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Interview: Victoria Geoghegan from Islington Council

Thu 16th May 2013, 12:49 pm

Sitematch London talks to the development management and building control head of service about development in the north London borough.

What is your role at the council? What are your responsibilities and duties?

I am the head of service for development management and building control. I have been in this post at Islington for the past year. My planning responsibilities and duties include determining all types of planning applications, listed buildings and conservation area consent, and enforcing against unlawful developments in a timely and efficient manner thus ensuring that all developments are of an excellent quality. My building control duties include providing a professional service to ensure all building projects comply with national building regulations - we cover all types of building projects.  In addition we are responsible for dealing with dangerous structures as and when they arise; ensuring they are made safe for all.

If an investor or developer is looking for development sites in Islington, what types for sites are available? Who owns them?

In the short to medium term development activity is expected to be particularly strong in the following key areas:

- Archway, in the north of the borough, where the regeneration of the town centre remains a key council priority.  Key sites include the land around the Archway Tower/Hamlyn House/Hill House and the UCL/Middlesex University site.  The council has developed a scheme to remove the one way traffic system in the area.  This proposal is seen as critical to the regeneration of the town centre, and the council is working with Transport for London to take it forward.
- The Council is working with Haringey and Hackney councils to develop a masterplan and supplementary planning document for Finsbury Park. It is hoped that the three local authorities can work collectively and with Transport for London and Network Rail to unlock the enormous potential of this key regeneration area.
- Development is continuing in the vicinity of the Emirates Stadium with Arsenal with the Queensland Road development under construction. Arsenal has also recently secured planning consents for a hotel and student accommodation.
- At Old Street, the council is working with the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to deliver the Silicon Roundabout proposal. This project has three elements i.e. a new 'open institute' for the high tech sector; the removal of the one way traffic system; and the improvement of the station.
- Development interest in the City Road/Pentonville Road corridor continues to be strong particularly around the City Road Basin area.
- The Royal Mail is preparing to submit planning applications for the Mount Pleasant site in 2013, and the council is working with Camden Council and the applicants to bring forward a unified scheme across both Islington and Camden.
- Following completion of the new Thameslink station, work on Crossrail is continuing at Farringdon.
- Work is in hand to manage the many challenges presented by the construction of the Kings Cross development.  The council wishes to ensure that local communities benefit from change in the local area whilst protecting its character of the local area.

We can supply land ownership details to anyone interested.

Is Islington looking to promote any specific development types?

Islington is very keen in maximising the delivery of good quality affordable housing. In addition we expect an excellent standard of design. We are also keen to secure and retain employment floorspace and employment opportunities within the borough, particularly in the central area zones and town centres.

Why should an investor/developer invest in Islington?

People should invest in Islington because it is an attractive and viable place to develop in. We also offer an extremely responsive and collaborative planning service and a competitive building control function. The borough is centrally located to take advantages of the City, West End and the regeneration to the east including the Olympic Park.

What is Islington doing to make the borough more attractive to investors/developers?

We are working collaboratively with future developers especially at the pre-application stage, producing up to date evidence-based policies that address the aims and objectives of the Borough, including comprehensive consultation and liaison with elected members and the public and the introduction of a local design review panel in order to ensure certainty, consistency, quality in developments and timeliness of decision making.

Which key developments are currently in the pipeline? Are there any interesting opportunities for developers?

Recently submitted applications for redevelopment include the Mount Pleasant Royal Mail site which includes land in both Islington and Camden and proposes 700 residential units and the City Road Berkeley scheme which could deliver approx 900 units. Other key sites with planning permission include the Almeida site (of Upper Street), and City North at Finsbury Park station.

Other interesting areas include Old Street, City Road/Pentonville Road, Archway, and the area around Farringdon Station.

Visit Islington's profile on the Sitematch London website for more details about development opportunities in the borough. 

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