Cllr Asima Shaikh, Executive Member for Economic Development, writes about how Islington Council is working hard to make sure new development in the borough helps provide jobs and opportunities for local people.
Islington is a great place to live, work and visit. You’d expect me to say that, but it is also true.
With many international businesses based in the borough, and thriving local high streets made-up of independent traders with long histories as part of our communities, our local economy is diverse and Islington Council is committed to supporting it to grow.
Studies have shown that Islington can expect to see 50,000 new jobs created in the next 20 years, and we are determined to help local residents benefit from this growth. Our vision of this growth is that it must me 'inclusive growth', or to put it another way, 'good growth'. We want to see Islington have an economy that works for everybody, where sustainable, inclusive growth is harnessed to reduce unemployment, poverty, and inequality of opportunity.
Just in the last few weeks we saw a further example of how the council is leading the way in London to deliver inclusive growth with innovative partnerships and strategies to secure new job opportunities for local people. The new White Collar Factory near Old Street will deliver space for 99 new jobs and 74 new chef positions for local people.
I’m really excited about the deal we have struck at the White Collar Factory – not least because renowned chef, Nuno Mendes, will be bringing all sorts of delicious food closer to us. But what’s really exciting about this is that a new office development on the fringe of the City is going to create full-time new jobs and training opportunities for new chefs, and all this is going to be done in partnership with the council’s ‘iWork for Business’ team, so that people from Islington benefit from these new opportunities.
It’s not an easy process to secure deals like this, but thanks to robust planning and employment policies the council has pioneered, we are making progress.
These new policies are helping us to ensure that local people share the economic benefits of new developments, in particular by allowing us to secure affordable workspace as part of new developments. What is really crucial is that we are securing this space – where new businesses can start, or training providers can help people learn new skills – at virtually zero rental cost and on lengthy leases.
We have all seen examples where a shiny new development promises all sorts of things for the local community, only for them to be slowly eroded and taken away once the planning permission has been signed and the spotlight moved away. But by securing deals that run for decades and at extremely low rents, Islington Council is saying that we will not accept development that does not work for local people now and in the future.
Islington Labour is committed to helping more local people into work, and we are proud to have supported more than 3,300 unemployed residents find employment since April 2014. Securing more affordable workspace across the borough, including in under-used council-owned buildings, is a key part of how we will be supporting more local people into work in the coming years.
New development will always be something our borough has to contend with. But in Islington, we are clear that the benefits must be shared with the many, and not just the few.