The Independent London Newspaper


‘Two-finger’ towers are a growing problem as buildings block residents’ views

Concerned citizens and the ever-growing tower in the background

From left: Dame Anne Evans, Cllr Martin Klute, Leo Chapman and John Evans with the ever-growing tower in the background

Published: 7 February, 2014

A TOWER that is beginning to block much-loved and historic views of the Angel was dubbed “Hitchins’ folly” this week after the man who approved it, the former Lib Dem leader of Islington Council, Steve Hitchins.

Angry residents – including retired opera singer Dame Anne Evans – spoke out against the  development at City Road Basin, off City Road, which is currently 25 storeys high and is due to reach 36 floors.

It will soon be joined by another, taller skyscraper that will rise to 42 storeys high.

Dame Anne joined angry residents in Elia Street, a stone’s throw from London Mayor Boris Johnson’s home,  and opposite the Charles Lamb pub built in 1839 and named after the 19th-century essayist. The tower rises in the background.  

St Peter’s ward Labour councillor Martin Klute said he thought the two developments when complete will be the “equivalent of sticking up two fingers to local residents”.

Cllr Klute added: “I was appalled when these two blocks were  originally approved by former Lib Dem council leader Steve Hitchins four years ago.

“It was one of the reasons I decided to enter politics and become a Labour councillor.

“They will dominate the skyline and are completely out of keeping with the area. They should never have been allowed.”  

Dame Anne and her husband John, an author  and former arts editor at The Observer, said it ruined local views.

Dame Anne said it was heartbreaking to lose such of treasured view.

“You don’t realise how tall and obtrusive it is until it starts rising up,” she said.

“I was born and brought up in Islington and always loved its unique architectural styles. But this is a blot on the landscape.”

Local activist Leo Chapman said the tower is now up 25 storeys and has 11 more to go to reach its consented 36.

He added: “In the background is the Canaletto tower rising to 29 storeys. Both will be about as long as the basin  and well out of scale with the basin’s other buildings. We call it ‘Hitchins’ folly’.”



The only growing problem here is the anti-progress old aged pensioners who feel the need to stifle development for their own selfish reasons. How many homes would have to be shelved, how many jobs would be lost, and how much investment would be wasted if these people got their way? And for what? 0.2% less sky to view? They should be ashamed of themselves, to be anti-progress is to be anti-London.

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