Save The Garage! Council and TfL vow to protect Highbury music venue amid plans to redevelop old station building

The Garage. Picture: DHP

The Garage. Picture: DHP - Credit: Archant

Transport bosses were today scrambling to defend Highbury’s famous The Garage music venue after a backlash against plans to demolish it and expand the Tube station.

An artist's impression of the new-look station.

An artist's impression of the new-look station. - Credit: Archant

TfL and Islington Council leader Richard Watts have spoken out saying the gig night institution would be protected should the development go through.

Managers at the venue, off Highbury Corner, said they have been told the venue “sits within an area designated for redevelopment”.

The venue has launched a campaign to save itself from the bulldozers amid proposals to build a second entrance for Highbury and Islington.

A council local plan document shows TfL saw The Garage as “a possible new ticket hall” for its planned revamp of Highbury old station. According to the papers, the venue and its next-door neighbour Trevi Ristorante would be “protected or re-provided”, but there were no further details of how or where this would happen.

The entrance to the old Highbury Station, on the Great Northern and City Railway - now the Northern

The entrance to the old Highbury Station, on the Great Northern and City Railway - now the Northern City Line, which still runs through Highbury and Islington. Picture: Lucy Fisher/Flickr/Creative Commons licence CC BY 2.0 - Credit: Archant

It was the first time the scheme had been mentioned by anyone since a grainy artist’s impression appeared in a much more speculative TfL paper a year ago, revealed by the Gazette at the time.

Despite the fact TfL made no mention of The Garage in its original statement to us on Wednesday, it today said developers would be ordered to safeguard the venue’s future.

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A spokesperson for the mayor of London told the Gazette: “The mayor’s Culture at Risk Office has been working with TfL about their early discussions to upgrade Highbury and Islington Tube station, and TfL has been clear to the third party developer that any improvements to the station must not impact The Garage.”

Islington’s chief Cllr Watts said last night: “No one from TfL has approached [Islington Council] about this idea. If they did they’d be told that our planning police protect cultural venues like The Garage and we want to see it kept.”

The Garage. Picture: DHP

The Garage. Picture: DHP - Credit: Archant

Twelve months ago the Gazette did, in fact, reveal that The Garage and Trevi were at risk of demolition to accommodate the new station entrance.

At the time, Cllr Watts tweeted a link to our front page story, but said only: “Demolish Trevi?!? Words will be had!” He made no mention of The Garage.

Today Cllr Watts said: “The Garage is an important part of Islington’s vibrant live music scene and its loss would leave a big hole in the cultural landscape. As a council we have strong policies in place to protect valuable and endangered live music venues just like this.

“To be clear, we have not been approached recently by TfL to discuss any proposals to redevelop the site, and they haven’t submitted any formal plans to us.

“If plans do materialise in the future that include reinstating a second station entrance on the opposite side of Holloway Road, we would assess them against our planning policies, which include ensuring The Garage is protected.”

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