Conference centre plan to regenerate area around station


[from Islington Tribune]

Islington Tribune – by ROISIN GADELRAB
Published: 23 November 2007

Conference centre plan to regenerate area around station

Warning of impact on street’s fashion trade

THE company behind Islington’s Business Design Centre has announced a massive plan to redevelop land beside Finsbury Park station.
Business Design Centre Group wants to turn the City North site at the station into a giant conference centre, complete with shops, restaurants, cafés and bars.
A shiny new station entrance is planned, along with 450 new homes, half of which would be affordable.
The company claims: “Redevelopment of this site could enable London Underground to deliver a new western station concourse, enhance public areas and act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the wider Finsbury Park area.”
The plans met with a mixed reaction at last week’s meeting of the council’s east area committee.
Lib Dem councillor Meral Ece said she feared businesses in nearby Fonthill Road, home to fashion warehouses and clothing wholesalers, had not been properly alerted to the plans. She believes the mainly Turkish traders are unclear about how they would be affected.
“We have to make sure it will benefit the Fonthill Road traders,” she added.
Cllr Ece urged developers to ensure the new buildings and surrounding streets are well-lit to avoid becoming a haven for crime.
She said: “There have been lots of developments in Islington which, after they’ve been completed, have turned out to be a paradise for muggers. It’s important to ensure we’ve designed out crime.”
Green councillor Katie Dawson said: “No one denies we need development and housing in this area and improvements around the station. Certainly, a private exhibition space can in no way be described as for community benefit.
“With regards to the shops, can we follow the Mayor of London’s recommendations that 50 per cent of those units have capped rents so we can avoid the sort of clone-town effect?”
A council officer, who presented the plans to the meeting, said: “The shops won’t affect local businesses because they will be related to the ­station.”
Labour councillor Phil Kelly was more welcoming, pointing out that with the opening of the Eurostar terminus at St Pancras International, Finsbury Park is now two-and-a-half hours from Paris.
“The fact that people are interested in developing in Finsbury Park is very good,” he said. “Particularly since we recently gave planning permission for a proper hotel in Fonthill Road.”
Although the street frontage will remain in line with existing properties, one or more buildings within the site will be about 40 metres tall.

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