Islington Council hooks up with City University to deliver prime affordable workspace

Cllr Asima Shaikh and Alex Elkins outside The Ray Farringdon, home to Better Space

Cllr Asima Shaikh and Alex Elkins outside The Ray Farringdon, home to Better Space, the affordable workspace for local entrepreneurs - Credit: Islington Council

Islington Council has given City University a 10-year contract to manage "genuinely affordable" workspace it has secured in Farringdon. 

The Better Space initiative at The Ray Farringdon will provide prime office space to micro and small businesses at below market rents, and should be up and running by June. 

The 6,000 sq ft site in Farringdon Road - which is also home to the UK HQ of LinkedIn - will act as a social enterprise hub in the borough, providing specialist support to social enterprises and strengthening the wider business community by promoting local supply chains, developing business networks and encouraging responsible practices. 

The Ray Farringdon is home to Better Space, the affordable workspace for local entrepreneurs

The Ray Farringdon is home to Better Space, the affordable workspace for local entrepreneurs - Credit: Islington Council

It has been made possible through the council's affordable workspace strategy, which sees deals forged with building developers, through the council's planning policy, to secure space at "peppercorn" rents for at least 10 years. 

Operators are then appointed to run these spaces and charge below market rents to support local businesses, which are being increasingly priced out of the borough due to high rental and property costs.


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Rather than paying rent, the idea is that City will deliver "significant levels of social value" by delivering employment and skills opportunities for residents and supporting businesses and entrepreneurs.

It will also support the council to meet key objectives such as its carbon neutral 2030 commitment.

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The council says the idea is to create "a more inclusive economy where fairness, social justice and sustainability are at the fore". 

"As we emerge from Covid-19 this will be more important than ever, and through partnerships like this, the council will be there to ensure the local economy bounces back strongly, more jobs are created and local enterprise can thrive," said a spokesperson. 

Alex Elkins, head of entrepreneurship at City, said: “Once finished the space will provide co-working, mentoring and accelerator programmes for residents and young businesses which will build upon Islington’s thriving community and develop new opportunities which are focused on giving back to the borough.” 

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