Bad news for Barnsbury Square

The controversial planning application for the old furniture factory site has finally won approval on appeal.

Barnsbury Square may not have the dramatic size of Thornhill Square or Gibson Square or striking design of Lonsdale Square; but it is the historic heart of Barnsbury, as Mountfort House is built on the site of the original moated manor house. Barnsbury Square is three-sided with Thornhill Road at one end, and Mountfort House as the centrepiece at the other. The other buildings in the Square are an interesting mix of old and new, but the are all set back or sideways on, so that Mountfort House has pride of place.

Now that’s going to change. Next to Mountfort House is a disused furniture factory, unobtrusive and set back from the road. The plans will replace that with three-storey glass building plus basement with a car lift, with a mix of flats and business units.

As a councillor in Barnsbury, I worked with the local residents’ association to see off similar proposals in the past. It was a privilege to campaign with them. Barnsbury Square Residents Association is well-organised, and passionate about their area. It’s wrong to characterise them as nimbies. Another development we worked together to defeat would have seen a private nursery school effectively take over the public gardens in the square. Conservation areas are our urban landscape, as precious as protected countryside. It’s not selfish to try and preserve them for the benefit of all to enjoy, now and in the future.

The fact that we won some battles on the way means the buildings now approved are less intrusive than the original ones; but it’s still a great disappointment that the war is now lost. For political reasons, Barnsbury’s Labour councillors focused on the lack of affordable housing in the development; a fair point, but not the major objection. The wrong design would still be the wrong design, whatever its use. I hope that this didn’t weaken the case against the development.



  1. […] last year; the developers then appealed against this decision and it went to a planning inquiry which found in the developer’s favour. The Council has now decided to seek a judicial review of this decision in the High Court. This is […]

  2. I would like to advertise an Garage in the local area. In your news letter. Please inform on how I do this.

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