The Independent London Newspaper

 

Protest as arts centre faces loss of its Holloway home

Artist’s impression of the new flats and arts centre building

An artist’s impression of the new flats and arts centre building

Angela Slocumbe, project co-ordinator of Glorious Backstage Arts

Angela Slocumbe, project co-ordinator of Glorious Backstage Arts

Published: 13 January, 2017
by JOE COOPER

A CHARITY leader has urged the City of London to rethink plans to move a community arts centre to a new building.

The Corporation has submitted proposals to move Islington Arts Factory (IAF) from its home in a cluster of church buildings in Camden Road, Holloway. The church buildings are to be converted into seven luxury flats.

A new five-storey building would go up on an adjoining forecourt used by Exan garage. It is feared that this could jeopardise the business. 

The new building would contain 18 affordable homes as well as the arts centre. Nine of the homes would be given over to the Town Hall for council housing. 

But Angela Slocumbe, project co-ordinator of Glorious Backstage Arts, a carnival arts organisation based at IAF, said the City needed to think “holistically about what the area needs” and let IAF stay put and keep the garage forecourt.

“The car repair work­shop has maintained a 40-year commitment to providing local jobs and services, yet the applica­tion has not sought to include floor space for this thriving business,” said Ms Slocumbe. 

“Affordable housing could be constructed while retaining IAF, the last remaining multi-use community arts facility in the borough, and Exan within their current locations.”

The Exan garage refused to comment, citing “data protection”.

Ms Slocumbe fears IAF, which currently houses two dance studios, an artists’ studio, music rooms, a gallery space, toilets and a café, would not be able to provide the same facilities in the new building. Sessions sometimes end at 11pm and could cause problems if held close to residential apartments.

The private housing in the church buildings should be scrapped in favour of work-live apartments for artists, she said.

Ms Slocumbe said: “As affordable space within Islington for business and creative practitioners is disappearing I’m keen to ensure we do not lose the only remaining affordable community asset of its type that residents, young people and community groups who need space to exist can rely upon.”

The Corporation last year planned to knock down the church build­ings entirely, but residents argued that it had ignored their archi­tectural significance. They were successful in getting English Heritage to grant protected status to the Verger’s Cottage.

The planning application, submitted at the start of the year, is still open for comments.

A City of London spokesman said: “The City of London Corporation has been working closely with Islington Council to develop and refine proposals for the site.”

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