July 24 2014 Latest news:
by Amie Keeley
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
A community campaign to buy back Clerkenwell Fire station has been given a huge boost.
Islington Council has succeeded in listing the 140-year-old station as an “asset of community value” meaning the site cannot be sold on the open market for at least six months.
The decision will give local groups the time to develop a proposal and raise cash to bid for the property.
The station, which is the oldest in Britain, was one of 10 closed across the capital earlier this year as part of plans to save millions of pounds.
The move prompted widespread opposition from the community and seven councils – including Islington – fought the plans but lost their battle at the High Court.
It sparked a campaign to save the building from being sold-off and being turned into flats.
The council confirmed last week that it had included the building on its list of community assets under the Localism Act following a successful nomination by civic amenity group, the Amwell Society.
Under the terms of the Act, the owner – London Fire Brigade (LFB) – is not obliged to sell to a community group which bids for the property and it can also request a review of the decision to list the building.
Islington Council’s community safety chief, Paul Convery, said: “Getting the station listed gives six months breathing space for community bids to come forward.”
He said the council is also developing a planning brief for the station which will require any future use of the site to include community facilities and affordable housing.
“This will make it much harder for an investor from the Gulf to build a five star hotel or whatever a Russian oligarch wants to do with it and tilts the balance in favour of community supported schemes.”
A public consultation on the planning brief is due to take place and is expected to be adopted in the autumn.
Cllr said: “The real prize will be to maintain and keep the building for the public rather than it being sold-off to the private sector.”
A spokesman from the fire service said they are still considering a response to the decision.
In March Freedom of Information figures revealed that more than £100,000 of public money will be spent on security measures at the empty station over the next year to prevent vandalism and squatters getting in.
A spokesman from LFB said: “We have not had formal confirmation that a decision has been taken and we are still considering our response to the application. We will continue to work with Islington Council on this matter.”