World-renowned Tileyard studios where Mark Ronson and The Prodigy recorded faces battle over future
PUBLISHED: 17:15 10 January 2019
Europe's largest community of independent musicians and creative businesses says it could be forced out of Islington if the council doesn't support the growth of its King's Cross site.
The little-known but highly-regarded Tileyard Studios is home to 85 music studios and 200 businesses in its 150,000 sq ft site off York Way. Mark Ronson, The Prodigy, Lily Allen and Sigala have all recorded there.
Now it needs to expand, and bosses want to buy old warehouses nearby. But they don’t think Islington’s planners are singing from the same hymn sheet as they are.
The town hall’s draft local plan, which is currently being consulted on, wants to keep the units as industrial spaces, preventing its use as offices unless they come as part of a “hybrid” scheme.
Islington Council maintains the studios are “highly valued” and supported by the council. But Tileyard says the plans would threaten its future growth and see it have to move elsewhere to satisfy the demands of its expanding start-ups and prospective new clients.
Co-founder Nick Keynes told the Gazette: “We just want to keep doing what we are doing. There’s something pretty special happening here, but this policy will prevent us from doing that.”
Nick, who was in boyband Ultra in the late 1990s, and co-founder Paul Kempe, had the idea to create the music community on what was in 2011 a “sad, depressed business park” that was 80 per cent vacant.
Now it has some 1,500 people working there, about half of which are from the local area, and a waiting list as long as your arm.
“We are at capacity and we need more room to grow,” Nick wrote in a letter to councillors. “There are many businesses that want to expand or to start their journey with us. Tileyard already employs a significant number of local people. However, there are hundreds more people we can employ, training we can provide and support we can offer to the local community if we are allowed to grow.
“Our future in the borough is at stake. As currently drafted, there would be a presumption against the creation of any new business space which Tileyard and its existing and potential occupiers need.”
Islington’s economy chief Cllr Asima Shaikh said: “The many small businesses around Kings Cross including Tileyard are highly valued.
“We want to protect these small businesses by making sure that they can continue to remain in the area and grow.
“Our draft Local Plan contains strong policies to ensure that space for small businesses is protected and even increased when redevelopment takes place – that means ensuring these businesses are not displaced by the type of large scale office developments that we are increasingly seeing around Kings Cross.”
The consultation finished on Monday.