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Design for key building at Angel crossroads is dull and will not enhance the area, says Association

P2022/0871, 1 Torrens Street, Angel Association, August 2022


1. This is the Angel Association’s comments on and objections to the 1 Torrens Street office led development proposal – P2022/0871. The Angel Association is the local amenity association for this neighbourhood area.

2. This is one of the most prominent development sites in Islington. The local topography offers a prominent site located on the hilltop marking the key and historic Angel road junction. The site also signals the entrance to the busy Angel area, and to City Road, and therefore deserves a building of strong character and appropriate scale to reflect this significant context.   

3. This proposed development would replace the post-modern development designed by Rock Townsend. The design of the RT development with its varying height, varied and mostly brick finishes and articulated design attempted to reflect its prominent and historic location. It also carefully reflected the site’s association with other key local buildings, notably the Angel building with its dominant dome on the opposite corner. The position is indeed iconic.  

The Development Proposal

4. The proposal’s main design challenge derives from stripping off the external finish of the existing building, revealing its core structure, using that core structure and attempting to embellish it to provide a finished appearance. It is claimed this has environmental benefits. The core structure is strictly rectilinear and repetitive and the proposed design necessarily follows this. The finished design is dictated by this core structure and this imposes major limitations on the design. This has resulted in a proposal which is dull and not designed to enhance this important site and its context, but which instead simply flows from an existing construction form. Overall the proposal is higher and bulkier and therefore more unattractively dominant than the building it would replace. 5. We have noted the discussions with the Council’s Design Review Panel and their serious reservations and proposals for improving the design. We consider that the

amended design where corners are chamfered, the relationship between the fenestration and building frame is marginally improved. The design, however, is still clearly strongly derived from the construction core with its limitations in articulation and variety, and the too limited marking of corners, particularly at the City Road/Islington High Street corner.

6. We note the changes made to mark the main entrance of the building on Islington High Street. The entrance is a very important feature not least because it breaks up an otherwise very long monotonous frontage all along this part of the High Street. This proposal should, but does not, make a major contribution to animating the Angel area. There is a proposal for a café accessed through the main entrance, and also a publicly accessible concession, again within the building’s ground floor lobby area. The existing pub on the corner of City Road and Torrens Street is retained within the proposal. Essentially, however, there is very limited street level animation.

7. We note that there was meant to be retail activity along street level in the adjoining large RBS building immediately to the north of this site, also a central part of the Angel retail and business district. This never materialised. The risk is that what should be a long length of busy, animated, high street simply becomes largely a dead frontage.

8. We recognise the possible benefits of the new pathway along the north side of the building linking to Torrens Street. This would be a narrow pathway which the public may avoid if it seems unsafe and insecure. The existing public courtyard space would be lost.

Torrens Street

9. This is potentially an interesting historic short street, cut short and blocked at its northern end by the RBS building. Torrens Street itself is uncared for and further marred by TfL’s very poor treatment of the old historic Angel Tube Station entrance. This building is uncared for and has extensions encroaching onto the pavement. There is no prospect of Torrens Street becoming a pleasant area without substantial improvement and containment of this TfL station building. Torrens Street and the old tube entrance are not the responsibility of the proposed developer, and we strongly hope that the Council, TfL and the developer will work together to radically improve Torrens Street.

Design Brief

10. The proposed development adjoins the large RBS office building, which has been empty for over two years with no sign of reoccupation. It is likely to be redeveloped. Taken together these are the most significant sites in Islington, and they deserve a Council design brief for the whole area. It would be very useful to guide developers and others if the Council now prepared a masterplan or design brief for this very important part of Angel Town Centre.


11. Whilst there have been some improvement to the proposed scheme during the planning process, the proposal remains lacking in ambition, without the distinction or status that such a prominent site deserves. The bulk of the proposed building is substantially greater than the existing, the proposed facades are anonymous, without variety or hierarchy and there is very little activity/engagement at street level despite its significant High Street setting. The loss of the existing right of way is regrettable and, whilst the scheme includes a new entrance to Torrens Street much work will be required to meet the stated aspirations for Torrens Street and there is no detailed plan to achieve these aspirations.




The greening of Islington

Do you know an outdoor space that could be a fruit orchard or a wild flower garden? The council is looking for applications from community groups, businesses or individuals for projects that could green the borough.

The council’s Greenspace team will build and plant the area and then hand it over it over to be maintained by the community.

The deadline for applications – forms are on the council’s website – is 29 April and the successful projects with be announced at the end of June.

Funding will be targetted at areas that will most benefit from new green space.

The council is looking for long-term commitment to the maintenance of the green space, but it will maintain overall liability for managing the asset.

Green space on the canal planted by the Angel Association
Forgotten space that could be a wildflower garden
Daffodils planted by Friends of Vincent Terrace.

River Head site to become Quentin Blake gallery

The site of the former water pumping plant at New River Head just off Amwell Street in Islington is to be the new home of the Quentin Blake House of Illustration.
This industrial heritage site was where fresh water arrived in London via the New River, an artificial channel that meandered steadily but gently downhill over 40 miles from Hertfordshire. Since it was completed in 1613 it has been instrumental in London’s water supply: for testing labs, water offices, pumping stations and reservoirs . The central round pond was drained in 1913.

The buildings that have stood unused since the 1950s are to be used for galleries, exhibitions, classrooms and café.

Work on transforming the site has started, but the Quentin Blake arts and education charity needs to raise £12 million. The main buildings are the base of the eighteenth century windmill; the huge engine house and the coal store.

Coal store
Base of windmill
Boiler room

Pictures by Anna Turk

Plan for new building at the heart of Angel

Preliminary plans for a new block to replace the offices over the entrance to Islington tube station have been submitted to the council. Tishman Speyer want to demolish the existing block and replace it with a bland square structure. The detail can be found at

The developers are asking for comments on their pre-planning application by 15 February. It will be possible to submit comments to the council when the full planning application is submitted.

From this:

Sale of Angel Square EC1 to Tishman Speyer image
Angel Square – now

To this -pre-planning application

Fr Evan Jones’ funeral

Fr Evan Jones was the much loved priest of St James’ Prebend Street for many years, 1992 – 2008. Very sadly he died on 8 January He had been living in one of the Church’s almhouses next to St James’.

Evan’s funeral has now been arranged. It will be at 11am on Monday 14 February at the Church of St John of Jerusalem, Lauriston Rd, Hackney E9 7EY, followed by a committal at City of London Crematorium.

The celebrant will be the Rt Rev Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon (formerly Assistant Priest with Evan at St James’), assisted by the Rev Fiona Weaver (former curate to Evan), and the Rev Canon Justin Gau.

Everybody who knew Evan will be very welcome. St John of Jerusalem is an enormous church so there will be no problem about social distancing. Parking however is a nightmare so public transport or a taxi is recommended.


Electric cars missing from monitoring of people friendly streets

The Angel Association has submitted its response to Islington Council on the findings of the report on the implementation in St Peter’s Ward of the People Friendly Streets (PFS) trial.


  1. This is a response to the recent monitoring report on the introduction of PFS in St Peter’s Ward published on the Council website. The report can be found at
  2. This response also has regard to the Transport Strategy for the borough, adopted in 2020 and available at
  3. This response from the Association raises a number of  strategic issues on which we would welcome the Council’s comments.
  4. It also poses a number of questions about the findings of the Monitoring Report, on which we would like to have clarification.
People- friendly streets has meant roads closed to traffic

Strategic issues

  • The PFS Trial adds to significant previous measures in the Ward to calm and limit traffic. These previous measures include stopping up streets, narrowing streets and building width restrictions, street humps and a 20mph speed limit. Taken together these have had very significant traffic restricting and traffic calming results.
  • Also, in inner London in particular, there has been a significant fall over many years in car use and discretionary private car journeys. This has resulted from public transport improvement, bus lanes and other road use restrictions, car parking costs and the growth of car free developments.
  • The stated objectives of the PFS initiative, consistent with the Islington Traffic Strategy, are to make roads in the borough healthier, safer and cleaner.
  • There are two important points in the overall traffic strategy mentioned at para 2 above which have a bearing on PFS: one is the Council’s commitment to incentivise the adoption of electric vehicles in place of petrol/diesel; and the second is to promote the concept of “the 15 minute City”, ie a 15 minute walking/cycling distance to access key amenities such as town centres in the borough.
  • We are therefore surprised and disappointed that the PFS monitoring report, as far as we can see, makes no mention of electric vehicles.  None of the extensive analysis of vehicle flows referred to in the monitoring report distinguishes between electric and non-electric vehicles. We suggest that this is a serious gap in the analysis.
  • We would like to understand how the traffic restrictions put in place to enforce PFS also have regard to the needs of local businesses, whose continued ability to operate underpins the success of the “15-minute city” concept. We know from analysis provided by the local Business Improvement District that the PFS related traffic restrictions restrict business activity by making journeys longer, with congestion delays on the boundary roads. Further, the “vehicle by type” analysis in the Council’s report makes no distinction between, for example,  taxis serving the disabled, business deliveries, building  maintenance vehicles and general vehicle journeys.   
  •  We would also point out that a modal shift to cycling does not necessarily lead to safer streets – contrary to the underlying premise of the initiative. Unsafe driving by cyclists, including the illegal use of pavements, lack of lights, and a failure to respect pedestrian crossings, contributes to anecdotal evidence that many pedestrians, especially older or frail people, are feeling increasingly threatened by aggressive cycling behaviour.  The increasing use of electric scooters and other two-wheel electric “bikes” on our roads, and pavements, is also cited by local respondents as a source of increasing anxiety for pedestrians.
  • A further strategic issue is the choice of physical barriers – bollards etc – as a way of enforcing the traffic restrictions.  We recognise that the traffic restrictions put in place across St Peter’s are in principle temporary, and their continuation is subject to further public consultation. However, in the light of the commitment in the Council’s Traffic Strategy to the use of technology, we would expect to see serious consideration being given, if the PFS initiative is continued after further consultation, to the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology to make local roads accessible to local residents and essential business traffic while blocking them to rat runners.  

Commentary on the report

The statistical basis

  1. An important statistical issue is to disentangle the effects of the PFS trial from the wider effects of the economic slowdown taking place when the PFS trial was in place. The report states that this has been done by, in effect, adjusting the traffic flows in order to isolate the PFS effects (“normalising”). This is a standard statistical procedure. However, by implication, it imputes the whole of any residual effect on traffic movements to PFS – rather than being able to separate PFS effects from other behavioural effects, eg working from home. We would suggest that these separate behavioural effects could better be identified by a properly structured sample survey that captures changes in behaviour.

Air pollution

  1. The monitoring report states that there has been no significant difference in changes in air quality in St Peter’s compared to the whole borough. This is a puzzling statement. We would have expected a PFS trial to have had a positive effect. We would welcome clarification on this point.


15. The report states:

“There is a mixed picture in terms of the change in motorised traffic volumes on boundary roads. Overall across boundary roads, the total changes in volumes of traffic show a negligible change, which is a positive outcome in line with the objectives of the scheme”.

This is a disappointingly weak conclusion.  These measurements of flows do not capture the evident congestion and significant traffic delays which are adding to the pollution, and concern, experienced by people living on and using these roads. 


16. We would welcome comments on the strategic issues raised at paras 8 – 12   above.

17. We would welcome clarification on the detailed comments at paras 13-15 above.

October 1921

Angel Association

Duncan Terrace gardens is medal winner across London

Duncan Terrace Gardens has again received a Gold medal in the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual London in Bloom competition. Amazingly, the garden was also awarded overall winner in the Small Parks category. Given the quality and calibre of other sites, this was a great achievement.  Congratulations from the Angel Association.

The Angel Association is one of the sponsors of Islington in Bloom.

Money for music – AGM at Frederick’s

This year’s fund-raiser held at Frederick’s raised money for music provision at Hanover School.

Vivien Cutler, talked about this summer’s school for primary pupils in Islington.

The way ahead: chairman’s report for the AGM

 At last we are beginning to escape from Covid’s impacts though we are all being careful. Last year we had a virtual AGM, this year we are able to meet at Frederick’s.

Despite the constraints on us all we have been active and engaged and your Association has taken a close interest in St Peter’s developments, engaging with the Council and our local partners.

The two main local issues, though very different, are Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the forthcoming boundary changes to our Ward. Everyone agrees that traffic needs to be managed and over the years our area has seen a range of initiatives and changes including street closures, lower speed limits and car share schemes. Widespread use of electric cars is clearly coming. Many wish to see a number plate recognition scheme to give mobility preference to local residents who otherwise have to make long convoluted journeys along crowded main streets. The Council have announced a local on-line consultation about the scheme so do give your views by the closing date 11 October 2021.

We strongly objected to the proposed Ward boundary changes, we lose our natural boundaries of Essex Road, New North Road, the Canal and City Road. For the 2022 Council elections onwards the Ward shifts south to cross City Road and loses much of Arlington and the Popham areas. We will consider with members whether for Angel Association purposes it is better to operate within the old boundary which is coherent and where there is a strong sense of community.

We continue to support a range of good local causes including sponsoring the planting of street trees, the Angel Boat which does such good work for disadvantaged children, we previously supported the St Peter’s Project which enlivens disadvantaged children’s holidays, we plant and maintain the very popular Canal towpath area by City Road Basin. We have developed a good relationship with the Canal and River Trust and individual members have become part of the anti graffiti initiative to help keep the towpath area pleasant and welcoming.

We are in the early stages of an Asset of Community Value initiative to try to keep the Elia Street Charles Lamb pub in business. This was a very popular local, now recently closed, and we are planning to be part of the group to try and encourage its reopening. We will keep members up to date as this initiative progresses.

We keep abreast of planning applications and comment where we consider that applications don’t respect the character neighbourhood, recognising that everyone is entitled to propose sensible changes to their property. Mansards are a continuing issue with, in some cases, developments not keeping to the agreed rules and in other cases homeowners are concerned that it’s challenging to get permission to build mansards on listed properties.

We keep in close touch with Islington’s Business Improvement District,, who do such good work keeping our town centre safe and clean. The Collins Theatre saga at the corner of Islington Green and Essex Road continues, the ground floor properties remain boarded up with no resolution with the Council in sight.

Your Committee greatly welcomes members’ support and do contact us about local issues. We are always looking for Committee members and contact us if you want to join the Committee :

Eric Sorensen

Chairman, Angel Association

September 2021.

Contact us at:

Obituary: Vicky Wisher

“We are sad to announce the death of Vicky Wisher, the Hon Sec of the Association in the 80s and 90s. Here is an obituary of Vicky from John MacGowan, previous chair of the Association. If any member has memories and photos of Vicky to share, we would be happy to post them on the site.”

                                          Vicky Wisher    1940-2021

Vicky Wisher, who died on 12 April, was the very enthusiastic and energetic secretary of the Angel Association for many years in the 1980’s and 90’s.

Vicky was very keen to see both the preservation of the local environment and to look for improvements where they could be made . She was an eagle eyed viewer of planning applications  and always prepared to object when a scheme would be harmful to the neighbourhood. She was also very involved with the Angel Association’s support of the campaign to stop Islington Council building a lorry park in Graham Street and to create a children’s playground instead which is what we have today.

Vicky also immersed herself in the social aspects of the Association. She was a very good cook and an excellent hostess at membership parties .

Vicky retired early from her job at BP having bought a house in Sorèze, near Toulouse ,with the intention of splitting her time between Islington and France . For a while she remained as the secretary of the Angel Association but retired from the role when she started to spend more time in France.

Sadly Vicky was not fully able to enjoy the fruits of the life that she had created for herself as she developed Alzheimer’s Disease and spent her last seven years in care.