Luxury flats at former hospital in City Road sit empty for 3 years
Calls for key workers to be given homes inside former NHS building
04 October, 2019 — By Emily Finch
St Mark’s Hospital building, off City Road, has been coverted into luxury flats
A FORMER NHS hospital that was converted into almost 100 luxury flats has been empty for three years, the Tribune can reveal.
Neighbours living opposite the converted St Mark’s Hospital building, off City Road, say they have not seen anyone entering or leaving the five-storey apartment complex.
The building had previously offered short and long-term holiday rentals that ranged from £700 a week for a studio room, with prices creeping up to just under £2,000 a week for a two-bedroom apartment.
Housing activist Andy Bain, chairman of campaign group Islington Homes for All, said it was “terrible” that a large residential building had not been in use for such a long time.
“We have so many people desperate for housing in Islington and it is wrong that this building is not in use. Given the history of the property it should be offered to the NHS so it can house key hospital workers who can no longer afford to live in London,” he added.
The hospital, which was built in 1854, specialised in treating bowel diseases. It moved to a new site in Harrow in 1995. The Grade II-listed property was then converted into 80 flats after being transferred to the investment arm of the Wellcome Trust which raises funds for pioneering medical research.
Mr Bain called for a change in the law so that local councils can seize unused properties and turn them into temporary accommodation for those on the housing waiting list.
There are currently 14,000 households on the list.
“Something needs to happen to stop waste like this,” he said.
A resident in council-owned housing opposite the former hospital, who did not want to be named, said: “To let the building sit empty with one security person inside is a waste. It makes me angry that there are so many homes there.”
She added: “It does not make sense. I have kids on the council waiting lists and this should have been sold for social housing and not luxury.”
NHS campaigner Shirley Franklin, of Defend the Whittington Coalition, said: “An empty hospital in City Road really should be used for more mental health facilities since Islington has an exceptionally high level of need yet cut 100 beds in 2011.
“We need to replace that.”
The NHS revealed last year that Islington had the highest number of people treated under the Mental Health Act compared to the rest of the country.
“The Wellcome Trust should donate the building back to the NHS, they can afford to. We are in desperate need of beds at the moment with huge waiting lists,” said Ms Franklin.
A spokesman for the Wellcome Trust said that the discovery of asbestos during a refurbishment of the flats “has put the block out of service for longer than we had hoped for”.
Representatives for the Trust submitted plans to the Town Hall last month to install multiple dry-risers – pipes for fighting fire – within the building.
The spokesman added: “A full construction programme is due to start later this month and we intend to bring the flats back into occupation as soon as the refurbishment works are complete.”
The Trust would not confirm whether the flats would be luxury housing for short-term let or social housing.