the market requirements of occupiers.”

A report from planning officers put before the committee claimed that any reductions in daylight from the scheme would not “disproportionately disadvantage” the residents.

But at the planning meeting on October 12, councillors agreed to delay the decision, calling for the applicant to revisit the scheme to mitigate the impacts on daylight and sunlight to nearby residential blocks.

They also said that the applicant should further consult with impacted residents.

A spokesperson for the developer said: “We are grateful for the feedback from the committee, and are looking forward to delivering an industry leading sustainable scheme that will benefit local residents, businesses and the borough as a whole.”