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Plans for 475 student homes are thrown out

PUBLISHED: 13:28 15 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:11 14 October 2010

A COMPUTER image of how the scheme would have looked

A COMPUTER image of how the scheme would have looked

AMBITIOUS plans for a 'massive' £30million development of almost 500 student flats behind Finsbury Park Station have been thrown out by Islington Council. Picture framers John Jones Ltd employ 100 people and have been based in Morris Place, Finsbury Park

AMBITIOUS plans for a "massive" £30million development of almost 500 student flats behind Finsbury Park Station have been thrown out by Islington Council.

Picture framers John Jones Ltd employ 100 people and have been based in Morris Place, Finsbury Park, for the last 20 years. Their clients include artists David Hockney and Turner Prize winner Damien Hirst, with whom they recently secured a £3million contract.

With business booming, the firm wants to bulldoze its current warehouses and build a new state-of-the-art workshop and gallery complex.

Matthew Jones, managing director of the family-run business, told an Islington Council planning committee: "We have explored various options for moving but have been unable to meet our requirements.

"John Jones is a well-known business within Islington. Our proposed development has been designed to reflect the character of the area."

Mr Jones said the new HQ and exhibition space would form an "arts hub" in the much-hyped regeneration of Finsbury Park.

Plans for a new Theatre in neighbouring Clifton Terrace are due before the council this autumn.

But the 20,000 square metre "Clerkenwell-style" building would be financed by a six-storey block of 475 student homes - just as the council is trying to limit the spiralling number of student rooms being built across the borough.

Voting against the development with his four Labour colleagues, Councillor Martin Klute said: "I agree the site needs to be regenerated - it's shabby and depressing and offers nothing but weeds and blank walls. But all the surrounding buildings are no more than three storeys high. This is out-scaling them by a scale of two to one."

Sole Liberal Democrat councillor George Allan abstained, urging Mr Jones to rethink his plans for financing the scheme. He said: "We're being asked to accept a massive development of a controversial type of housing of a kind we want to limit in this borough. It could be redeveloped more quickly and more satisfactorily in some other way."

Islington Council is hoping to limit the number of student homes being built in Islington in its new draft core strategy - a set of planning guidelines for the borough which go out for public consultation in November.

If approved, any new student flats could only be built the campuses of City University, in Northampton Square, Finsbury, and London Metropolitan University, in Holloway Road, Holloway. In April, the council approved plans for the 355-home City North development, featuring two 21-storey skyscrapers, in nearby Fonthill Road. The scheme is the brainchild of Jack Morris, chairman of another long-standing Islington family firm.


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