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I want to share the alternative proposals that we have been developing for the RCS site. 

Low Rise Alternative 1 would place the school under the housing and sink the playground in the same way as Basterfield Lawn and the tennis courts are sunk. This would help with the acoustics of the playground and create extra space to avoid the need for a high rise tower.

Alternative 2 would use the existing primary school building at the rear of the site for the school, and devote the whole of the RCS site to housing. The lease on the school will be up soon and the building will become available. We could get an extra 36 social housing units on the site and create a proper public open space. Basterfield Wood anyone? The cost would be greatly reduced by avoiding relatively expensive high rise construction.

These are not designs for the site; they are just diagrams. It would be appropriate if an international competition were held to design the housing. But we have developed outline plans for each level to check the calculations for areas and units, and both of them match or exceed the current proposals by Hawkins Brown, so we are confident these are realistic alternatives for the site.

Here is a video link to a short video outlining the schemes.

There is another excellent alternative scheme by Fred Scott here.

We welcome your comments and thoughts.

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Alternative 2 looks like a rational approach.  I note Camden successfully brought the old Christopher Hatton back into use as a school some years ago.

Some doubts about the wisdom of block 2 blocking all sunlight to the proposed school...perhaps better to increase the size of blocks 1 & 3? 

I still think the geometry of any new buildings should follow the old school/ fashion college axis and be set off from the listed Golden Lane estate to help define the two elements.

Any idea when the lease on the school (fashion college) comes up?

I assume Alternative 1 is still a gross overdevelopment as it crams both the proposed school and the new housing onto too small a site.

Yes, all good points Iain. There is a bit more space between Block 2 and the playground than it appears from this angle, when we publish the plans it will be possible to check that. Alternative 1 might still be regarded as over-development, but because it creates some amenity space it is actually less dense than the scheme that is currently in for planning.

I have checked the land registry and it appears that the London College of Fashion (University of the Arts) actually own the freehold of the building, so rumours about a lease are incorrect. But the rumours about them moving are true. They plan to be in their new building in the Olympic park by 2021:


As a dim-witted Council Tenant I hope all you clever architects are taking into account the fact that the new Council Housing is supposed to include a decent proportion of larger properties for families?

It's not just about 'units' - it's about homes that will ease the overcrowded conditions that many City Council Tenants are facing. We have already had families on the Estate where young teens have had to share with younger siblings.

Hi David,

You need to refer to Islington's policy DM3.1 for housing mix. You can download it here. Table 3.1, page 31. For Social Rented housing they specify the following:

1-bed 0%

2-bed 20%

3-bed 30%

4-bed 50%

You will notice that the proposals that have been submitted for planning, being predominantly 2-bedroom  do not comply with this mix.  I agree that there should be fewer larger units on the site in compliance with planning policy and would encourage you to write in and make this point to the planning authorities during the current consultation period.

The mix of units and the emphasis on numbers of units over quality of homes was primarily set by the councillors who commissioned the project based on maximising "units" rather than the architects who designed it. I was a council tenant  for twenty years and I think you'll find most architects understand this issue.

The point of our alternative proposals is to show that the exact same square footage of social housing can be built on the site in a style that is compatible with the existing Estate, does not break planning policy on height, density, public space, daylighting and noise and without the isolating effect of a high rise tower


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