Cllr Asima Shaikh and Alex Elkins outside The Ray Farringdon, home to Better Space, the affordable workspace for local entrepreneurs

Islington Council announces 'Better Space' affordable workspace partnership with City, University of London

As part of its ground-breaking Affordable Workspace Strategy, Islington Council has awarded its latest contract to City, University of London. Through this collaboration with City, University of London, ‘Better Space’ will support the council’s vision to rebuild and recover, creating a more inclusive economy where fairness, social justice and sustainability are at the fore. As we emerge from Covid-19 this will be more important than ever, and through partnerships like this, the council will be there to ensure the local economy bounces back strongly, more jobs are created and local enterprise can thrive.

City will act as the operator for Better Space at The Ray Farringdon, on Farringdon Road, in a 10-year collaboration that will provide genuinely affordable workspace to micro and small businesses and deliver a range of skills and employment initiatives for the benefit of residents, businesses and communities.

Better Space will act as a social enterprise hub in the borough, providing specialist support to social enterprises and strengthening the wider business community through promoting local supply chains, developing business networks and encouraging responsible practices. Spaces at the 6,000 sq ft site will be available to businesses at below market rents. The prime office space is located in The Ray Farringdon, which is also home to the UK headquarters of LinkedIn.

Through its planning policy, the council negotiates with building developers to secure new office spaces at a ‘peppercorn’ rent for a minimum of 10 years. Operators are then appointed to run these spaces and charge below market rents to support micro and small businesses which are being increasingly priced out of the borough due to high rental and property costs.

Instead of paying rent, City will deliver significant levels of social value by delivering employment and skills opportunities for Islington residents, providing expert support for businesses and entrepreneurs, strengthening local supply chains and supporting the council to meet key objectives such as its Carbon Neutral 2030 commitment.

The council appointed City as it demonstrated a good understanding of the programme’s ambitions and has a proven track record in delivering employment initiatives for Islington residents, providing expert business support through its Launch Lab accelerator programme and developing strong local partnerships and networks.

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs, said: “I am really excited to be working with City to offer this truly affordable workspace to local people seeking to start their own businesses.

“Better Space is an innovative scheme that will play a key role in delivering a significant amount of social value, which is central to the council’s new Community Wealth Building Programme. The focus on social enterprises is a central priority for us in working towards a more democratic and resilient local economy – an economy which works for everyone.

"I also welcome the opportunity to collaborate and work closely with LinkedIn to discover fresh and original ideas to deliver for our residents."

Cllr Matt Nathan, the council's Small Business, Co-ops and Social Enterprise Champion, added: “I believe Better Space will not only lead to new jobs for residents, but also support and strengthen the wider social enterprise and community business sector in Islington.”

Alex Elkins, Head of Entrepreneurship at City, said: "We are very excited to get started on the development of the affordable workspace in partnership with Islington Council. This project provides an excellent facility for us to share our expertise in entrepreneurship and business start-ups with the wider Islington community.

“With a focus on supporting and creating purpose driven companies and social enterprises we hope to help expand the already impressive range of ventures in the region and create new job opportunities for local people at this critical time.

“Once finished the space will provide co-working, mentoring and accelerator programmes for residents and young businesses which will build upon Islington’s thriving community and develop new opportunities which are focused on giving back to the borough.” 

Better Space will welcome its first members in June 2021, subject to any Covid-19 restrictions. For more information and updates:

 

Media contact information

If you are a member of the media and would like more information please contact:

Islington Council media team – media@islington.gov.uk or 020 7527 2307.  Out of hours: 07769 163303

If you are a member of the public with a general question about the council please contact:

Contact Islington – www.islington.gov.uk/contact-us or 020 7527 2000