Published: 20 April, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
THE head of one of Islington’s biggest firms – with artists David Hockney, Damien Hirst and the late Francis Bacon among its clients – accused a Labour councillor this week of “staging a one-man battle” against a £30m development in Finsbury Park – because it doesn’t have enough affordable housing.
The accusation against Labour regeneration chief Paul Convery came from picture framers John Jones.
The company, which employs more than 100 staff, was refused planning permission by the council for a six-storey workshop development with mainly student accommodation. Last year, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman overturned the decision and gave the go-ahead. Now, that decision is to be challenged by the council in the High Court next month.
The proposal is for a six- and seven-storey building with a workshop, retail space, 15 residential flats and 475 student rooms in Morris Place, near Finsbury Park station.
Managing director Matt Jones said: “We cannot understand why Mr Convery continues his one-man battle to stop the development. He has chosen to forget the 18 months of negotiation with the council’s planning officers before submitting our application and to ignore the 50-page report submitted to committee wholly supporting the scheme.”
He added that many people have voiced their support for the development. “The only party who objects is Paul Convery,” he added. “I would call on the council to see sense and agree that the benefits flowing from this scheme far outweigh the council’s policy on where student housing should be built.”
Cllr Convery said he was disappointed with the comments coming after a private meeting between himself and Mr Jones. “We like the development very much, but want it to include conventional housing because that is the greatest need,” he said. “We are not against student accommodation. We just believe we have too much in the borough.”