Islington Council acts to block government decision allowing offices in south of borough to become luxury flats

Office blocks in City Road. Picture: Polly Hancock

Office blocks in City Road. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Archant

Islington Council is taking action to stop developers being able to turn offices in the south of the borough into luxury flats at will – potentially costing 62,000 people their jobs.

At the moment, Islington has an exemption to a rule brought in by the government in 2013 that allows offices to be turned into homes without planning permission.

But that exemption, which covers the Central Activities Zone (CAZ), runs out in May, when the government is making the “permitted development” right permanent.

The only way to stop developers having free reign in the area in “one of the world’s most attractive business locations” is to bring in an Article 4 direction ahead of the exemption being lifted. So next week the council’s top table will vote on plans to do just that.

The executive is wasting no time in getting the ball rolling having seen the damage that can be done in the north of the borough, outside of the exempt area.

The Archway Tower office block has been turned into 118 luxury flats for rent, while Hill House down the road is providing another 150 flats ranging from £500,000 for a studio and £725,000 for a two-bed.

A report ahead of the meeting on Thursday states: “The CAZ is the commercial core of London’s economy. The south of Islington falls within the CAZ and 70 per cent of the borough’s jobs are located here.

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“Maintaining and nurturing the CAZ’s economic function is crucial to ensuring the ongoing success of Islington’s economy and its ability to sustain existing and future jobs. Approximately 62,000 jobs could be lost if this direction is not put in place.”

Islington’s CAZ generates £7bn Gross Value Added – the measure of the value of goods and services in the local economy – and accommodates almost half of the borough’s firms.