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New courtyard offices will leave us in the dark say residents on King’s Cross housing estate

'It will be like living in a prison': Residents fear they will be left staring at brick walls if scheme is approved

16 December, 2016 — By Ella Jessel

Derby Lodge leaseholder Fiona Healey

RESIDENTS are fighting plans to build an office block in the courtyard of a housing estate in King’s Cross, claiming it will block out sunlight and turn their homes into “prisons”.

The Grade II-listed Derby Lodge is a collection of council-owned mansion blocks located across Wicklow Street and Britannia Street, built in the late 18th century as early social housing.

Property firm Balcap RE want to demolish an existing two-storey warehouse in the centre of the “land-locked” courtyard and build a three-storey office with a basement art gallery.

The warehouse building was formerly used as a mirror workshop which has since relocated.

The plans have sparked outrage among residents living in surrounding mansion blocks who argue that the proposed building would block out light and the terraces would overlook their homes. There is also concern that noise and light would spill out from the offices in the evening and disturb residents whose bedrooms would back onto the development.

Fiona Healey, a leaseholder who has lived on the second floor of Derby Lodge for 22 years, said the new building would be right outside her window and leave her staring at a “brick wall”.

“We will lose daylight, sunlight, we will be totally overlooked. It will be totally domineering,” she said.

“Because offices are 24 hours these days we will probably have artificial lighting polluting our bedrooms and living rooms. Most of us have bedrooms overlooking the development site. I will see a brick wall with louvre panels, it will be like living in a prison.”

Derby Lodge plans

How the development will look

Another resident who wrote to the Town Hall calling for the plans to be rejected said: “The current plans are totally unacceptable because of the height and also the unnecessary terraces which would encroach on everyone’s privacy.”

A spokesman for Balcap RE said the scheme was “similar” in scale to a previous development approved for the site and would bring a high-quality office and gallery space to King’s Cross, as well as 55 jobs.

“Careful positioning of windows means that overlooking will not occur to neighbouring properties, and the submission includes a sunlight and daylight report, which concludes that the proposals are appropriate in terms of sunlight and daylight impact,” the spokesman said.

“The terrace has been reduced following consultation with local residents so that its usage will be limited.”

Derby Lodge, formerly known as Derby Buildings, was built by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company (IIDC), founded by philanthropist and Lord Mayor of London Sir Sydney Waterlow, famous for donating Highgate’s Waterlow Park as a “garden for the gardenless”.

The consultation on the proposals for Derby Lodge is currently live on the Town Hall website and neighbours can submit letters of support or objection up until December 21.

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