Islington Council to secure affordable rents and museum at Clerkenwell Fire Station site

Clerkenwell fire station

Clerkenwell fire station - Credit: Archant

Foreign investors hoping to snap up Clerkenwell Fire Station will have to follow a strict planning brief laid out by Islington Council.

The brief, which will go before the council’s executive tonight, sets out that any development at the station should have the maximum amount of affordable housing, a museum and open space for the community.

The framework is a response to a public consultation over the building in Rosberry Avenue, which was the country’s oldest fire station before it was closed by Boris Johnson as part of massive cuts to the service in January.

Among demands made by local residents was that any homes built at the six storey Victorian building, which was put on the market by The London Fire Brigade (LFB) in June, should go to those living in the area – to prevent buy to let owners using them as a cash cow.

Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing, said: “We want to make sure that any housing that is provided has a large proportion of affordable rents and as many homes at social rent as possible.

“With any land in Islington there are always developers looking to make money out of expensive private housing, look just across the road at the Mount Pleasant site where Boris Johnson recently allowed nearly 700 homes at rents unaffordable for most people.

“We’re very keen to guarantee social rents at as many of the homes as possible.”

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The council managed to delay the sale of the building for six months back in March when it was listed as an “asset of community value”.

It had been hoped this might give community groups a chance to raise funds to buy the property but has at least given the council time to consult the community and come up with the brief.

Cllr Paul Convery, executive member for community safety, said: “What we’re making sure of is that if a Russian oligarch walks in to City Hall with a big wad of money they couldn’t build whatever they fancy because of the planning brief.

“Obviously everybody would like it to still be an operational fire station but the Mayor and the LFB have taken their decision on that.

“Second best is to keep in tact the heritage of that building and we are now working very hard to locate the fire brigade museum there.”

Former Islington Council leader Terry Stacey, and former Lib Dem member of the fire authority, said: “I’m delighted at the idea of there being a museum and pleased that there is going to be affordable housing on site.

“The museum keeps public access. What I would hope the council would ensure is sustainable income for the museum, perhaps giving it a proportion of the rent from flats.”

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