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Plan for 350 student rooms on Caledonian Road rejected

March 8, 2010

The 'Mallet & Porter' building and the old plumbing supply shop next door

There’s nothing wrong with students! But there is a growing consensus that too much student housing may disrupt the balance of our communities and take development sites which have greater potential for ordinary housing – especially affordable homes.

Additional purpose-built student housing does not release any existing homes that are occupied by students. That’s why Councillors have unanimously rejected plans for a huge student development next to Caledonian Road station.

The south of Islington has seen a sharp increase in purpose-built student housing. It’s not terribly surprising though. The Borough is home to two universities (London Met and City) and we are quite near to Bloomsbury which is dominated by the University of London precinct. But Islington now has the second highest concentration of student housing anywhere in London.

The Council has an “emerging” planning policy known as the Local Development Framework Core Strategy. This explicitly rules-out any more purpose-built student housing anywhere other than the campus areas surrounding the Borough’s two universities. But the law requires Islington to take its time in adopting the new Core Strategy. So, it will not be finally adopted until later this year after a Government appointed inspector has conducted an “Examination in Public”.

In the meantime, applications to develop student housing have flooded in. The latest scheme would have meant a huge new building of between 6 and 8 storeys built into the façade of the historic “Mallet and Porter” warehouse building. Behind this would have been an 11 storey tower block rising above the neighbourhood. There are already 300 student places at Piccadilly Court next door to this site and a further 600 places in a development almost adjacent on Market Road. Within a tight triangular site, there would therefore be around 1,250 student rooms built.

The scheme was rejected because its bulk, mass and height were unacceptable, because on-street servicing would be inadequate and because the height of the 11 storey tower would have meant insufficient daylight reaching some rooms in the development.

Paul Convery, chair of the West Area planning committee said “There is no doubt that London benefits from Higher Education and that University College London (which would have taken-on the development) is an outstanding institution. Redevelopment of this site – to also include some retail and office space – would provide a welcome revitalisation of this stretch of Caledonian Road. However, this building was too large. And, although Councillors could not rely on the emerging policy towards student housing, we were clear in our minds that this development would represent an excessive concentration of students in a very small area.”

Rupert Perry added that “All 6 members of the planning committee were students at some time in our lives. So we certainly aren’t anti-student. What we want to avoid is excessive concentrations of purpose-built student housing. Our neighbourhoods need a more stable population and, for obvious reasons, this type of accomodation has the opposite effect.”

See also: http://www.islingtontribune.com/news/2010/mar/make-flats-affordable-notting-hill-housing-trust-told

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurie Cockburn permalink
    March 15, 2010 7:07 pm

    The warehouses that exist on this site have been left by the council and their employees as milk cows.Their is no unloading allowed along that section of Caledonian Road resulting in parking fines for all.The large ‘artic’ lorries that messers.Salvo have to unload takes at the very minimum 45 minutes.The plumbing outlet,for 30 years in the immediate area,lost so much business because of the overzealous parking attendants they had to move to Archway.

    6000 students are due to move into premises off York Way in September and currently there is by Savills calculations, some 19962 full time students in Islington and only 5822 purpose built bed spaces,the shortfall,no doubt being housed in the private sector therby reducing the number of family accomadation units available in the area.(students usually are prepared to pay more than family units making renting to students more attractive)

    I have an interest in this site and had arranged with the Developer to commit £6million into socially accetable areas thereby helping a more vulnerable section of the community.

    I hope this helps with local peoples thoughts about this site.
    Yours L.Cockburn

  2. May 4, 2010 2:42 pm

    Although I respect the previous respondent and their views I have to say that as a nearby resident the rejection of this plan is a cause for celebration.

    In the rush to fit as many students into one building as possible the planning company seem to have forgotten about the people who have purchased private housing in the area and are becoming swamped by students. I would have been one of those affected by a lack of sunlight and, in my opinion, high rise student bedsits are not a good reason to block out the sun from a council tax paying member of the Islington population. Well done Councillors!

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