Outcry prompts rethink on wind-up of block’s community facilities

Community facilities at a housing block have been saved.

Islington Council announced earlier this year that it was terminating the licence for residents of Charles Rowan House, in Margery Street, Clerkenwell, to use a two-bedroom flat in the building as its community room.

But there was outcry from the tenants and residents association of the building, which had regularly used it for activities, meetings and gatherings over the years.

In response to the concerns it was agreed at the council’s executive meeting earlier this month that �50,000 would be allocated from the ward improvement plans budget to refurbish a large unused basement at the block to use as an alternative community space.

Councillors Steph Charalambous and Raphael Andrews (Labour) said it was their investigations and campaign for funding from the council that secured the new community space for Charles Rowan House residents.

Cllr Charalambous said: “Charles Rowan House has always belonged to the community, since it was first built in the 1920s to house Metropolitan Police families. The new community room in the refurbished basement will provide much more space for residents than the abandoned flat already in use.

“This will allow residents and community groups to continue with, and expand their activities such as their gardening projects.”

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Clerkenwell councillor George Allan (Liberal Democrats), who also urged the council to reconsider their proposals, said: “I am glad Labour has at last recognised the need for Charles Rowan House to continue to have somewhere to meet.

“I have been campaigning against the Labour proposals since February.

“The existing community room isn’t much but we will have to see whether what is now being proposed is fit for purpose.”