The number of private rented housing in Islington hasn’t just grown, but almost doubled over the past decade – by a phenomenal 85 per cent. And the reason is quite simple – an overriding need.
Despite being London’s second smallest borough, the area is so densely populated (around 206,000 residents) that Islington Council is today crying out for help from the private rented sector. In fact, the last census showed the population had increased by 30,000 between 2001 and 2011. What this means is that the average private rent in Islington is today above even the London average.
It should be no surprise then to learn that the number of owner occupiers in the area is well below the London average at 31 per cent, while the number of private rented houses sits at 27 per cent (the national average is around 15 per cent).
Council Housing officers are keen to strike up a good relationship with private landlords in a bid to help them re-house residents, including those who are homeless.
A tale of two Islingtons
Islington, which stretches from Silicon Roundabout in the south to Archway in the north, reveals a major dichotomy. For although prices here are above the London average and attract some of the country’s wealthiest bankers, representatives of the global elite and even top Labour politicians (Blair lived in Richmond Crescent during the 1990s and Corbyn is near Finsbury Park in the North of the borough), these are areas which sit side by side some of the most deprived council wards in the whole of the UK. And it’s a gap which has been increasingly widening since the mid 1990s. How could it not when one of the most recent developments is the Lexicon tower with one bedroom apartments starting at £750,000?
Another change here is in the area’s diversity. Only 48 per cent of residents were white British at the time of the last census, compared to 57 per cent in 2001.
When it comes to accommodation in Islington the majority of properties consist of one bedroom flats. But then, 57 per cent of the population – most of whom are students at either City University or London Metropolitan University – are aged 35 and under. Despite this, there is still a huge need for two and three apartment houses by the Council. But then, when you consider Blair’s house sold for £3.5m in 2014 when he’d only paid £350,000 for it back in the 1990s it’s clear to see that property inflation has played the leading role in a lack of affordable housing for long-term residents.
In the meantime, of the Georgian and Victorian tenements in the area, more than half (62 per cent) were built around the turn of the 20th century, and require quite a bit of maintenance. In fact, those very properties would have housed the likes of Charles Dickens, Alfred Hitchcock, Peter Sellers, George Orwell and even Charlie Chaplin – all of whom chose to make colourful Islington their home at some point in their lives.
By Dean Crossley