Decision on Morris+Company’s Islington office scheme deferred – again

The firm previously said it had considered a retrofit but that the current building was not efficient. It claimed that, even if it carried out a refurbishment now, the building may still have to be knocked down in about 50 years.

The new building’s ‘loose-fit, long life’ philosophy would, Morris + Company claimed, allow future deep retrofits over the next 100 years and beyond.

Residents of an assisted living complex near the site have previously spoken to the Islington Gazette about their concerns over the proposals. 

Committee chair councillor Martin Klute argued the building’s two upper floors should be ‘set back to a point where they’re not visible from the public realm’.

Karen Katz, from nearby Zetland House, added ‘the [existing] building seems to currently function perfectly adequately as offices’, pointing to the high office occupancy rate, adding it seemed ‘incredibly greedy’ to knock it down ‘to build something three times its size’. 

But local objectors have repeatedly hit out at the plans on grounds of sustainability, size and noise pollution. One local resident, designer Dinah Casson, described the new building as a ‘bully’.

Client Capreon
Project manager Blackburn & Co.
Architect Morris + Company
Engineering (M&E) and sustainability Hoare Lea
Structural engineer Heyne Tillet Steel (HTS)
Quantity surveyor Exigere
Façade engineer Eckersley O’Callaghan (EOC)
Planning consultant DP9
Transport and infrastructure Steer
Fire consultant Hoare Lea
Landscape architect LDA Design
Townscape and visual impact assessment KM Heritage
Verified views Cityscape Digital
Building control Socotec


Tony O’Loughlin, who lives at 10 Epworth Street, told the local newspaper: ‘How is the council going to protect all the hugely vulnerable people in our block against the dangers of essentially living on a building site for years?’

Project data

Under the proposals as they stand, Morris + Company intends to knock down the three-and-four-storey 1969 Castle House in Paul Street and the linked Fitzroy House on Epworth Street, and build a seven-storey block with a two-storey basement in their place.

Among other arguments for demolition, they also claimed that the ‘monotonous massing and high, repetitive façades’ of the current buildings were ‘incongruous with the surroundings’, many of which are warehouse buildings from the 19th and 20th century.

Morris + Company director Joe Morris told the AJ: ‘The team is grateful for the feedback from the committee and we are looking forward to delivering an industry-leading, sustainable scheme that will benefit local residents, businesses and the borough as a whole.’

Islington planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval before both committee meetings.

The new scheme would be 30m high and have a gross internal area of 32,541m², compared with 11,475m² in the current building. Some 28,411m² of that would be offices, with shops and a gym making up the rest.

An in-depth analysis by the practice of a possible retention and extension scheme concluded the new-build scheme proposed was ‘the more sustainable option overall and ultimately the more viable and deliverable scheme’ – even though it did involve a marginal increase in embodied carbon.

However, addressing the applicants after the vote, Klute insisted: ‘We do want to work with you to get to a point where we can approve this building.’ He added: ‘I’m always a great believer in trying to keep the ball in play.’

The proposed development at Castle and Fitzroy House

The practice’s plans, which propose the demolition of two office blocks in Islington to be replaced with a taller building, have proved controversial, with local groups and residents concerned about the new scheme’s size and sustainability. 

It is the second time the council has pushed back its decision on the £189 million scheme for developer Lion Group. The application was deferred at a previous planning committee on 18 July to give the architects more time to address the quality of affordable workspace and the whole-life carbon assessment, as well as impact of the scheme on residents, for all of which Morris + Company has submitted additional information in the interim.

In a planning committee meeting on 12 October the council voted to defer its decision so Morris + Company can ‘revisit’ the scheme to re-assess and address daylight and sunlight, consultation and massing concerns.