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Tileyard King’s Cross expansion blocked by inspector

Top studio boss feels ‘duped’ as inspectors says development would overshadow Antony Gormley workshop

29 August, 2019 — By Calum Fraser

Tileyard boss Nick Keynes

MUSIC moguls have accused the council of “stifling” creative industries in the borough after failing to approve a plan to expand celebrated studios in King’s Cross.

A planning inspector was called in to make a ruling on the scheme in York Way after Islington took several months considering the designs for new six-to-eight storey blocks in York Way.

The Town Hall later said it would have ­rejected the proposals but the case had already been switched to the hands of the planning inspectorate.

Developers City and Provincial Properties Investments (CPP) saw their appeal officially rejected last week.

Artists impression of the proposed scheme

Tileyard studios, an independent music hub where a host of superstar artists including Mark Ronson and Lily Allen have recorded tracks, had been in line for expansion if the plan had been approved.

But the appeal was thrown out on the grounds that the new buildings would plunge residents in flats across the road into darkness – as would a studio run by world-famous artist Antony Gormley.

The development would also cause “material harm” to the character and appearance of the nearby “town­scape”, inspector Jennifer Vyse ruled.

Tileyard boss Nick Keynes believes the main reason the council has pushed back against the scheme is that they feared CPP would use Tileyard as a smokescreen to then drive up rent by leasing some of the space to white-collar employers.

He told the Tribune: “It is incredibly sad and demoralising. It’s a Pyrrhic victory for Islington as well. We wanted to invest in ­creative jobs and projects and now that has been stifled.”

He added: “I guess it is a lack of trust in us, but we are keeping rents down because we are not interested in attracting corporates. The irony is that the design came from two to three years of collaboration with Islington. It feels like we have been duped. We might have to look
elsewhere to expand.”

CPP had sought more flexible office space that will allow it to alter each unit according to a client’s preference without needing planning permission each time.

But the council says it wants to keep the historic industrial nature of the area known as the Vale Royal/Brewery Road Locally Significant Industrial Site (LSIS), protecting jobs like meatpacking and car repairs.

Islington’s jobs chief, Councillor Asima Shaikh, said: “For the creative sector to thrive in Islington it needs the spaces currently available to it to be protected. This is exactly why we fully support the use of industrial spaces for creative purposes where appropriate and have made this point to the owners of Tileyard many times.”

She added: “Unfortun­ately, that is not what was being proposed – what was being proposed was the creation of office space in one of Islington’s last, vital industrial areas.”

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