Islington Council set to get £4million to buy Clerkenwell Fire Station and build 50 homes

A general view of Clerkenwell Fire Station, the country's oldest, which was built in 1872 on Roseber

A general view of Clerkenwell Fire Station, the country's oldest, which was built in 1872 on Roseberry Avenue in Islington north London, which is due to close tomorrow to help meet budget savings of £45 million over the next two years. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The mayor of London has approved a £4million grant so Islington Council can buy the former Clerkenwell Fire Station and build 50 homes.

The town hall will use the cash to buy the historic Roseberry Avenue site from the London Fire Commissioner and build a minimum of 26 genuinely affordable units, with 24 expected to be sold privately.

Of the 26 affordable units, the town hall currently intends to let 20 for social rent and make six available for temporary accommodation at local housing allowance rents.

Islington's housing chief, Cllr Diarmaid Ward, told the Gazette: "This is absolutely brilliant news. It's great that after the legacy of Boris shutting down fire stations we're actually getting to use the fire station for something that really helps people as genuinely affordable homes.

"It's great to continue with the legacy of The Outside Project here to house those most in need, and it will be used to house families and those in desperate need."

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He added: "It would be better to have 100 per cent council homes because we are in desperate need but having some is better than not having any. We have got very strict planning policies where a development must be at least 50pc affordable and, in our own schemes, we would always try to go well beyond that."

Islington South & Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry said: "I speak on behalf of residents when I say we remain heartbroken that Clerkenwell Fire Station closed. But if it can't be a fire station then I'm pleased it's being used to provide homes that Islington so desperately needs. Congratulations to the mayor of London and Islington Council for resolving this issue in the interests of our community."

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Greater London Authority chiefs, who signed off the funding, specified development works on-site must start before January 2022.

The grant money will come from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's small sites fund.

Former mayor Boris Johnson closed the station as part of a 2014 cost-cutting exercise that also saw nine other bases axed.

The Gazette revealed in 2018 the staggering cost of upkeep on the empty building - which had risen to more than £500,000.

In April and May last year, we first reported the fire station would be used as a temporary homeless shelter - and that LGBTQ+ charity The Outside Project would run it.

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