How the John Jones development could look after the framers eventually got the go-ahead
Published: 29 June, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
A HIGH Court judge refused to support Islington Council’s demand on Wednesday that a £30million development in Finsbury Park must include affordable family homes.
The decision means that world-famous art framers John Jones – whose clients include artists David Hockney, Damien Hirst and the late Francis Bacon – can finally go ahead with plans for a six-storey workshop with 450 student flats.
The judge’s decision will be welcomed by business leaders who feared 100 jobs could be lost if the scheme, which had been on hold for 15 months, did not go ahead.
Islington’s policy of insisting every new development has 50 per cent affordable housing has been under fire for being too inflexible. Islington Chamber of Commerce had warned that it could cost jobs.
The judge is recommending Islington pay John Jones legal fees of £75,000.
The council will in addition have spent at least £30,000 on its own barristers. The judge suggested that the council did not seek a further appeal.
Islington’s scouts will be able take heart from the judge’s decision. In April, a £2.5million scheme for a new district HQ development in Holloway Road was rejected by the council because it contained 10 affordable homes rather than 11.
John Jones, a family firm based in Finsbury Park for 40 years, developed its student accommodation scheme under the previous Lib Dem council five years ago.
In 2010, the scheme was rejected by the new Labour council but that decision was overruled last year by government environment secretary Caroline Spelman.
The council then appealed to the High Court in April.
John Jones managing director Matthew Jones said this week: “It still hasn’t sunk in. We’re absolutely delighted. We can’t wait for the contractors to get started on-site.
“The last 15 months have not been easy. If the judge had supported the council we would probably have been forced to move out of the borough.”
Contractors are expected on-site in September, with the development due for completion by summer 2015.
Labour housing chief Councillor James Murray said: “We wanted a development on this site to include more conventional housing – and in particular affordable housing – rather than several hundred student flats. We are disappointed by the court’s decision and will decide our next steps in the coming weeks.”
Lib Dem opposition leader Councillor Terry Stacy said: “The council’s blinkered approach over housing could have meant a loss of jobs.”