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Green light for Islington Council’s £2million plan to create affordable workspaces

Islington Council’s £2million plans to create new affordable workspaces, new jobs and opportunities for start-ups and entrepreneurs has today been given the green light.

The council successfully bid for a £1.03million grant from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, which will be matched pound-for-pound by Islington and invested in at least four new properties, where affordable workspace will be offered to local start-up businesses and entrepreneurs.

The £2,060,000 total investment will create around 900sq metres of space – creating 140 new jobs for local people.

The premises will be located in and around Finsbury Park, the borough’s most deprived ward. They will support community groups and disadvantaged residents to set up and grow their own businesses.

The council has identified two key growth areas – the emerging cluster of technology and fashion businesses in Fonthill Road, and the fashion and garment businesses in nearby Seven Sisters Road. Local businesses and entrepreneurs working in the premises will contribute to the borough’s inclusive economy approach.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington’s executive member for economic development, said: “This is fantastic news for all those in Finsbury Park with the ideas, passion, talent and ambition to start their own business.

“We want to support the long tradition of independent fashion retail in Finsbury Park, and help develop the emerging tech sector here, but too often small businesses are priced out of the area or can’t find affordable places to turn their dreams into reality.

“So we have been working hard behind the scenes on plans to develop an ‘inclusive economy’ model, and are delighted that the Mayor Of London believes in the social and economic value in this project.

“We want to create a business environment in Islington that offers opportunities across the board and works for everybody, opening up employment and training opportunities for our residents – this grant is a fantastic start.”

Jules Pipe, London's Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, said: “The Mayor and I are determined to use the Good Growth Fund to challenge preconceptions about how regeneration takes place.

"This project is a great example of how we can work with local communities on projects in a way that will help ensure the benefits are felt by all.”

The council’s plans include purchasing commercial leases on two buildings in and around Fonthill Road to create long-term affordable workspaces for the emerging cluster of fashion and tech firms.

It will also renovate one of its own properties to provide a mix of affordable workspace and space for community groups, managed by a not-for-profit organisation.

A dozen disused garages on the Andover Estate will also be converted into new workspaces for fashion and other businesses.

The council will match-fund this project using money from property developers’ contributions secured to provide off-site affordable workspace.

This forms part of the council’s wider work on securing affordable workspace for local residents, which will include partnerships with affordable workspace providers.